The UCI Downhill World Championships are part of the Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships, which are an annual event organised by cycling’s governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). Downhill is one of five competitions that currently make up the event, which usually concludes the pro racing season. Winners are presented with a gold medal and are entitled to wear the rainbow jersey for a full year in future events of the same discipline.
The first World Championships, at which XC and downhill competitions were held, were staged in 1990 in Durango, USA, where the inaugural downhill champion was American Greg Herbold. Since then, a downhill competition has been held at every World Championships at venues all around the world. In 2014, the event is due to be held in Lillehammer, Norway, and in 2015, in Vallnord, Andorra.
The most successful rider in the history of the men’s race is French legend Nicolas Vouilloz, who has been crowned champion seven times, including five consecutive victories from 1995 to 1999. On the women’s side, the rider with the most titles is France’s Anne-Caroline Chausson, who astonishingly won the race every year from 1996 to 2003 and then again in 2005.
At the 2013 World Championships, held in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Brit Rachel Atherton claimed her second title with a dominate performance, finishing eight and a half seconds ahead of her closest rival, France’s Emmeline Ragot. In the men’s race, local boy and reigning champion Greg Minnaar claimed his third title.