2022 Downhill World Champs: Preview and Talking Points

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World Champs is the perfect microcosm of the sport of DH. A week of hype and custom paint jobs ending with one race run to win it all. One race that means you get to wear the infamous jersey for a year and the 5 stripes on your collar and cuffs for eternity. 

All photos: Red Bull Content Pool

The Flying Scotsman – 2020 World Champion Reece Wilson won’t be racing this week due to injury but his run at Les Gets 2021 was fully committed…
Men’s podium 2021 (l-r Benoit Coulanges, Greg Minnaar, Troy Brosnan)

With that level of success comes great pressure and only a few can handle it. Since its inception in 1990 only 15 male riders have become World Champion. Of those lining up this weekend only 3 have worn the stripes, Greg Minnaar (Champion in 2003, 2012, 2013, 2021), Danny Hart (2011, 2016) and Loic Bruni (2015, 2017, 2018, 2019). 2020 winner Reece Wilson is missing through injury although announced yesterday that he’s back on the bike and will be at the final round of the World Cup in Val Di Sole next week 

https://www.instagram.com/p/ChkiKl8MDMI/

It’s a race that the French specialise in. In the Men’s, between them Francois Gachet, Nicolas Vouilloz, Fabien Barel and the aforementioned Bruni have 14 Gold Medals. The Brits are next with 6, then the US (who’s last winner was Myles Rockwell in 2000) and South Africa (all Minnaar) on 4. 

Danny Hart has won the title twice before

In the women’s race the stats are tremendously similar. France, with Anne-Caroline Chausson, Sabrina Jonnier, Myriam Nicole, Emmeline Ragot and Morgan Charre have 16 golds and the Brits are second again with 7 thanks to Rachel Atherton, Tracy Moseley and Manon Carpenter. Of the women lining up this year only Nicole and Camille Balanche have won the title previously.

Women’s Podium 2021 Worlds (l-r Marine Cabirou, Myriam Nicole, Camille Balanche)

The French team will be huge this week, they’ll probably have more people spotting lines than some teams have in total. On home soil they’re the favourites and they have the strongest team by a considerable distance. Amaury Pierron has dominated this season in a way we haven’t seen since Aaron Gwin was in his prime back in the early to mid teens. Loic Bruni is the man for the big occasion. Loris Vergier has won a World Cup this season and after qualifying fastest for that race in Andorra proved that he can handle the pressure. French National Champion Benoit Coulanges has been there or there abouts for the past 3 seasons and took Silver at last year’s Worlds and then there’s Daprela, the wild card who has spent this season trying to tame that wild side. In the Women’s of course they have 2021 World Champion Nicole who is one of only a handful of women who can take the title.

Bernard Kerr is on the form of his life…

What about the Brits then? Well, it’s a strong team with Ethan Craik, Laurie Greenland, Danny Hart, Charlie Hatton, Bernard Kerr, Jamie Edmondson and Greg Williamson in the Men’s race. With the absence of Matt Walker though there’s probably only Greenland, Hart and Kerr who will challenge for the win but there can only be one winner and World Champs is about more than just that, which we’ll come on to shortly. In the Women’s race we have Louise Ferguson, Stacey Fisher, Mikayla Parton and KJ Sharp. Tahnee Seagrave was selected but is still absent with concussion.

Laurie Greenland and Finn Illes are 2 of the form riders

Outside of the French and the Brits who else could win the Men’s race? Well, not only does Greg Minnaar have 4 Gold Medals, he also has 4 Silver and 3 Bronze. If he was a nation he’d rank fourth behind France, Great Britain and the USA. He’s the current World Champion and we know never to count him out. Finn Iles took his maiden World Cup victory in Mont Sainte Anne just a few weeks ago and outside of Pierron he’s been the outstanding rider this season. Australia’s Troy Brosnan took bronze last year and third in Mont Sainte Anne and can never be counted out. Andreas Kolb is having an amazing season, US National Champ Dakotah Norton is capable of a winning run as is Spain’s Angel Suarez-Alonso and could Ireland’s Ronan Dunne be an outside bet for a medal?

Troy Brosnan attacking the 2021 Worlds track in Val di Sole

One race the Irish won’t be winning is the Elite Women’s with no female athletes entered for either the DH or XC despite National Champions Meghan Flanagan and Caoimhe May being keen to take part. Flanagan was initially told this was due to funding but had already booked and paid for the trip herself so all she needed Cycling Ireland to do was enter her. Then she was told it was down to not meeting the criteria. Quite how the National Champion of any country can’t make the criteria for Worlds is beyond me. Whether you can potentially win or not you’re the best that country has to offer and you should be there, it’s a festival of cycling. Obviously, the criteria isn’t available to view and if it’s down to World Cup performances doesn’t appear to have been applied to the men’s team.  

