French Downhill Champion overcomes Champé©ry mud to extend World Cup lead

After being crowned French Downhill Champion last weekend, Sabrina Jonnier, resumed her World Cup season with a second to Emmeline Ragot in wet, trying conditions at Champé©ry, Switzerland on Saturday.

The current UCI World Cup downhill 
women’s leader, Sabrina Jonnier, of Hyé¨res, France, said the revised course at Champé©ry was “awesome” -at least it was until the rain poured down and put everyone into survival mode.

The muddy conditions made the track very challenging and forced Jonnier to change her strategy.

“It was so hard to race today -it rained all Friday, Friday night and until 10am on Saturday. It was really steep with big mud and it was really tough,” the Maxxis-Rocky Mountain rider explains.

“I decided to stay on my bike -once you crash on this track it’s pretty much over. If you get mud on your gloves you won’t be able to hold onto the bars anymore and if you lose your bike at the wrong place it can disappear into the bush -there would be no way to get back to where you should start from -it’s so steep in places. So I decided to go for a safe run -I went really slow -it was not fun at all. I would even say it was the worse run of my life.”

Jonnier finished in a time of 5:32.12 -4.87 seconds behind current Downhill World Champion Emmeline Ragot, but second was enough for her to be able to extend her lead in the series.

“My qualifier went okay -I just tried to stay on my bike and I got second, but I was pretty far back behind Myriam Nicole -she had an amazing qualifier. I was a bit pissed off, but it was good to get some points for the overall.”

Jonnier crashed on a run on Saturday and hit her leg on “the one rock on the ground” so was glad the course did not have too much pedalling in it.

“I had a dead leg for a few days, so I couldn’t really pedal,” she laughs.

Taking the safe option in the final is out of character for Jonnier, but she admits the series win is on her mind.

“It is frustrating to go for a safe run and not try to go faster in the mud,” Jonnier offers.

Ragot, the current World Champion, became only the second rider (after Rachel Atherton won the opening round) to knock Jonnier from the top spot so far this World Cup season.

“I guess she had nothing to lose. She just went wild and she put everything together and it was good enough to be the fastest today. At the first split she was about 10 seconds ahead of me, but I must have made less mistakes after that point,” Jonnier explains.

“It was hard to stay on -I didn’t have any crashes today, but I had a few moments,” she laughs.

Jonnier said the team at Champé©ry had worked very hard to prepare an awesome track.

“At Thursday’s practice it was dry and it was fast and a lot of fun, it is a shame the rain came. Hopefully it will be dry for next year’s World Championships as it will be awesome to watch -it can be a real fast track,” she states.

Champé©ry is the first World Cup round that also features cross-country racing and so the Maxxis-Rocky Mountain team swells in size.

“Since the start of the season it had just been Cam [Cole] and I, and now we have the full team together. I will be up there tomorrow to support the cross-country riders.”

Jonnier was not sure how her rival Rachel Atherton, of Great Britain, was recovering, but expected to meet with her again at the final World Cup round at Windham, USA and then the World Championships at Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada.

“Hopefully she recovers well -I am sure she will be back and even stronger again,” she offers.

The World Cup DH1 season moves to Val di Sole, Italy on Sunday, August 1 and Jonnier jokes that people are already talking about more rain.

Sabrina’s 2010 Race Schedule

2010 UCI World Cup DH1 Events (6)
May 15/16: Maribor, Slovenia [Second]
June 05/06: Fort Wiliam, Scotland [First]
June 19/20: Leogang, Austria [First]
July 24/25: Champé©ry, Switzerland [Second]
July 31/August 1: Val di Sole, Italy
August 28/29: Windham, USA

2010 Enduro de Nations
June 25-27: Val d’Allos, France [First Women]

2010 Mega Avalanche
July 10-11: Alpe d’Huez, France [Eighth]

2010 UCI World Championships
August 31-September 05: Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada

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