The waiting is nearly over!

Everything you need to know about the 2017 UCI World Cup DH that starts this Sunday. Dates, telly times, favourites, bike tech, vital stats and gossip.

1. Dates, venues and TV times

Round 1: Lourdes, France

Sunday 30 April, live from 12:00 BST

Round 2: Fort William, UK

Sunday 4 June, live from 13:00 BST

Round 3: Leogang, Austria

Sunday 11 June, live from 12:00 BST

Round 4: Vallnord, Andorra

Saturday 1 July, live from 12:00 BST

Round 5: Lenzerheide, Switzerland

Saturday 8 July, live from 12:00 BST

Round 6: Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada

Saturday 5 August, live from 18:00 BST

Round 7: Val di Sole, Italy

Saturday 26 August, live from 12:00 BST

>>> 2017 race team news: who’s going where?

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2. It will be live on Red Bull TV

The race action will once again be brought to your computer/smartphone/tablet courtesy of stimulating fizzy red pop – This year there’ll be pre-show broadcasts for every race. And something described as an “innovative start camera” will be in effect this year. So too will more detailed zone-by-zone rider-v-rider split-screen analysis type stuff.

3. Claudio will be doing course previews again

To many people the most entertaining part of the whole weekend, Claudio Caluori’s course previews have become legendary. On a serious note though, these course previews have definitely got more people watching the actual racing day who might not have bothered before. Kudos Caluori!

4. Rob Warner will be commentating

The cause of many a muting and volume turning-down, the enthusiastic outbursts of Rob Warner do take some getting used to and behind the bellows lies a deep knowledge of the racing scene and history. Don’t let him put you off. Get used to his ‘style’ and you will learn something, honest.

5. It’s almost all in Europe

Only one round of the World Cup will be held outside of Europe (Mont-Saint-Anne in the U S of A Canada). This lack of international distribution is something that UCI need to keep a careful eye on to avoid bike industry and racing-fans’ grumblings. At least the World Champs is in Australia this year eh?

6. No new venues

Again, boo! We all like to see a wildcard track upset the apple cart. Doesn’t look like we’ll get one this year. All the racers will be pretty familiar with all of the tracks. So, no excuses guys and gals – let’s see some impressive times please!

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7. Aaron Gwin and Rachel Atherton are the reigning World Cup champs

Gwin and Atherton are by far the favourite. Gwin has won the last two Lourdes World Cups so things look good for him. Although… World Champion Danny Hart remains unbeaten since July 2016. And without wishing to put the curse on, Lourdes was the last race that Rachel Atherton didn’t win in the last two years of World Cups.

8. British 1-2-3 in women’s?

Is it too much to hope for a British 1-2-3 in the overall standings come August? Rachel Atherton, Manon Carpenter and Tahnee Seagrave have been on the same podium before (Lourdes last year) so wouldn’t it be amazing to see the three of them up there on the Overall podium once all the rounds are raced?

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9. 29ers will be everywhere

Haters gonna hate. Racers gonna race. Big wheels have proven to be faster in testing (even though they ‘feel slower’). You can be sure that it won’t just be the Santa Cruz Syndicate who’ll be riding 29in wheels in Downhill this year.

10. UCI has changed the rules

The bottom line is that there’ll be fewer riders and a separate event for Junior Women in 2017. Read all about it here.

11. Everyone loves stats

The 2017 UCI World Cup Downhill series will see racers covering 16.25 km of tracks, 3,814 metres of descending and 191 metres of climbing(!)