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Britain's Downhill World Championships team is announced!


The selection of the riders going out to World Champs must be one heck of a decision, but let’s face it, Gee and Rachel Atherton made one part of the decision just a little bit easier, but what about the rest of the squad?

British Cycling use a few different criteria to decide who goes to the World Champs and then there is a selection panel of usually 4/5 people, including the performance director who oversees all major championships, and he can call upon a specialist from each discipline to offer advice to help come to the final decision. It’s tried and tested and works well, especially for DH where a better understanding in recent years (initially started by Helen Mortimer providing better support for DH) has lead to an increase in the team size both last year and this.

First of all we have to look at the track that this year’s World Champs is going to be raced on – Pietermaritzburg in South Africa, one of the most pedally and fast tracks on the circuit. A big part of the decision making will have come down to which riders will suit the track. The track is split into three sectors, the top section of the track is the steepest and most technical part of the track, it then turns into a flat out 40 second sprint section, the track then takes another turn. The bottom section of track is packed with berms and jumps, definitely a track that won’t suit everyone, and you definitely need to be fit! From what we’ve heard riders on the shortlist all had to undergo a fitness test this year as part of the decision process. No slackers allowed!

Last year British Cycling took 8 elite men, 3 elite women, 6 junior men, 1 junior woman, 1 elite male 4X rider and 1 elite woman 4X rider.

So who has been selected?

Elite Men

Gee Atherton: You’d have to be stupid not to bring Gee along judging by his recent results. He finished in 3rd in 2011 and 4th in 2012, so will he be able to continue his successful year and take the rainbow stripes this time?

Danny Hart: He’s hasn’t won a World Cup yet (even though he has been close on many occasions), but if you remember back to 2011 he took the World Champs win by a staggering 11.699, at Champery. Although Pietermaritzburg is a totally different track, the guys at British Cycling seem to think he’ll do well. Is Danny going to take two World Championships before winning his first World Cup?

Steve Peat: It’d almost be an insult not to take Steve Peat to the World Champs; he’s been selected every year, except for the races he missed due to injury! Slightly off the pace this year on the World stage, but this track could suit his ‘power game’.

Josh Bryceland: Ratboy is still yet to win a World Cup but he’s still one to watch. He’s been buckling down and training hard over the winter, he wants a win. Could he take the World Champs this year?

Greg Williamson:Greg Williamson is a new British hopeful who’s been taken under the wings of a big team, Trek World Racing, hopefully with the support of a big team behind him he should be able to perform.

Matt Simmonds:

Marc Beaumont: On the team with Gee, he’s been slightly over shadowed but he is still definitely someone to keep an eye on.

Reserves -

Brendan Fairclough: Is in as a reserve just like last year. He has been on the circuit for years now, and just like Bryceland, Brendog is yet to take a World Cup win. He’s probably glad he’s not going as it’s not really the sort of track to suit him.

Bernard Kerr: Is in as a reserve, the track at Pietermaritzburg is the sort of track that will suit Kerr.

Elite Women

Rachel Atherton: This woman is unbeatable this year, she hasn’t ever won at Pietermaritzburg, but judging by her current season she has to be the favourite for the win.

Manon Carpenter:
The only woman that has managed to challenge Rachel this year, is Manon Carpenter. She beat Rach in qualifying at the last round of the World Cup in Vallnord, but the young Welshwoman is yet to win a World Cup, but she looks well on her way to doing so.

Fionn Griffiths: Fionn hasn’t had the strongest of results this year, but she has performed well at Pietermaritzburg in the past, come in 2nd place in 2011.

Junior men

Mike Jones: Young lad from Wales proved himself last weekend in Vallnord, Pietermaritzburg is a totally different track that will require an added level of fitness, can he take ever so famous rainbow stripes?

Phil Atwill: Has missed the last round of the World Cup due to injury, but he should be fighting fit by the time it comes to World Champs. He’s for sure one to watch at Pietermaritzburg.

Innes Graham: Innes is the current National Champion and also at the Scottish Champs he not only won his category, he also had the fastest time of the day, beating all the Elite men. He is definitely in with a chance at the World Champs!

George Gannicott: Will we see young Dirt Norco rider George do any damage, quite often we see British Cycing take a lot of Juniors along to the World Champs to give them a little bit more experience.

Sam Herd: Similar to George, Sam has had some strong results in the past, yet to break through into the World Cup results, maybe we’ll see him break through during World Champs.

Junior Women

Tahnee Seagrave: Tahnee is a young gun, who has been mixing it up with the elites, she’s currently ranked in 9th position overall and leading the Junior Women’s category.

And finally for those of you interested in knowing a bit more about the criteria that are used to select the team, then the official guidelines from British Cycling can be found here.

Interestingly in that document we spotted the answer to one of our original concerns about whether or not the team would be smaller this year due to the costs of getting riders over to South Africa. It turns out that this year British Cycling have decided to offer a sliding scale of support when it comes to flight costs. The very top riders get them paid for completely, and then as you work down the list the riders have to pay an increasing percentage of the flight cost. I suppose with a limited budget it is the fairest way to do things and it means we can send more riders, but you could argue that it’s the lesser riders who are more likely to struggle with the cost.

