Rachel Atherton won't win. Sam Hill might.
When’s it on TV? What’s the course like? Will the weather screw it all up again? And our predictions about who will win the Downhill World Champs.
1. When is it actually on exactly (ie. UK time)?
The wee small hours of Sunday morning. Roughly from about 3am Sunday September 10 (see TV info below).
2. How are the Downhill World Champs different to a World Cup?
It’s a one-off race run, unlike the six race series of World Cup races. On-the-day performance is everything.
Riders race for their country as opposed to their sponsor.
There’s no practice runs to decide running order; the running order goes off current UCI rankings. This is why Sam Hill will the first(!) rider down the hill in the men’s race.
Whilst there’s no seeding runs there is time training practice runs. Currently Mick Hannah has set the fastest timed training run in the men (followed by Loic Bruni, Jack Moir and Aaron Gwin). Tahnée Seagrave has set the fastest women’s timed training run (followed by Myriam Nicole, Tracey Hannah and Emilie Siegenthaler).
3. Can I watch it online or on telly?
Both. Well, if you’ve got a relatively new telly that does internetty and Red Buttony things.
The BBC are broadcasting it via the Red Button service from 2:55am on Sunday morning. For those who prefer sleep to live bicycle racing, the replay will commence from 9:20am Sunday morning.
After a bit of will-they-won’t-they, Red Bull have announced that they will be streaming it online on Red Bull TV (à la their World Cup service).
4. There’s guaranteed to be a new Women’s World Champion
Rachel Atherton has done her collarbone in during practice which leaves the number of previous female World Champs competing this weekend at… zero.
The two hot favourites are arguably Tahnée Seagrave and Tracey Hannah. Seagrave is in the form of her life. Hannah has had her eye on this race ever since it was announced.
Current World Cup overall victor Myriam Nicole might just throw a spanner in the works though.
5. The Men’s race is wide open
To our reckoning there are about eight men who could claim to be in the running.
For a start, there are five existing World Champions competing: Danny Hart (who always pulls something out for the Worlds), Loic Bruni (who won at Cairns World Cup last year), Gee Atherton (whose fitness will count for a lot at Cairns), Greg Minnaar (imagine how much he wants to end this season on a high after disastrous World Cup finale), and Sam Hill (see the point below).
And then we have ‘local’ hero Troy Brosnan. Not to mention the relative wildcard of Mick Hannah too.
And current World Cup overall winner Aaron Gwin (see point below).
6. Because Sam Hill
The fact that Sam Hill is racing at all is exciting. But there’s more to it. A lot more.
He’s allegedly doing it on his enduro bike (single crown fork, dropper post and all). Some may say this is just a publicity stunt but we don’t think so. Hill has spent all year on this bike (well, the alloy version of it anyway). He’s comfortable and familiar on it.
He’ll be racing on flat pedals. He’ll not be the only one (Connor Fearon will probably be on flats too, for example).
He’s very probably going to win the Enduro World Series this year too. A win – or just a good result – for Sam in the DH Worlds would be one in the eye for those folk who criticise enduro and those who say that Hill can’t cut it in DH anymore.
He first won a (Junior) World Champs back in 2002. That’s fifteen years ago folks.
7. Aaron Gwin has never won this one
It sounds incredible – and we always have to keep double-checking this ourselves! – but Gwin has never been World Champion.
His best result was 4th in the 2010 World Champs at Mount Sainte-Anne. A lot of the times he’s suffered from mechanicals or injuries to be fair.
8. Nice bike mister/missus
There’s a fairly recent tradition of one-off custom paintjob bikes for the World Champs. You can check them out here.
9. What is the course like?
Rooty but dry and dusty. Not overly technical or steep but plenty of drama to be had in the latter half especially. There’s a small climb in the middle section(!). The infamous The Stutters motocross whoops ‘rhythm’ section is a key section too.
10. Will the weather screw it all up?
It’s unlikely to rain. Mostly sunny or partly cloudy at worse.
11. Who will win?
Tahnée Seagrave. Form is everything. Romance doesn’t count (sorry Tracey!)
Greg Minnaar. Despite the whole Hill-Brosnan-Hannah-Bruni sideshow, this race is a continuation of this year’s epic Gwin vs Minnaar battle. The course and the history strongly favours Minnaar.