Laurie Greenland returned to form in scintillating style as a daring run saw him bag third place in the UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup in Les Gets.
Greenland is a former junior world champion as well as World Championship silver medallist, and he proved exactly why, a stunning ride on a tricky track earning a deserved place on the podium.
Having qualified in 11th place, the Brit pulled out all the stops and reproduced a performance of old in France to move to seventh in the overall World Cup standings.
The Les Gets track required riders to go for it from the start and Greenland certainly delivered, racing right on the limit in the early stages and storming his way into the lead.
As spectacular to watch as any others on the circuit when in form, the 22-year-old was certainly proving himself to be a dynamic rider in excellent shape.
And that daring approach paid off on the clock, Greenland more than a second ahead of any other rider coming into the closing stages, maintaining lines where others struggled to hold it together.
That saw him rewarded with a finish time of 3:00.458, more than five seconds ahead of his qualifying effort and a second clear of any other rider on track.
French brilliance denies Greenland victory
It needed something truly special to beat his time and in Amaury Pierron and Loic Bruni, France’s home favourites certainly delivered.
Three times a World Cup winner already this season, Bruni looked like he would make history by becoming the fourth man to hit four in a year when he clocked 2:59.360.
But the world champion’s delight was curtailed by a near faultless run by Pierron, clean and fast throughout to bring up his second win of the season after success at Fort William.
He proved a cut above to win by a staggering 2.3 seconds, with the pair also maintaining France’s winning record in World Cups this season.
Les Gets— UCI MTB (@UCI_MTB) July 13, 2019
The times were not as tight as we expected, but the racing was certainly as spectacular!
Loris Vergier #MBWorldCup pic.twitter.com/oeCRZPnjom
“It’s such a loose track. You have to be on the edge throughout, so to be as close as I was to the French riders is pretty pleasing,” said MS Mondraker Team rider Greenland, ninth in Andorra last time out.
“I loved it. Normally, I prefer a more technical track but it was fun to race something so different.”
Danny Hart had looked good for the podium after a strong start to the weekend in practice and qualifying.
But going all out for glory proved troublesome in the early stages, leaving the track and being unable to recover thereon.
It therefore ruined his record of podium finishes in every race across the season, though he still sits in fifth place in the overall standings, two spots ahead of Greenland.
Impressive British performances were not done there, with Brendan Fairclough finishing in sixth place for Scott Downhill Factory, while Philip Atwell and Bernard Kerralso came in the top 20.
Atherton suffers injury blow
British interest in the women’s competition was derailed by injury, however, with Tahnee Seagrave already ruled out of action before heading to France.
But she was joined on the sidelines by last week’s winner Rachel Atherton, who suffered a nasty crash in practice to end her weekend prematurely.
“Devastated to say that as I landed super heavy on the last flat jump I had a huge insanely painful ankle and felt so disgustingly strange,” she posted on Instagram.
“As suspected, I’ve completely torn my Achilles Tendon! So it’s surgery to fix it – couldn’t be more different to this day a week ago.
“I’m just feeling super disappointed not to be able to keep the battle going this year with the girls.”
The World Cup weekend continues with the cross-country taking place on Sunday before the circuit heads to Val di Sole, Italy, on the first weekend of August.