The 2014 UCI DH World Champs took place over the weekend in Hafjell, Norway. The racer’s favorite track was introduced onto the World Cup circuit a few years ago and always puts on a fantastic race. There has only been one Elite Male winner so far in the form of Stevie Smith who won both world cups in 2012 and 2013, but this year Smith was taken out by his second ankle injury of 2014.
The 2014 World Cup season has been one of the most exciting seasons ever, with multiple first time World Cup winners and Sam Hill making it back onto the top. It all came down to the last round in MeribeL, France where Josh Bryceland took the overall title just in front of Brosnan and Gwin.
Going into this year’s Worlds there were a handful of guys who were on a roll and could take the win, it was wide open which made for some awesome racing.
To kick things off it was the Junior’s race where we had Laurie Greenland take silver medal, the youngster has shown all year what he is capable of, and in his first year of World Cups I’m sure a silver medal feels fantastic.
Next up was the Women’s finals and after a year where Rachel Atherton hadn’t dominated the top step like previous years we saw Manon Carpenter take the overall title. Atherton’s season has been plagued with illness from the start which made it really hard to battle with Carpenter who really stepped up her game for 2014. With Atherton regaining strength at the latter stages of the year she proved at Meribel that she is still a top step contender. Unfortunately for French hopeful Emmeline Ragot a crash in practice resulted in a broken hand and a spectators seat for Sunday’s race.
Manon Carpenter adds the 2014 World Championship Crown to her World Cup victory, while heading up a three-Brit podium top tier of Manon, Rachel Atherton and Tahnee Seagrave. Atherton was up at both splits but couldn’t match Carpenter’s flawless bottom section crossing the line 0.088 seconds behind giving Manon her first Elite Women’s World Championship title. Tahnee Seagrave has been improving all season in her first Elite year and took home a well deserved bronze medal 3.463 seconds behind Carpenter.
Onto the main event the Elite Male Race. Kicking off the drama was USA youngster Neko Mulally who snapped his chain literally 10 seconds out of the gate on the big jump section at the top. For most spectators it looked like Mulally’s day was over but Neko thought otherwise and fought all the way to the bottom giving it his all. Going into the hot seat in front of team mate New Zealand’s Brook Macdonald and French men Remi Thirion. There were only three riders who managed to go in front of Mulally pushing him into a very respectable 4th. It was Atherton to first knock Mulally out of the hot seat going 2.2 seconds faster.
Troy Brosnan has had his best season yet, claiming his first ever World Cup win and obtaining the leader’s jersey for a few rounds mid way through the season. The young Aussie put down a fantastic run putting him just behind Gee 0.566 back.
Last rider down the mountain was Josh Bryceland, Ratboy has been on unbelievable form this year also taking his fist ever World Cup win and taking the overall title. Josh had the confidence coming into the race and going off his first split he had brought his A game and wanted that overall title. It looked like Bryceland had the gold; all rock gardens were conquered, all root sections were destroyed, but it was the second to last jump that caught Josh out and created some real drama.
Josh completely boosted the wooden kicker a bit too much, landing to flat and the massive impact from the landing looked to just be a damaged crank or pedal. But after Josh came across the line it was clear something else was seriously damaged, Bryceland’s face said it all. Teammates and fellow riders came to his aid and manhandled him over to the podium where medical staff inspected Josh’s suspected shattered ankle/foot. All that said, Josh still came across the line only 0.407 seconds back putting him in silver medal position.
Here’s Josh’s unbelievably fast run, and the moment where it all went wrong.
So Atherton takes the win and claims his second Elite Men’s world title, Bryceland has finished off his best season yet with a fantastic silver medal but also some broken bones. Brosnan claimed a well deserved third to finish off his fantastic year.
And here’s Manon’s winning run.
Meanwhile, there was also a cross country World Champs in Lillehammer. Unlike the downhill, there appeared to be no Brits in the men’s XCO and only Trek’s Annie Last in the women’s race, where she came 12th. The men’s race was won by Julien Absalon and the women’s by Catharine Pendrel.
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