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Welcome to the brave new world of elite Downhill racing. This weekend in Lenzerheide, Switzerland will see new race formats, new schedules, new broadcasting rights and new commentators. Good luck everyone!
New format, new schedule
From now on, these races are still called “World Cups” individually but the overarching multi-discipline collection is known as the “World Series” now. Yeah, not entirely sold on the name TBH but hey-ho. We think most people are still going to use the term “World Cup” for all the racing for quite a while yet. Old habits die hard and all that.
There’s a new format to go along the new name too. And there’s no more Timed Training (boo!). There is still Qualifying, which still does award some points. But there are also now “Semi-Finals”. Semi-Finals happen on the same day as the Finals. Semi-Finals and Finals have points awarded.
Saturday (June 10th) Schedule:
UK times are as follows:
- 7:30am – 9:00am: Training
- 9:45am – 10:20am: Elite Women’s Semi-Final
- 10:20am -12:00pm: Elite Men’s Semi-Final
- 12:00pm – 1:00pm: Elite Women’s Final
- 1:00pm – 2:00pm: Elite Men’s Final
New format, new points system
Essentially, the new format sees an initially large number (much larger than in previous World Cups) of entrants get whittled down to a Final featuring 30 men and 10 women.
To be more specific, from the large initial field of riders today’s Qualifying (begins at 2.30pm UK) will see that field reduced to 60 men and 50 women. These riders go on to the Semi-Final, which will then reduce the field to 30 men and 10 women, who will go on to the Final.
Hardcore DH fans can watch the whole shebang, including today’s Qualifying. Whereas your more casual – or time-starved – viewer can just tune into the Finals.
Of most initial interest will be the Semi-Finals and how they affect the racing. Tactics and all that. Not so much in this initial race (where we suspect everyone will just go full-tilt all-the-time) but later on in the season there may well be some tactical racing occurring. Who knows? It’s impossible to say right now. And while ‘tactical racing’ is often a polite way of saying ‘boringly playing it safe’, it could well be that tactics adds an extra dimension to what is already The Best Sport On The Planet.
For Men, the top 60 places in Qualifying, Semi-Finals and Finals get points.
For Women, the top 15 places in Qualifying, Semi-Finals and Finals get points. There are fewer spots because of the smaller overall field of entrants.
Well actually, some of these places (in Qualifying and Finals) get zero points, as you can see below. But you get the idea. Hopefully.
Points System: Men
Points System: Women
New broadcaster, new deal
No more Red Bull TV. It’s now ESO and Warner (no relation) Brothers Discovery.
You can watch all of the racing on Eurosport and Discovery+ and via GCN+. Some of the racing will be free-to-watch for anyone and everyone, but the main Elite-level points-winning things will be pay-per-view.
It’s a bit late now (sorry!) but at every round of the DH World Series the Elite-level Qualifying – that usually happens a day or so before the main Finals day – will be free-to-view. As will the whole of the Junior-level racing, Finals including (which being at 12.15pm UK today). Which is nice.
As regards paying-per-viewing, via GCN+ there are two options. Annual or monthly. Annual subscription is £39.99. Monthly is £6.99.
Today is June 9th. The final World Series race of the year takes place on October 8th. So that means that in terms of just watching World Series Mountain Bike racing for the next four months, opting to pay monthly will total £27.96. You’ll just need to remember to cancel it when October arrives!
No more “LOOK AT THE TIME!”
No more Red Bull TV, no more Rob Warner. In the ESO era, commentating duties are going to be headed up by Ric McLaughlin.
Good luck Ric.
Anyway, about the racing itself. And the racers.
Last year’s World Cup Overall titles were won by Camille Balanche and Amaury Pierron.
Last time the racing was at Lenzerheide, Myriam Nicole and Amaury Pierron were the winners. Myriam Nicole is currently not due to race this year’s due to concussion recovery.
So, let’s play ‘who do we want to win’, versus ‘who do we think will win’.
Who do we think will win?
Vali Höll and Amaury Pierron.
Who do we want to win?
Rachel Atherton and Jordan Williams. Obvs!
Yes, Rachel Atherton is racing. And Jordan Williams has made the move up to Elite.
Join in via the comments below 👇
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