Val di Sole — Racing Under the Eyes of the Black Snake

To anyone who follows the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, the name Val di Sole brings one thing to mind: the Black Snake. The name given to the downhill track at the Val di Sole bike park venue, this is one of the most extreme tracks on the World Cup circuit. Where this steep, super technical track breaks the tree line, heading to the final kicker before the run to the finish, is the cross-country course. The track for the endurance-focused brethren of the downhill racers is equally as extreme-synonymous with the core principles of the sport.

As there's no dirt at Le Tour, we felt the need to send our photographers over for the weekend to document the affairs of some of our sponsored teams. As the technical apparel suppliers, it's up to us to make sure they have the right clothing to cope with the most demanding racing.

XCC — Short Track: Friday

Elite Male and Female XCC

As a new addition to the 2018 race weekend, the short-track style racing has certainly spiced up the competition.

Taking place on the Friday evening on a shorter track, it sees riders race for 30 minutes. Those who cross the finish line first are given a front or second row start for Sunday's race. As in any bike race, this positioning is crucial.

And aside from the preferential start placing, the riders can also earn half the points of their main event, which makes for super aggressive racing.

XCO — Olympic Distance Cross-Country: Sunday

U23 Male and Female

The proving ground for the next top elites, the U23s are always a great category to watch.

With riders from Nationals Teams (USA and Swiss) as well as some other ASSOS-attired teams, we were certainly interested to be on-site for a firsthand take on the racing.

In the men's U23 race, Filippo Colombo of BMC MTB Racing Team continued to show his fine form with a solid 4th place, a good way to start off the second part of the season.

XCO Elite Male and Female

This is the main event for the weekend, where the top riders do battle on Val di Sole's technical and equally hilly course, and where the crowds descended on the bike park arena to shout on their heroes.

Full gas from the gun, the laps soon flew by. Some riders excelled, some struggled, and others had some bad luck.

This high-octane racing, where so many surprises can crop up, is what we love about mountain biking-all thriller and no filler. And we're sorry to say, even with a certain large race taking place in France at the moment, there is no loam at Le Tour (even though we thought we saw Mr. Froome taking a detour on the hunt for some on Saturday's first stage).

Next stop for the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup is Andorra, where we won't be on hand personally for a front row seat, but stay tuned to our channels and those of our partners for the latest on the racing.

To make sure you've got the right kit for the toughest riding, head over to our men's and women's MTB collections. These riders have all had a part in its creation, so you can rely on performance fits, fabrics and more.