How to watch the Fort Bill World Cup, where to see the semi-final racing for free, and how much you’ll need to pay for the finals


After what feels like forever, the UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup is back! And the season opener is at none other than Fort William in Scotland. This weekend, (3-5 May) will see the world’s best men’s and women’s DH riders open the books on the 2024 WHOOP UCI Mountain Bike World Series. The XC racers began their seasons a few weeks ago, but now it’s the turn of the long-travel, triple-crowned riders to show us just how hardcore mountain bike racing can be.

Fort Bill is the first of seven rounds in the World Cup this year, with the series heading as far as Canada later in the season. So how can you make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action?

How and where to watch

If you’re in the UK, then the racing will be shown on Eurosport TV channels as well as the Eurosport and Discovery+ apps. The Junior category racing and Elite semi-finals will be available for free, live on YouTube as well as the UCI Mountain Bike World Series website. But for the Elite finals on Sunday, you’ll need a subscription to either Discovery+ or Eurosport. If you go down the Discovery+ route you’ll need the Standard Plan, which is £6.99 a month – you can join for just one month but you’ll need to immediately cancel the subscription to avoid paying for a second.

Gracey Hemstreet won at Fort William as a junior in 2022, and has to be a favourite for the win in 2024 | Credit: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull

Timings (BST)

Saturday 4 May

12:00 – World Cup, Qualification, Women

12:30 – World Cup, Qualification, Men

14:00 – World Cup, Qualification, Junior Women

14:15 – World Cup, Qualification, Junior Men

15:00 – World Cup, Semi Final, Women

15:30 – World Cup, Semi Final, Men

Sunday 5 May

11:30 – World Cup, Final, Junior Women

12:00 – World Cup, Final, Junior Men

13:15 – World Cup, Final, Women

14:00 – World Cup, Final, Men

Bernard Kerr was favourite at the Worlds last year, but slid out in the woods and finished in 43rd | Credit: Boris Beyer

How does DH racing work?

Downhill, or gravity racing is pretty simple – the fastest rider from the top to the bottom of the track wins. It’s done in a time trial format, so each rider sets off one at a time rather than as a mass start like in XC. Courses are usually between 3-5 minutes in length, and vary in technical challenges depending on the course location.

While the idea of racing from top to bottom is pretty simple, the UCI has altered the format in recent years so that there are now semi-finals in which riders must qualify from in order to ride the finals.

So, you have the training runs which aren’t televised, and then the qualification runs. These qualification runs determine who’s going to get through to the semi-finals. The top 60 Elite Men and top 15 Elite Women from qualifying make it through to the semis.

From there, you have the semi-finals. The results of which determine which top 30 Elite Men and top 10 Elite Women will make it through to the finals.

The course

So what’s all the fuss about Fort William that brings out 10,000 fans every year? Well, it’s not usually the weather – although this year might be different. Riders usually brace themselves for a bit of a washout when they head to Scotland, but in 2024 it looks like those north of the border have been gifted summer a bit earlier than the rest of us. According to the Met Office, there’s a good chance there won’t be any rain during the race runs this weekend. Temperatures are also set to hit highs of 17°C. 

But what about the course? Well, it’s the second oldest track on the calendar this year, and in its history has seen plenty of greats come and go. It’s 2.8km in length making it the longest track in DH, and it drops 475 metres in height.

The section at the top of the run is pretty exposed, so winds play a big part here – ideally riders want it to be calm, with fast, sweeping turns awaiting them. Then come the boardwalks, before the first technical rock gardens and slabs.

The woods come shortly after, and the track turns to more dirt. This is where things really start to get technical, with roots, rocks and tight turns through the trees coming into the mix. There’s also a river gap just for good measure, which has been redesigned for 2024 to be absolutely enormous, check out Adam Brayton’s Gas to Vlog for a sneaky first look.

Finally, things open up and get faster towards the bottom end of the run with the motorway section, some big jumps for riders to get up to speed before the final push to the line.

Riders to watch

As the first World Cup round of the season, it’s always pretty difficult to pick out winners – it depends not just on who’s been training well over winter, but who’s suited to the track and of course, Lady Luck has to play her part. But there are a few standout riders to watch. Valentina Höll has moved race teams for 2024, starting with the YT Mob. She won the overall World Cup DH title and World Championships last year, so it’ll be interesting to see how she gets on with her new rig and team. Here she is training and preparing though, and looking pretty darned fast on the new rig…

Nina Hoffmann will also likely be contending for the win. Tahnée Seagrave will also be a crowd favourite, as the Brit fought back from a head injury before fighting back into podium contention last year.

On the men’s side of things, it’s hard to overlook Loic Bruni ahead of this year’s World Cup. Sadly Jackson Goldstone is out with an injury at the moment, but there are plenty of rippers waiting to take his place. Riders such as Mondraker’s Ronan Dunne (winner of the Red Bull Hardline in Tasmania), and Oisin O’Callaghan (winner of the final round of the World Cup last year). We’re sure to see another tightly contested season in 2024, with riders like Bruni’s teammate Finn Iles and Frenchman Amaury Pierron looking to step it up. For the Brits, Laurie Greenland and Bernard Kerr are always worth a punt.

And last year’s winner at Fort William was of course Charlie Hatton, he’s obviously got something really good going on at Atherton Racing after such a strong season in 2023.

Watch via VPN

If you’re in a country with geo-blocking, then live streaming the events is still an option – all you have to do is download and install a VPN and use a location such as the UK or USA to watch the broadcast live .

Setting up a VPN is simple – just download, install, open the app and select your location.

Try out Express VPN for its speed, security and simplicity to use. It is also compatible with a range of devices and streaming services (e.g. Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Xbox, PS4, etc.), giving you the option to watch wherever you want.

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