Vali Hoell has won 2 of the last 3 World Cups

Who are the favourites for the Women’s race then? Well, there’s Nicole obviously. Camille Balanche broke her collarbone in Mont Sainte Anne but is heading to Les Gets to try, surely it’s too soon though? She’s leading the overall ahead of the final round next weekend. Austria’s Vali Hoell has won 2 of the last 3 World Cups, Germany’s Nina Hoffmann has a World Cup victory this season and Eleonora Farina has had a great run of podiums. 

Loic Bruni after his race run at the 2021 Les Gets World Cup

So, what about previous winners on this track? Well, despite Les Gets hosting multiple World Cups, there’s only been one race held on this track which was last year and it was rain affected. That shouldn’t diminish Thibaut Daprela’s victory, it was a great ride but the best placed finisher of the top 10 seeds was Bernard Kerr who finished sixteenth. Tahnee Seagrave took the win in the Women’s race (not weather affected) with Nicole second and Balanche third.

… where Thibaut Daprela took the win

The track looks like a mix of that track with some fresh sections. There’s a 22 minute preview video here…

The weather was a factor last year and given it’s in the mountains there’s always the risk of a storm. Thunderstorms are forecast for Saturday which could make things really interesting but let’s just hope it doesn’t ruin the race.

There’s some big jumps on the Les Gets track but Myriam Nicole seems to have overcome her fears

In Junior Men current World Champion Jackson Goldstone will be the favourite but Team GB have a great chance with 2021 Silver Medallist Jordan Williams leading the charge alongside Dom Platt, Jack Piercy, Douglas Goodwill, Toby Driscoll and William Brodie. Luca Thurlow was also selected but unfortunately broke his collarbone earlier this week https://www.instagram.com/p/ChhLTBCsskX/

Similarly in Junior Women Phoebe Gale is one of the favourites with Aimi Kenyon and Bethany McCully alongside her on Team GB. Current World Champion Izabela Yankova is back to defend her title but Canada’s Gracey Hemstreet and Gale are the ones to watch.

Jackson Goldstone has already claimed the 2022 Junior World Cup title

There’s a couple of weird things that happen at Worlds and nowhere else. The first thing is that the riders have an extra day of practice between seeding and race. The second is that seeding doesn’t actually count for anything, riders leave the start hut in order of their UCI ranking.

The schedule

Tuesday – Track Walk

Wednesday – Practice

Thursday – ‘Seeding’

Friday – Practice

Saturday – Race

Aaron Gwin has had 2 World Cup podiums this season. He couldn’t take the title that has alluded him for all these years could he?

Talking Points

1. At the ripe old age of 40, can Minnaar do it again? No one thought he would win in 2021 and we know to never count him out.

2. With 2 podium World Cup finishes this season Aaron Gwin is getting back to his best. Could the American take the title that has alluded him for all these years?

3. Outsiders have delivered the run of their life to take the title in the Women’s race Morgane Charre in 2012, Miranda Miller in 2017 and to some extent Camille Balanche in 2020. Could an outsider take the crown?

4. The great unknown… What part will the weather play?

5. Could Team GB take both Junior titles?

It’s on Red Bull for UK residents: https://www.redbull.com/int-en/events/uci-mountain-bike-world-championships-en

Loris Vergier could be a good choice

Let’s have your predictions in the comments below…

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Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 61 total)
  • 2022 Downhill World Champs: Preview and Talking Points
  • matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    ‘mon the UK riders… It would be so sweet to have one or two of them up on the podium – and we have seen a ‘surprise’ before when someone pulls it out the bag on race day.

    Kayak23
    Full Member

    Laurie will get it this time I reckon. He’s on it.

    gavalar
    Free Member

    Cycling must be the only sport that decides a world champion whilst negating previous results, to lose in the world’s and yet win the overall must be quite an empty feeling as the emphasis is put on one race.

    jim-the-saint
    Full Member

    gavalar – The World Cup overall winner is always held in higher esteem than the World Champ’s in DH. The World Champs is the biggest race, it’s not the most important title.

