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Hill in practice - photo by Sven Martin.

After a year that took us racing in both hemispheres, on 4 continents, and in 7 countries, race day dawned on Meribel for the season ender. A day that would decide not only the race in question, but the World Cup overall titles in all three categories as well.

Florent Payet threw down an early 3:22 to come within one second of Matt Simmonds' fastest qualifier, which would earn him a lengthy stay in the hotseat. Greg Williamson would be the first rider to post up a 3:20, indicative of just how fast anybody with lofty ambitions here would have to go later. Markus Pekoll would shave a few hundredths off Greg's time, and then we were starting to see the big names line up. Greg Minnaar got a bit of revenge for his flat in qualifying, coming down in third with an impressive crash after the finish line for extra effect. Troy Brosnan was up next, and he really needed to pull out an incredible run to keep the overall title race alive. Sadly it was not to be for the Australian, he came down in 8th on his way to a 20th finish, which ultimately would prove too much to overcome.

Vital Power Ranking Wild Card Connor Fearon put in a spirited bid but fell short by 0.6 seconds, on his way to a solid 13th place finish. Windham sensation Mike Jones rolled the dice and looked to be on a flyer when two successive crashes put an end to his effort. Brendan Fairclough had a smooth run but not fast enough, coming down in 7th, 1.3 seconds off the pace. Things were tight!

Gee Atherton in the start gate meant we were into the top-10 qualifiers. The G-man set off like he meant business, and look at the time! 3:17 and this was Atherton back to his best. A run that would take some beating, just what Gee would be looking for ahead of World Champs. Gwin got his run off to a slow start, nearly pulling it back by the end but falling short by 0.2 seconds. Remi Thirion looked awesome from what we saw of him, but he was off the pace. Sam Hill up next, what would he have for us? Incredible lines and incredible speed, that's what!!! Over 1 second off Gee's time, and now the question was - would his 3:16 be the winning time???

Loic Bruni set off, in touch up top, and the French crowd was going mad for him. Bleeding a little time at split 2, and what would he have for Sam in the last section? Not enough, but into 2nd with only 2 to go. Superb run from the young Frenchman. And then, it was time for Ratboy to show us what he really had on this course. 2nd place qualifier with a crash, would he go all out for the win, or put down a conservative run to protect his overall World Cup lead? Full on attack for the Rat of course! In touch at split 2, would he crown the overall with a win here too? Ultimately, Hill's bottom section across those long grassy turns would prove too much even for Josh, who came down 0.5 seconds off but more importantly, as overall World Cup Champion! The Year of the Rat! And so we were left with one final question, would last man standing at the top Matt Simmonds, take his first World Cup win? 13th at split 1, he clawed his way back to 2nd, 0.3 seconds off Sam Hill. It was close, oh so close, but in the end, the flat pedal thunder from down under had done it again! Another win to cap off his "comeback" season, although we hate to use the word for a man who has nothing left to prove.

In the women's, all eyes were on Manon Carpenter. After a steady qualifier, she just needed a solid run and a 4th place or better to take that number 1 plate all the way back home. Tahnee Seagrave had a good run and took the hotseat with a 3:56, but her joy would be shortlived as Tracey Hannah pulled out all the stops to land a 3:52 - on pace with Rachel Atherton's fastest qualifier. Emmeline Ragot was up next, and with a fast and loose run, she took a further 8 SECONDS off Tracey - had she done enough for the win here? Manon Carpenter was up next, and the pressure in the overall standings was palpable. Manon held it together when it mattered though, and came down in second - enough to secure the overall series win! Brilliant riding from the young Welshwoman. Rachel Atherton however was not to be denied on the day, showing her skill and sheer speed on the rough Meribel track to take her second win of the season in some fashion - 3.4 seconds up and looking deadly through the rougher parts of the track. Her win would also be enough to pull herself ahead of Emmeline for the 2nd spot in the overall.

In the junior's, Luca Shaw pulled some time back from his very average qualifier, but sadly it was not to be on the day for the young American. Loris Vergier took a convincing win here on home soil, and in doing so overtook Luca for the overall series title.

2014 Meribel DH World Cup, Men's Elite Final Results (full results)

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2014 Meribel DH World Cup, Women's Elite Final Results (full results)

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2014 Meribel DH World Cup, Junior Men's Final Results (full results)

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2014 UCI MTB DH World Cup Final Overall Standings, Men's Elite

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2014 UCI MTB DH World Cup Final Overall Standings, Women's Elite

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2014 UCI MTB DH World Cup Final Overall Standings, Junior Men's

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