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2012 Val d'Isere World Cup Downhill Qualifying Action

<b>BOSS! A surprise to some, but not to Cam and the believers. He is one of the strongest and smartest racers out there. Like a Kiwi All Black, expect him to do his utmost to back it up on Sunday. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>New prototype Shimano Saint calipers on a few of the big names bikes. Looks smaller, lighter and with bigger venting.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Josh Brycleand coming in hot and fast. It was a first for him to come across the line with a leading time, only Cam Cole beat him by a minimal 0.096 seconds.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Aaron Gwin after his FIRST crash. Did I jinx Gwin in the interview this morning? This track will surprise you in weird places if you haven't been pushing hard with lots of practice runs. A minor blip on near-perfect record.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Aaron Gwin, crashing for the SECOND time during his qualifying run. With 5 stitches in his hand and an uncharacteristically messy run, could his rein of dominance over the series come to an end this weekend?</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Video by Joe Bowman, Steel City Media</b>

<b>Tracey Hannah's last training run with death grip. She crashed and suffered a broken femur and collarbone. We wish her a speedy and strong recovery.</b> -Hoshi Yoshida

<b>It almost looks like the Megavalanche start. The atmosphere was pretty relaxed, everybody seemed to enjoy a little bit of break, not knowing why the training was stopped fro almost an hour. It was because of Tracey Hannah's crash.</b> -Hoshi Yoshida

<b>Aaron came up to the top, saw the massive queue and turned straight back down. Using the chairlift the otherway round opened this epic view on the single trail.</b> -Hoshi Yoshida

<b>It's not often you see pro racers running bars with a single grip. A crash in one of the last corners of the track left Mick being one of the few riders relying on their protected status to qualify. Following Tracy Hannah's devastating crash in practice, Mick racing at all is a testament to his strength.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Another man who pulled their run back from the top was Brook Macdonald. He made up 10 places from 13th to 3rd and wrestled the bike down in true Bulldog fashion. </b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Today saw a slight mix up in the qualifying results compared to the usual. Gee Atherton, despite a less-than-perfect run up top, remains consistent, qualifying in 4th place.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Minnaar tilts and shifts his bike for us this morning after giving the photographers in snipers alley some instructions on how, who AND when to shoot. He's taking his new media liason job seriously.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>The Syndicate do not have a new female rider, this is their protection. Elbow and back *Pads* for the wettest of days.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Nick Beer is also back in the top 5.</b> -Hoshi Yoshida

<b>Sam Hill riding his pace though his rear flat tire almost popped off his rim in every turn.</b> -Hoshi Yoshida

<b>Rachel flying on her qualifying run, wearing the British National Champ sleeve and leaving a trail of dust in her wake. It's amazing to think that an hour later this same section became slick and muddy!</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Emeline Ragot pushing hard to get a victory in her home country. But today was Rachel's day, (preparing the revenge for Fort William?)</b> -Hoshi Yoshida

<b>A tough day for Tracey Moseley. This is the first time she's not qualified for a World Cup. Ever. A crash left her with a sore shoulder and here she pays a visit to Martin the masseuse.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>The words "level playing field" would be at the opposite end of the spectrum to what was experienced today. Emyr Davies watched on, in the rain, sitting in 80th place, waiting to see if he'd make the cut. A good while passed but unfortunately Em's time ran out.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Even with 231 odd starters, Sam Dale is living proof that you must never give up. He flatted far up the course and had to deal with massive lightning strikes thunderclaps and a big downpour. 70th place and in the show.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Bernard is lost without Eliot Jackson this weekend, all alone with just his shadow in this media exclusion zone. He will be on the sidelines after a massive over-the-bars sliding a jump in the greasy 30-ish rider conditions.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Bryn and a few near him had the worst of the first big downpour. They all did well to stay calm and qualify.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>One of the most insane qualifying rounds I have ever witnessed. Crashes, thunder, lightning, flats galore. From sun and dust to monsoonal downpour with mud. Neethling with a flat.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>There are more Brit fans here than French ones. Got to love the spirit. Rachel contact me if you can't make out the number here. Qualifying run.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>The Hof's photos of Gwin crashing yesterday were poached far and wide by bullshit Facebook "DH Fan" outlets. If you pay for photo rights, the Hof might just be able to afford an umbrella and a rain jacket. Death to all poachers.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>George Gannicott cuts the beam a little too late to make sundays race, another victim of the second storm wave. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>From top to bottom at Val d'Isere by Sven Martin</b>

<b>Sabrina Jonnier is still a little off her old performances, but at least entered top 10 in qualifying today.</b> -Hoshi Yoshida

<b>Greg Minnaar, deviating from his normal super-smooth style in a corner which caused issues for some of the top guys. 19th at the first split, he made up an impressive 13 places to finish up 6th!</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Emeline Ragot is the beef in the MS Mondraker sandwich.</b> -Hoshi Yoshida

<b>Brook pushing it low at flat into the berm just before taking of over the gap.</b> -Hoshi Yoshida

<b>Hall of fame - Danny van Den Bossche is World Champion jersey collector and has them all, almost...</b> -Hoshi Yoshida

<b>A storm stricken Val d'Isere track. The action continues to unfold in France, so stay tuned! -Duncan Philpott<br><br>If you haven't made your <a href="http://www.vitalmtb.com/features/Win-a-RockShox-BoXXer-Vital-OTB-2012-Val-DIsere-World-Cup,350" target="_blank"><font color="#ffff00">Vital OTB prediction, now is the time</font></a><br><br><a href="http://www.vitalmtb.com/news/news/Cam-Cole-and-Rachel-Atherton-Fastest-Val-dIsere-World-Cup-Qualifying,492" target="_blank"><font color="#ffff00">View the DH Qualifying Results</font></a></b>

The Val d'Isere World Cup course took no prisoners today as riders were bludgeoned and battered in hopes of making the downhill finals on Sunday. Sun, rain, dust, mud, thunder and lightning sum up an afternoon racing in the French Alps.

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