The Welsh hills once again play host to one of the gnarliest races out there, and a whole load of incredible riders are set to showcase their skills
Red Bull Hardline is one of the gnarliest events on the mountain bike race calendar, and from what we’ve seen the 2022 event will be as fast, technical and hard as ever. The main race takes place over the weekend of the 10th and 11th of September, though racers will be down checking out the course in the days ahead, getting used to the massive kickers, insane drops and crazy terrain.
Billed as the toughest downhill race in existence, there are few who’ve raced it that would argue that title, and 2022 represents the eighth edition of the event that has been run a steep mountainside in Wales since its beginning.
We’ll be updating this article with the latest news and the latest action from what’s billed as the world’s gnarliest downhill race.
Red Bull Hardline qualification results
After mixed weather conditions while riders got used to the track and scoped out lines, come Saturday it was time to lay down some top-to-bottom runs and qualifications.
Jackson Goldstone was looking comfortable on track, despite being new to the trails of the Dyfi Valley, and put down a great run that placed him third overall, with Hardline veteran Adam Brayton in second.
But surely one of the most impressive runs of the day has to go to Bernard Kerr, and not just because he was fastest down the hill. He was fastest down the hill by over a whopping three seconds, despite the dramatic crash that essentially saw his front wheel explode on one of the landings in the new jump line, resulting in a possible fractured hand and seeing Kerr sit out practice on Friday. If he can do that today, what is the multiple Red Bull Hardline winner going to pull out of the bag tomorrow?
If you’re noticing a few names not on the qualification list, be reassured that riders who didn’t complete their qualis run, or compete in qualifications, will still be able to race on Sunday.
Jess Blewitt voted BF Goodrich rider of the week
New Zealand rider Jess Blewitt, the first woman to ride the Red Bull Hardline, was voted BF Goodrich rider of the week by her fellow athletes. Blewitt, who has been sending the drops and jumps with the best of the riders, sadly won’t be competing in the finals as a crash at the iconic Step-Up jump resulted in a broken collarbone. It’s gutting for her, and for everyone cheering her on.
It hasn’t dampened her spirits however and she was happily signing caps and chatting to fans, and will be cheering everyone on for the big finale. We hope she’ll make a comeback to the event next year.
Red Bull Hardline 2022 start list
The rider start list has been confirmed, and represents riders from a range of gravity disciplines and nationalities, some first time competitors and others who’ve faced the challenge of the Hardline before.
- Phil Atwill
- George Brannigan
- Adam Brayton
- Ronan Dunne
- Craig Evans
- Dennis Luffman
- Sam Gale
- Jackson Goldstone
- Thibault Laly
- Harry Molloy
- Charlie Hatton
- Sam Hockenhull
- Matteo Iniguez
- Gaetan Vige
- Andreas Kolb
- Josh Lowe
- Brook Macdonald
- David McMillan
- Jim Monro
- Flo Payet
- Kaos Seagrave
- Joe Smith
- Vincent Turpin
- Theo Erlangson
- Dan Atherton
- Gee Atherton
- Danny Hart
- Bernard Kerr
- Jess Blewitt
- Kade Edwards
Among that roster of incredibly talented riders there are a few additional stand out athletes that deserve a little more attention.
First off, Dan Atherton, the man with the vision and know-how who created and crafted the Hardline into being. It’s this guy that we have to thank for some of those insane features, huge jumps, and iconic moments.
Lining up for 2022 will also be a selection of previous winners, including Danny Hart who won in 2014, and Bernard Kerr who has a whopping three podium golds to his name from 2016, 2019 and 2021 – can he add another to that impressive list? He’s been having a stonking downhill World Cup season so while competition is still, he’s certainly riding well.
Everyone is also keen to see what 18-year-old Junior World Champion Jackson Goldstone can bring to the event. Having grown up in Whistler, huge jumps and technical descents are second nature to him.
New Zealander Jess Blewitt will also be racing, hot off the heals of her impressive fourth place at the final downhill World Cup of 2022 in Val di Sole. Blewitt has competed in the UCI MTB Downhill World Cup, won multiple junior titles in her native New Zealand, and took part in Red Bull Formation, the women’s freeride event, in 2021.
The return of Gee Atherton
One rider everyone will be happy to see racing is Gee Atherton. One year ago, a horrific crash while filming The Knife Edge video left him with multiple injuries including a broken leg, wrist, ribs, nose and eyesocket. On top of the visible injuries, he also suffered from PTSD, night terrors and concussion.
“Obviously after a massive crash you never think you’re going to race again, or even ride again, but as I started to recover a bit Red Bull Hardline began to look quite appealing,” explained Atherton. “While I was injured I spent a lot of my time thinking about Red Bull Hardline and the goal of being able to ride again at that level was a massive driver. Through all those long hours in the gym it was a massive motivation for me.”
“Now I’ve had time to rehab, choosing the hardest race in the world to come back to maybe isn’t the best idea, but I’ve been training hard and I feel like I’m riding well – I’m not going to jump on the bike and aim for a podium, the goal is to ride Red Bull Hardline and to have fun doing it!
Physical injuries heal, but mental barriers can be a lot tougher to overcome, and Gee has been working hard over the intervening months to heal body and mind, and now the multiple World Cup winner with a 22-year career in downhill is ready to take on the behemoth of a track created by his brother Dan.
Feeling brave? This is the crash that took Gee Atherton out last year…
Hardline…. or fast line?
While the track and its features have evolved over time, for those familiar with what Hardline usually has to offer you’ll notice that there are some bigger changes afoot this year, with brand two new sections.
The first new section on top of the ‘Dirty Ferns’ hip jump sees a huge on-off that means riders will be able to gain the speed required to clear the next feature. Riders will hit a 40ft gam, touch down on a 30ft landing, then fly into another 40ft gap before speeding into the tree-lined section.
Next up are a set of truly massive doubles; 86ft for the first, 85ft for the second, and riders will be rolling in blind until they get airborne since the landing is hidden by the take-off. These were constructed to emulate the types of jumps seen at Fest Series events.
“Boundaries are made to be broken,” comments Dan Atherton, racing legend and Dyfi Bike Park owner. “Red Bull Hardline strives to keep pushing the limits of what’s possible in mountain biking and I’m proud to see Dyfi as the stomping ground for it all to happen.”
Some of the videos we’ve seen are suggesting riders are hitting 40 miles per hour on the fast section before the doubles! One things for sure; this may well be the craziest Red Bull Hardline yet.
How can I watch Red Bull Hardline
While spectators are allowed back trackside for the first time since the pandemic outbreak, tickets sold out quickly. But don’t worry, you can still catch all the action live on Red Bull TV, with the broadcast starting at 1pm on Sunday 11th September. In the lead up, there will be behind-the-scenes action with episodes available on the Red Bull Bike YouTube channel.
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