    Think of like the FA Cup final is the biggest game in England but the Premier League winner is the most important title.

    cyclelife
    Free Member

    Red Bull Live feed is Geo restricted according to my app!
    How do we watch it?

    johnjn2000
    Full Member

    @cyclelife, not again, I swear this is why I had to endure BBC commentary in past seasons

    keefezza
    Free Member

    I’ll be gobsmacked if Pierron doesn’t win this, he’s pretty much got the overall in the bag already. He’s been almost unbeatable this season.
    Also, Myriam Nicole I suspect will win it for the women.
    Jackson Goldstone junior men and Gracey Hemstreet or Phoebe Gale for the junior women.

    Gonna be a good one to watch. I think red bull have a way around watching it in UK?

    Paul
    Full Member

    It’s 2 different streams for different regions, presuming you’re in the UK then use this one

    https://www.redbull.com/int-en/events/uci-mountain-bike-world-championships-en

    The 2022 UCI MTB World Championships live stream with english commentary only, on Red Bull TV, is unfortunately subject to a geo-block. The stream is only available in the following regions:
    Albania
    France
    Slovakia
    Sweden
    UK

    For everywhere else, use this stream
    https://www.redbull.com/int-en/events/uci-mountain-bike-world-championships-les-gets-all-languages

    desperatebicycle
    Free Member

    The stream is only available in the following regions:
    ..
    UK

    So why do they show it as bleeding blocked in the UK? Can’t be that hard to set an app to work properly, what with all their resources??
    It’s also on Eurosport (2) – commentary by… ?

    BruceWee
    Full Member

    C’mon Minnaar!!

    Do it for us middle-aged folk!

    George Thompson
    Full Member

    It’s so hard to pick the Men’s, but if I was a betting man I’d go Pierron. Women’s, either Nicole or Hoell.

    a11y
    Full Member

    It’s so hard to pick the Men’s, but if I was a betting man I’d go Pierron. Women’s, either Nicole or Hoell.

    Incredibly hard to pick the mens, but I too wouldn’t bet against Pierron. Yeah, maybe the sensible thing would be riding conservatively to then focus on the final round of the world cup for the overall, but (as MSA showed) I don’t think he’s programmed to ride conservatively! Plus the prospect of winning world champs on home soil in front of home crowd, that’s got to be worth something extra – although it’ll boost the other Frenchies in the same way.

    Women, Pompon for the win although Hoell’s been superb recently as has Balanche.

    Do we know if it’s the usual amount of coverage via RB, i.e. just the elite women and men, or will the junior races be broadcast somewhere because it’s world champs? I’ll really like to see those too.

    Paul
    Full Member

    Do we know if it’s the usual amount of coverage via RB, i.e. just the elite women and men, or will the junior races be broadcast somewhere because it’s world champs? I’ll really like to see those too.

    Just the usual elite men’s & women’s – the junior finals are at 9:30am on the Saturday, the first RBTV stream is midday for the women’s elite.

    Sharkattack
    Full Member

    I’ll be gobsmacked if Pierron doesn’t win this, he’s pretty much got the overall in the bag already. He’s been almost unbeatable this season.

    All he had to do to win the overall was finish in the top 25 at the last race. I would have bet my house on him wrapping it up and I would have lost.

    It’s so wild and unpredictable. Picking the winner is just a guessing game.

    dirkpitt74
    Full Member

    Hoping for Laurie & Bernard to make the podium, but suspect it will probably be one of the French lads that take the top step.
    Women’s is probably a 3 way – Pompon, Cammie & Vali, but as has been said anything can happen at world champs!

    johnjn2000
    Full Member

    For the women I would love Cammie to do it (Obviously I would prefer a UK rider but I am being realistic) I don’t know if it was just me that sensed this, but when she came out of nowhere and won it in 2020 I got the feeling that the media felt it was a bit of a fluke. I didn’t get the sense that anyone thought she would follow up with anything else in her career and they continued to hype the usual lot. So pleased she proved them wrong. Anyone else get that view or just me?

    Sharkattack
    Full Member

    Is Cammie racing? She broke her collarbone in MSA.

    johnjn2000
    Full Member

    Is Cammie racing? She broke her collarbone in MSA.

    I thought the expectation was that she would be ready in time but maybe that was for the overall rather than the champs. Getting mixed info about Tahnee as well, I thought she was done for the season but some suggestion she will be racing

    ayjaydoubleyou
    Full Member

    Qualifying is today (wierdly) as the race is saturday.

