The best UCI DH World Cup runs of all time
April 10th, 2015
By Andrew Dodd
Even if you don’t ride or race downhill, you can’t help but get drawn in by the ultra exciting UCI DH World Cup and World Championships. The buzz surrounding it is amazing – and it’s one of the only parts of the sport that we can enjoy live thanks to the Red Bull TV live feed.
Over the years there have been some incredible wins, but it’s not always the win that makes the best race. Below are some of our all-time favourite race clips from the UCI DH World Cup and World Champs – some are spectacular wins, and others simply defy logic and gravity.
These are just some of our favourites though – there are far too many golden moments in the sport, so we’d love to hear what your favourites are on the Factory Jackson Facebook page…
Steve Peat. Fort William World Cup, 2005.
Finally, Steve Peat bagged the win on home turf at the Fort William World Cup – a race he’d never managed to previously win. This round of the UCI DH World Cup is renowned as having the best crowd on the scene, with up to 50,000 people filling the site up.
The final ‘motorway’ approach to the finish arena tests the riders stamina as they need to give it everything – the commentators know the time it takes to get from the famous archway to the finish line, so could make a call on if someone would win or not by the second they came through the archway. The crowd were nearly silent as the commentators Dan Jarvis and Chris Furber started the countdown – and when Peaty came through on cue the arena erupted.
Sam Hill. Champery World Cup, 2007
This was the first year that Champery was first used as a World Cup venue, and it freaked riders out. Even the worlds best riders picked their way down the course like novices – and it rewrote the rules on world cup track design.
From the off, it was clear that Sam Hill could think abut the course differently and his approach was totally different. He looked calm and calculated on the bike and took a confident attitude to the race. Virtually the entire field had a bone dry race – and still they struggled – but the heavens opened up and turned the course from a race track in to something that looked like a Columbian mud slide.
Although Sam didn’t win – the look on Matti Lehikoinen‘s face, who was in the hot seat at the time – said it all. Sam put in a fast run – with a crash – in conditions that ruined the rest of the field and came in 3rd place.
Dan Atherton commented on the course and conditions, saying that it was the only race he’d ever been in where his only strategy was to simply to stay on the bike…
Sam Hill. Val Di Sole World Champs. 2008.
Widely regarded as the roughest and gnarliest downhill track to race on, the Italian track was instantly loved by the racers, despite the huge amount of crashes and bike components destroyed.
Yet again, Sam Hill removed himself from the same thinking as the other riders, and was clearly willing to lay it all down on the line and really let the bike go to put in a storming race time. I remember chatting to Will Longden about this race, and he told me that watching the fast riders hit the last section of woods before the course spat the riders out in to open was the coolest thing he’d ever seen – and it made him realise that downhill racing had really stepped up several notches.
Rob Warner’s commentary alone makes Sam Hill’s race run exciting, but the sheer speed he attacks the course is frightening.
Unfortunately for Sam, he binned it on the penultimate turn just seconds from the line – scuppering his chances of taking the win. Still to this day, it’s one of the greatest – yet unluckiest race runs ever.
Danny Hart. Champery World Champs, 2011
On arguably the toughest course on the circuit due to it’s insanely steep gradient, Danny Hart put a time in on a wet course that will never be forgotten. He didn’t just take a convincing win and give a lesson on text book bike riding – it was complete annihilation.
On the course that riders struggle just to get down, let alone putting in a time Danny cleaned it and even fitting in a huge whip on the jumps near the bottom – before sailing through the line 11.69 seconds faster than the nearest competitor, Damian Spagnolo.
The second he came through the line – he knew it.
Will we see Danny Hart on this form in the 2015 season? We hope so! He’s got the right bike for the job now he’s riding the super light Mondraker, and he has full team support to help him get there. When the going gets wild – never count the Redcar Rocket out!
Aaron Gwin. Leogang, 2014.
The American rider had fire in his eyes and was ready to take a storming win on the Austrian course – but a puncture at the top saw him virtually out of contention. Except even with the tyre ripped off the rim, he carried on regardless.
What followed was just an incredible feat of riding – riding on a rim is one of the hardest things possible as there is zero traction for cornering or braking – and the wheel technically should crumple up like a crisp packet. Except Gwin didn’t slide out, and his wheel didn’t collapse. And his time wasn’t even that bad!
Neko Mulally. Hafjell World Champs, 2014
With commentators Rob Warner and Nigel Page having written him off the second they spotted his chain had snapped right out of the start gate, it really does go to show that in racing, it really isn’t over until it’s over…
With a flawless display of bike handling, and not a whole lot of braking – the young American put in an incredible run that beat several of the worlds best riders – and managed an incredible 4th place! He’s definitely going to be one to watch in 2015!
The UCI World Cup season kicks off this weekend at the brand new Lourdes track in France. Tune in at Red Bull TV for live coverage and get the beers in!