  1. Hmmm

    No Joe Smith?! That man can pedal with the best of them…

  2. Willy W

    How does Pietermaritzburg require an added level of fitness over Vallnord? Fitness does not equal pedalling! Vallnord required over 4 mins of controlled power, strength and aerobic capabilities that were constantly challenged and pushed to the limit due to the high speed and technical nature of the course. If anything Vallnord is afar greater physical challenge then PMB but is not seen as such because in the minds of so many within this industry pedaling = fitness!

  3. Matt Grindrod

    i’m probably going to get slated for this, but i’d take Kerr over Peaty

    1. Matt Grindrod

      also, no mention of Sam Dale? we’ve got a pretty stacked portfolio of riders if he doesn’t get a mention somewhere in there. i’d have though his performance at the mega would count for a bit more

    2. joe puddle

      I’m with you on that one. No one can say what Peaty has done for the sport isn’t amazing, but you have to question what British cycling gains from taking a 39yr old when a younger ride would gain so much more.

      1. francomb

        yes Peaty is ageing a bit but he’s still pulling in strong results. Also add to the fact that he brings experience to the team, I imagine he would be able to mentor the junior riders much better than say Kerr could.

  4. Eastie

    You really have to feel for Joe Smith…

  5. Neill Hope

    “The very top riders get them paid for completely, and then as you work down the list the riders have to pay an increasing percentage of the flight cost”

    Pretty sure the Athertons could afford the air fare. Should be the little guys that are getting the support or it should be the same rate across the board.

    1. Hancock

      Pretty sure all those guys in Elite male could lean on their teams for a flight to the worlds, seems weird that you’ve got guys riding for the biggest DH teams in the world, who all dearly want to put World Champion stickers on their bikes, but British Cycling is paying to get them there.
      BC should be paying for the young-uns.

  6. John

    Simmonds on form, but surprised Smith not on there

  7. Dave

    @mattgrinrod Kerr over Peaty? Are you mental? Surely looking at past results on this track alone, you’d take Peaty over all of them, apart from Gee!

  8. Si P

    Peaty killed it Andorra, thoroughly deserved… Experience is everything.

  9. phil

    Joe or Sambo over Greg surely

    1. Johnny Utah

      4 of these riders have achieved the top 10 at world cup criteria this year (Gee,josh,Danny,Greg), they go regardless. Next in line with an 11th each is Peaty and Marc, final place was a throw up between the rest of them. In my opinion, should have waited until after MSA for a decision.

    2. Willy+W

      surely not…………duuuh

  10. Max

    Mayb another young female rider like jess stone given a chance would have been a better idea than Fionn griffiths

  11. Jacky C

    Have you looked how far behind The top 3 Jess and Fionn are? Both 40seconds plus. At least Fionn has done well at the Worlds track before and has had a 9th in Andoora this year. Jess has never had a top 10. The idea is to win medals not awards for charity…

  12. Max

    Yeah you might be right from that view.the womens race is far more space out than the mens so the time differences are normal for them. i don’t mean to be a charity but to give young riders a chance,the world champs has often been one for the wild cards.

  13. Max

    Also you have to think about thier careers and looking towards the future of the sport

  14. Max

    Guess you could say the younger ones will have thier chance later.tough decisions

  15. Maverickdh

    Peaty inclusion is awesome, to you guys who think a younger rider should have gone instead, what you gain is experience only he can bring to the rest of the team, that is irreplaceable and a massive gain, not only that he will do well they’re no doubt, wouldn’t surprise me if he’s top UK male easily! Pretty good choices overall.

    1. Paul

      So peaty is a good rider, he has won loads of races, but he is losing his mojo. If the best thing he can bring to the team is experience then he should be their coach, he shouldn’t be wasting a space on the team. And I would refute your claim that there is no doubt he will do well, if you would care to look at the current world cup results. After round 2 peaty was 28th overall, with 7 British riders ranking higher than him, 2 of which didn’t even make the reserves (Joe Smith and Sam Dale). Admittedly peaty came in at a respectable 11th in Vallnord but only 2 places behind him was Fairclough who is a reserve. It’s admirable that the man is still going but is it not better to quit whilst one is ahead, rather than fade away into the nether regions of the leader-board.

      I also think that Beaumont doesn’t deserve his place, it just would be really embarrassing for him if he wasn’t in the team. 2 out of the 3 races this year Fairclough has ranked higher than Beaumont. Just saying.

  16. JC

    Paul you have to ask really whether any of these riders have a ‘big’ result in them at PMB. Gee surely does, Danny – maybe? but riders like Sam Dale – I just can’t see it. Whereas Peaty, yes I agree his pace is less consistent and strong but he still has that potential to kill it on the day. He’s strong at PMB, won Worlds in 2009 on a not dissimilar track and had the pace of all, even Gee, 2 weeks ago at national champs. Peaty should defo go, its a wise choice that BC have looked past basic stats from this season alone.

    1. Paul

      JC, I wouldn’t say that peaty can’t win world champs, but loads of riders ‘could’ win it. And yes he did win worlds in 2009, but thats 4 years ago, which when you are his age 4 years is quite a long time. The reason peaty is on the team is the same as beaumont, they are reputable big name riders, it has nothing to do with their current level of riding (as I was trying to point out to Maverickdh). I guess I would prefer to see a team of young riders getting faster, as opposed to older riders getting slower.


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