Throughout the nineties and early noughties, Les Gets was a regular UCI Mountain Bike World Cup destination and hosted many a French national championship. With such huge events broadcast around the globe, the resort became Mecca for mountain bikers and attracted global acclaim for the quality and variety of its trails. Having hosted the 2004 World Championships, Les Gets dropped off the world competition schedule, taking a break from staging massive bike races. In more recent times, we’ve seen global mountain bike festival and competition series Crankworx select Les Gets as its European home for three consecutive years.
Summer 19 sees the launch of a new four-year plan for Les Gets. It starts with the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup legs in July 2019, World Cup finals in 2020 and 2021and culminates in the World Championships in 2022. All are huge events in the international mountain biking calendar and are sure to reinstate Les Gets’ position as a first rate resort in the minds of mountain bikers across the globe.
For those not in the know, each stage counts in the World Cup series, as racers compete in different locations throughout the season to stay in the top spot and win the title. The World Championships are a standalone event, where the best of the best are invited to race in an environment where there are no second chances. Each World Cup stop hosts a downhill and a cross-country race, although it’s the fast and loose downhill races that draw the biggest crowds.
We’re certain that some serious hard work anddedicated investment has been promised by resort officials in Les Gets in order to bring these events back to our valley. Their value in terms of global recognition, incoming tourism revenues and improvements to the trails of Les Gets is likely to be staggering. With this in mind, Morzine Sour ce Magazine spoke to some of downhill mountain biking’s biggest legends, most exciting racers and a bunch of locals to see how they’re feeling about Les Gets’ return to the World Cup circuit.
“Les Gets approached the UCI directly; with its proximity to their offices in Aigle and our experience in handling large bike events, we were well placed to host the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. The favourable decision was made in September 2018 after a quick turnaround and the resort has come out all guns blazing. A four-year agreement with the UCI has never been seen before. The benefits will include revenue generation for the local economy, increased tourism and an improvement to the global image of Les Gets. We hope that staging these events will help to create a dynamic resort and an environment that continues to evolve, attract investment and develop the iconic international reputation of the resort.”
“As a venue, Les Gets spans so many generations. From the World Cup races of the late nineties to the recent Crankworx events, it’s a classic venue. These are a must for the World Cup to solidify its ‘world class’ status, just like Wengen for Alpine skiing or Spa-Francorchamps for Formula 1! Downhill as a discipline though, needs fresh and challenging tracks each season. This is the major challenge facing the organisers for 2019.
The crazy high speeds right out of the start-gate on Mont Chéry will be loved by all the riders as they’re quite rare on the World Cup circuit now, but further down the hill a more technically challenging and wider taped course will be needed compared to what was on offer at Crankworx these past three years, to keep the World Cup racers focused. It looks like a blank canvas for the XCO race on the Chavannes side of the valley, so I’m expecting a good mix of natural and man-made features.”
“2004 was the year my parents took a leap of faith and decided to move to the area, it just so happened that Les Gets was hosting the DH World Champs and I was nine years old. I was absolutely mesmerised by the event, picking up autographs from the pros wherever I could. I guess that was the day I made my mind up on what I wanted to do. I pretty much learnt how to ride a bike in Les Gets Bike Park, so for them to host a World Cup and for me to be able to be a part of it, with the riders I once looked up to, is really something quite special.”
“Generally, riders like Les Gets because there are many different tracks to ride within the Portes du Soleil area and the views are beautiful.
I’m looking forward to racing in Les Gets, it’s a mythical place where there have been many international races. And it’s always amazing to have a World Cup in France, it’s usually the best crowd so it’s going to be crazy!”
“It’s so good to have a World Cup in France. The spectators always come en masse and that’s cool. I think the English will have some legends to avenge!
The top of the track is really fast, it’s so good! We’d like to find a little freshness in the woods, that would be great. Otherwise I’m sure the atmosphere will be similar to what we’ve been used to at Crankworx – like holidays!”
“Les Gets is such an iconic venue, it’s not had a World Cup race for nearly 20 years and in the past World Championships have been held there, too. It’s a proper track, and like 20 years ago, it’s French riders dominating the downhill at the moment, so it’s going to be one of the biggest World Cups of the year.