    Also as its world champs as I understand it there is no cut off, everyone who completes qualifying gets to race, and they also go in UCI rank order. So not quite sure what the point is apart from a confidence boost/willy wave if you do well.

    Is Cammie racing? She broke her collarbone in MSA.

    The Vital video from yesterday had a woman with blonde hair and what looked like a swiss top crash on the road gap and get up holding her shoulder. But it doesnt seem to be her. There’s a junior swiss woman. Or it may not have been a switzerland jersey at all

    Sharkattack
    Full Member

    It’s not real qualifying it’s like the equivalent of timed training at the World Cup. You can put down a heater or play it safe. Starting order is already decided so there’s no points chasing.

    Bear in mind that because of how riders are selected for World Champs there will be lots of riders who have never raced a WC before and couldn’t possibly qualify for one on a normal race weekend. Some of them won’t make it past today.

    The first riders you see on the live feed (which I’ve just noticed is 2 hours long ) could be interesting/scary to watch.

    johnjn2000
    Full Member

    Has there been any live or recorded sessions yet on any of the channels?

    cyclelife
    Free Member

    Those links to unrestricted feeds go to the Geo restricted streams!

    dirkpitt74
    Full Member

    Looked back through the live timing and Tahnee is a DNS and Cammie is in 6th.

    Live timing & Results link

    Sharkattack
    Full Member

    I’d be happy to see the finals go down like this…

    1st. Jordan Williams: 3:31.361
    2nd. Jackson Goldstone: 3:35.100

    Nice one Jordan.

    crab
    Free Member

    Greenland dnf in qualis. Harts time looking like he crashed somewhere near the top.

    samcamsdad
    Full Member

    Greenland was up all last night with a stomach bug according to his Instagram post this morning, so he just crossed the beam in qualifying to make sure he’s in finals on Saturday.

    BruceWee
    Full Member

    The Vital video from yesterday had a woman with blonde hair and what looked like a swiss top crash on the road gap and get up holding her shoulder. But it doesnt seem to be her. There’s a junior swiss woman. Or it may not have been a switzerland jersey at all

    Is this your pitch to be next years live commentator?

    Sharkattack
    Full Member

    That’s rough. I’ve been up all night with the squits in Les Gets, it can happen to anyone.

    Sharkattack
    Full Member

    The young lady hitting the deck on the road gap (first clip in the vid) is 18 year old Delia Da Mocogno. Turn the volume up and you can tell it was a real stinger.

    jimmy
    Full Member

    Turn the volume up and you can tell it was a real stinger

    Was that a bone snapping? Please say no.

    tomparkin
    Full Member

    The first riders you see on the live feed (which I’ve just noticed is 2 hours long ) could be interesting/scary to watch.

    The first ever World Champs I watched, maybe 2016 or so, was eye-opening. I was used to watching World Cups with riders zipping down everything with no bother, and suddenly there were riders tripodding their way down, sliding on their arses, you name it.

    Really illustrated just how hard these tracks are, in a way that World Cup coverage can’t quite capture!

    malv173
    Free Member

    Was that a bone snapping?

    Quite possibly! But if you watch it on slow motion you can see the moment her wheel tacos. Horrible, horrible crash,

    Hope it doesn’t claim more victims during the race.

    geforce-junky
    Full Member

    113 elite men entered, but only 80 qualified, so it did have some meaning. Danny and Laurie qualify as they are protected riders (top 20), so 82 elite men total.

    Watched the Junior Women’s XC today but didn’t hang around for the boys. Was hot enough watching, looked very hard work!

    Ben Haworth
    Full Member

    Gwin and Hoell.

    Yes, Gwin.

    Fahzure Freeride
    Full Member

    T-Bone just needs to find that sweet spot between wreckers and checkers. Other than AP, he’s the most likely to win it.

    weeksy
    Full Member

    Wow wow wow it’s incredibly steep!

    geforce-junky
    Full Member

    Well this weather sucks. Thunderstorms and heavy rain at the moment, could change things up for tomorrow.

    FunkyDunc
    Free Member

    Thunderstorms and heavy rain at the moment

    Its 20 yrs since I biked at Les Gets, and I remember the runs down from where the DH starts were incredibly slippy mud (very much clay)

    Lets hope it makes it fun !

    I guess most will not bother riding today if raining. Certainly the lifts will be shut until thunderstorms pass

    weeksy
    Full Member

    Sunny now. But proper wet.

    weeksy
    Full Member

    Was chatting to Danny Hart as he was checking out lines. He’s ok but feels like he’s been hit by a bus

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