Words: Mike Rose
Photos: Nathan Hughes
It’s taken a while for this race to sink in, there was just so much going on. Les Gets World Cup is always a classic, and after being off the schedule for quite some time it now seems to be settling in as a permanent fixture once again.
The INTENSE Factory Racing team was still down to just two riders, Dak Norton and Joe Breeden. Coming into Les Gets Joe was still searching for a little speed (which is definitely coming), and Dak was on a high after his career-best result of second place the weekend before in Loudenvielle. Revved-up and more determined than ever before the team hit Les Gets in fine form.
Les Gets World Cup track then. It has the look and feel of a big old-school alpine track, but with the speed, berms and jumps of the new old school. Big sections of pedaling, but also lots of places where riders could just concentrate on line choice, steering and braking. It was hot, it was dusty and it was crazy. The French crowds were out in force, turning the picturesque and sleepy little town into a deafening party zone.
Things started well. In Friday’s qualifier (top 60 go on to semis) both riders made it through, Joe in thirty-eighth and Dak in an amazing third position. All was good. Come Saturday the sun was still beating down, with barely a breath of wind, and the guys were on track. With only the top 30 riders going through to the final, and neither rider being protected, there was no room for error. Twenty-eighth for Joe, and another third for Dak… they were in.
In the final Joe was the third rider to leave the start hut and he put in a solid run that would eventually see him finish in 24th, a great result and his best of the season.
“Great event on a mega track, with insane fans! Happy with my approach and how I rode all week, but frustrated with one crucial mistake in finals. I’m very motivated for the final block of racing, the goal is a top 10 before the season end, so I’m fully committed to putting myself in the best possible position of achieving that.” Joe Breeden
I was lucky enough to be standing on the side of the hill in the finish arena in Les Gets this year, and I can tell you that excitement levels were off the charts when Dak dropped in with just himself and two other riders left to go. Unfortunately the excitement was to be short lived. Dak took a really nice inside line on the first left hander as he started to enter the wooded section, then around the right hander, but then as he started to turn into the next left, crossing the rut on his desired line, he pushed the front wheel and it just went away from him, pretty much high-siding him off the bike. It was game over.
“As Dale Earnhardt once said… you win some, lose some, and wreck some.” Dakotah Norton
Both Joe and Dak did us proud. It is there for both of them. They have the ability and the speed, but with the tracks being so full-on and the competition being so strong, winning a World Cup is no easy task. Congratulations to all of the winners. Marine Cabirou held her nerve in the women’s race, and of course Benoit Coulanges who lit the fuse to set the Les Gets ‘party rocket’ off. I will remember his victory by just 0.160 sec and the insane celebrations for the rest of my life. What a sport.
The team now head to the Fox US Open in Killington, USA (Sept 23/24), and then on to the final two World Cups of the year. Firstly Snowshoe (Sept 30th) and then Mont-Sainte-Anne (Oct 7th).