Double victories for the team! Monster Energy congratulates team rider Amaury Pierron on taking first place in the Elite Men division at the UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup in Snowshoe, West Virginia, this weekend. In the season’s only race in the United States, the 26-year-old from Brioude, France, finished in 3:34.442 to retain his lead on the 2022 World Cup rankings.
Also claiming a win at Snowshoe, 32-year-old Camille Balanche from La Chaux-de-Fond, Switzerland, completed the challenging course in 4:28.585 in the Elite Women division and defended her number one position on overall 2022 season standings. Rounding out a strong showing for team Monster Energy, 18-year-old Izabela Yankova from Teteven, Bulgaria, earned a strong third-place finish in the Junior Women division.
Two weeks after a fierce battle at the 2022 Mercedes-Benz UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup in Andorra, the world’s best downhill mountain bike racers convened in Snowshoe for the sixth race of the tour. In front of thousands of cheering American fans in the backwoods of West Virginia, the world elite of the sport proceeded to put down one of the wildest contests in years.
Weather conditions varied from monsoon rains, zero visibility fog early in the week mixed with baking sunshine on race day. Riders had to contend with every condition imaginable this week. The already technical track at Snowshoe had the added complication of fresh cut loam that did not hold up well in the wet weather, creating challenging peanut butter-like conditions mid-course, followed by the most slippery mud covered rocks many racers have ever had to contend with in the infamous lower rock gardens.
Known for its lengthy single track rock sections that beat riders up, the added mud made for a workout that many racers barely made it through, fighting just to keep the rubber side down and in between the tape.
Monster Energy’s Amaury Pierron entered the Snowshoe event as the leader on season rankings but with room to improve: After suffering a crash in the previous World Cup race in Andorra and finishing in 13th place, Pierron almost opted out of the Snowshoe race while still dealing with injuries. But rising to the occasion, the ‘Flying Frenchman’ showed his grit by taking first place in the grueling qualifiers and sending it on finals day.
Dropping in as the last rider with a chance to take the win, Pierron struggled to compensate for an almost two-seconds deficit on the course. “Into the new woods I was trying to go fast and at the big bar, my rear wheel slipped, and I was nearly 180 backwards, full on sliding. I was like whatever, you lost the race but go for it, you have some points to play for,” said Pierron on the challenging conditions.
Staying the course paid off for Pierron as he found a perfect line on the bottom half of the course and coasted into the finish at 3:34.442 in first place, a mere 0.414 seconds ahead of the next rider.
“I don’t know how and here it is! It feels so good because at this point in the season, I think everybody thought I would play it safe. I’m not like that, I want to win! I will scare everybody. I was stoked today to be in America, it was kind of a redemption. I did it for myself and my family and my friends. My run was sick!” said Monster Energy’s Pierron upon taking the win at Snowshoe.
The victory at Snowshoe marks the fourth victory of the season for Pierron. He now counts among an elite field of only four riders to claim four World Cup wins within a single season. The victory also retains Pierron’s top spot on the overall 2022 season leaderboards. With 1180 points, the Frenchman remains a solid 422 points ahead of the next competitor, Monster Energy team rider Loris Vergier from France.
UK rider Danny Hart took home 6th place in the Elite Men division, just a few days after becoming a father for the second time. Everyone at Monster wishes him well while he’s away on the road before returning home to celebrate with his wife, Sophia.
In the Elite Women division, Monster Energy’s Balanche came to Snowshoe looking to improve on a third-place finish in Andorra. The Swiss rider all but dominated qualifiers and emerged in first place a whopping 10 seconds ahead of the next rider. In the finals, Balanche’s precise riding style overcame the treacherous muddy trails at the bottom of the track, earning her a 4:28.585 finish time, four seconds ahead of Myriam Nicole. Balanche also managed not to crash a single time all weekend, while most competitors took falls on the harsh track.
“I didn’t crash [in my run] but it was sketchy as hell! It was super tough. I didn’t crash this whole weekend, so I was super stoked,” said Monster Energy’s Balanche after taking the win at Snowshoe, adding: “After the tricky rock garden at the top, I went so sideways I didn’t think I would get it back. I felt like some parts were super slow, but I knew if I could just get the bottom and not crash It would be enough. It was and so I’m super-super happy with that!”
On the strength of Saturday’s victory, Balanche retains her first-place position on the 2022 Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup leaderboards in the Elite Women division. Boasting a total score of 1335 points, she holds a 230-point lead on the next competitor.
The podium run continued in the Junior Women division. Monster Energy’s Izabela Yankova came to Snowshoe after recently winning the U19 Female division race at Crankworx Innsbruck 2022. Demonstrating her strong race IQ and handling the track’s dangerous sections with finesse, Yankova completed the course in 5:30.714 for a strong third-place finish.
“It feels great to be back on the podium! Honestly, I love this track but maybe more when it’s dry. It was a big challenge for everyone this weekend. Super hard physically and mentally. I just tried to give my best and to stay on the bike. Third place is not where I want to be but it’s a good improvement. Can’t wait for Canada,” said Yankova.
As the Defending World Junior Champion, Yankova is now ranked in 4th place on 2022 Junior Women division leaderboards with 195 points.
What’s next for the 2022 downhill season? Make sure to watch as the plot thickens in the seventh race of the season at Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada, from August 5-7, 2022. Stay tuned as the season shapes up for a dramatic finish that should be made even more wild with so many titles on the line!!
For more on Camille Balanche, Amaury Pierron, Izabela Yankova, and our team of mountain bike athletes, visit http://www.monsterenergy.com. Also, follow Monster Energy on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok for exclusive updates from the 2022 MTB season.