UPDATE 15/9/16: It looks like Gee Atherton could be fit enough to ride the Hardline after all, despite crashing out hard at the Worlds and injuring his shoulder. Atherton Racing says it’s not a certainty and Gee’s shoulder is still sore, but with specialist treatment planned for this week his plan is still to ride.

Red Bull Hardline, the gnarliest and most intimidating downhill race in the world, is back for its third year… and by crikey it looks tougher than ever.

The 2016 Red Bull Hardline takes place in Snowdonia on Sunday September 18th.

09:30 – 11:00 – Practice session
11:00 – 14:00 – Qualifying
15:00 – 16:00 – Finals

Tickets have now sold out, but don’t worry, you’ll be able to watch the whole thing on Red Bull TV.

Designed and built in North Wales by Dan Atherton, the idea of Hardline is to take mountain biking on to the next level. It features tougher rock gardens, bigger drops and scarier jumps than you’d ever see in a World Cup downhill race.

The only problem was, last year Dan built the track to be so insanely hard no one could ride the 50ft gap, half way down the mountain. Well, 12 months later, it seems they can: Here’s proof with Dan and Gee stepping it up. It looks like they’ve brought in a big metal kicker to get more of a boost over the gap.

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When you get the call from @dan_atherton that it's time to start testing the Redbull #Hardline course, you know you're in for a heavy day! It didn't disappoint. @jeep_uk

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Who’ll win Red Bull Hardline?

Last year Ruaridh Cunningham won, and in the inaugural race Danny Hart took the win. They’re both hot contenders then.

But the fastest man on the course has always been Gee Atherton, but unfortunately he’s punctured two years in a row. It’s not looking good for the local either, as he’s just pulled out of the World’s with an injury.

The current Hardline start list

  • Gee Atherton
  • Dan Atherton
  • Adam Brayton
  • Craig Evans
  • Bernard Kerr
  • Elliot Jackson
  • Reece Wilson
  • Ruaridh Cunningham
  • Mark Wallace
  • Brage Vestavik
  • George Brannigan
  • Remy Metailler
  • Eddie Masters
  • Rupert Chapman
  • Matt Walker
  • Brook Macdonald
  • Remi Thirion
  • Mick Hannah
  • Nico Vink
  • Alex Bond

For most riders at Hardline it’s more about surviving the monstrous course than shaving seconds off their run. The track has been ramped up in difficulty from its inaugural year in 2014 — the Renegade hip no one could hit now has a motorcross ramp as a takeoff and looks around 45ft long. Worse, it features the sketchiest run in we’ve ever seen.

What is the Hardline?

Hardline was born in 2014, the brainchild of Dan Atherton, who wanted to create a course tough enough to challenge the best riders in the world. Last year it rained on the practice day, making the features even more challenging — a 60ft road gap, 45ft step down and some of the steepest, slickest Welsh hillside imaginable challenged everyone.

Almost every rider crashed hard at some point last year, with Taylor Vernon retiring after casing a jump and hurting his foot, winner Ruaridh Cunningham going over the bars on one of the many step downs and even Dan Atherton breaking his shoulder in the days before the race even started.

Only eight riders completed the gruelling course, whittled down from the 15 who signed on to ride. Red Bull invites the top 30 world riders to compete, but coming right after the finish of the World Cup season and just before Rampage, just half that number turned up.