It’s been a while since I saw the course, but I remember it being fast, natural and flowing. It’s a real World Cup track, French style, and that’s no bad thing since they almost invented European downhill.
I remember racing there plenty of times. Back when I raced it was with Peaty, Rockwell and Palmer, so yeah, all kinds of good memories, perhaps more at the bar than on the bike though!”
“It’s awesome that the World Cup is coming back to Les Gets, I have been racing in Les Gets since the late nineties and always had a lot of fun on the trails and in the town. The crowds have always flocked to Les Gets and I feel now the World Cup is back it will be bigger and better than ever.
I’ve had my ups and downs on these tracks over the years but I’m really looking forward to watching the new crop of riders rip it up on the hillside. See you all in Les Gets in July!”
“Les Gets has a great heritage in the World Cup, there have been some great races over the past years and the French often seem to come out on top. One of the nicest things about Les Gets, in my opinion, is that it links by chairlift or gondola to Morzine and Avoriaz, which then links to Châtel. How could you not have fun in an area like this?
After my disastrous start this season, I’m expecting even bigger things to come out of Les Gets. I can’t afford to have another bad weekend of World Cup racing, or else my season is definitely done. I was expecting to start the season off with a decent result, and that didn’t happen, but all eyes ahead.
I must be honest, I don’t have a lot of fun memories in Les Gets. I lost out in the World Championships to Fabian Barel by 0.46 seconds in 2004! So I’m hoping Lady Luck will be nicer to me this time around.”
“Some of my best memories of the early years of mountain biking in the Portes du Soleil were the World Cup and World Champs of 98, 02 and 04 in Les Gets. It’s going to put attention back on the area as a whole.
I’m really looking forward to seeing the rolling circus that is the World Cup in our neighbourhood again, seeing old friends and the race itself. The French know how to put on an event and the crowds will be buzzing!”
“Stoked to hear Les Gets is back on the circuit. Proper size mountain that one, with a bit of everything and I’m excited to see what they rustle up for the World Cup.
Les Gets is a good place to hang out, nice little town with a massive riding scene and I’ve got some good mates that live around there. I’ve no doubt the crowd is gonna be going mad come race day and I’m sure the post race beers won’t disappoint!”
“I hope everyone will enjoy the track and the crowd. In France we are used to a sick crowd that every single rider enjoys. I do believe the event will be one of the best of the year. The place is perfect for riders and spectators due to the good atmosphere and location.
I really hope the track will be similar to Crankworx as I know everyone enjoyed it last year, it was fast and technical with an incredible view of Mont Blanc at the top. Perfect place to race a World Cup.”
“It’s my fi rst time in Les Gets so everything is new but I know it’s a legendary World Cup venue with a lot of experience, so in my opinion it’s good to have Les Gets back in the World Cup circuit.
I’m looking forward to the whole World Cup week and, for sure, the riding in Les Gets. I was watching the Crankworx DH last year and the track looks really good to me. Speed – open grass corners, roots, big jumps, that’s what I like and what suits me well, so I’m really looking forward it.”
“The Les Gets World Cup track is one of the all time favourites amongst the people who were here in the early days of mountain biking. Les Gets brings back memories of the good old and wild days, and the modern downhill athletes are going to show us that they can get e ven wilder on it. I can ’t wait to see that.
I’ve got plenty of memories from Les Gets and I can’t believe it’s been so many years since we were racing World Cups there. The track has natural, wide open, high-speed grass turns mixed with super fast root sections and natural jumps! I definitely have more memories from Les Gets than just the race course, but I don’t think the y should be published…!”
“I’m buzzing to have Les Gets back on the World Cup circuit, in the past it’s provided some seriously tight racing and who can forget the infamous World Champs of 2004? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go and do y our homework!
Regardless of what track they use, you can count on two things; it being flat out and there being some flat grassy turns. If it’s anything like the track they used at Crankworx, the racers should love it. I entered the Crankworx downhill in 2016 and it was all-time, despite the torrential rain, flatting in the gondola and not being able to do my run!”