2013 Retrospective: Top 5 World Cup Moments
Now as 2013 is almost over we've taken a look back over the last 12 months of World Cup DH racing, here's our top 5 moments
As 2013 is coming to a close it's time to reflect on what has passed in the last 12 months. We've had a seriously exciting year in terms of the progression of the sport, with the first year of the Enduro World Series, record breaking DH World Cup viewing figures and mountain biking slowly becoming more mainstream, which can surely only be a good thing.
We've got several reviews coming up this week to help reflect on 2013's top moments and to carry us seamlessly into 2014, starting with our top 5 World Cup moments. (Not necessarily in order!)
Just looking back over the last year there have been so many amazing moments from the Downhill World Cup, but we've boiled it down to our top five moments of the year. By all means, feel free to add your own suggestions for your personal season highlights below...[splitpost intro="true" numbers="true"]
Remi Thirion winning the World Cup in Andorra.
One of the biggest surprise results of the year comes from Rémi Thirion and his first ever World Cup win in Vallnord. Not only was this his first World Cup win, it was also his first ever World Cup podium, plus he also was the first man to beat Gee Atherton on the World Cup circuit in 2013.
This race was won in Rémi's frame sponsor's (Commencal) home town, which was the icing on the cake. He also brought the French back to the top of the men's podium. Hopefully we'll see Rémi on the podium again in 2014.
To read about all the stats, and to see where Rémi won the race read our stats post here.
Here is the run Rémi threw down, you can just see the speed he was going and the creative lines he was hitting.
DirtTV: Vallnord Finals
Rachel Atherton wins at Fort William
Something that seems to have been forever in the making and we couldn't believe it hadn't happened already, but Rachel Atherton taking the win on home soil at Fort Bill by over 10 seconds was a pretty amazing moment! Then when brother Gee crossed the line also in first place we all felt pretty darned proud to be British.
This win was also the start of Rachel's most successful season ever (and also record breaking): she won all but two rounds of the World Cup and also took the World Champs title. She is now the record holder of the most World Cup wins from a British rider.
DirtTV: Fort William Finals
Jared Graves podiums at World Champs.
Yes, not quite a World Cup moment... but as this was a pretty bonkers moment in the year of world level DH racing, it seems only fitting we include it.
When Jared Graves was selected for the Aussie team to race World Champs, we were a little surprised, as he had been focusing his efforts on racing enduro for the season. This surprise was of course reaffirmed when we heard he was racing the World Champs on his enduro race bike... However, if there's a man for any job on the circuit, it's Graves.
When Graves came down the hill in timed session in seventh place, we were pretty amazed, although we probably shouldn't have been - the man's an animal. Mitch Ropelato coming down the hill in 2nd place on his 29" Specialized Enduro put all eyes on the 'enduro' race bikes.
Unfortunately for Mitch, he crashed on the first corner in his race run. Graves, however, showed his experience and certainly wasn't slowed by any mistakes, coming down the hill straight into the hot seat, only to be pushed into third place by Greg Minnaar and Mick Hannah. A staggering result for a racer no longer focused on the downhill circuit and racing at stupendously high speed down the South African course on that 'little' enduro bike.
Let's just say it again: Graves finished just 3.3 seconds back from the win at the DH World Champs on an enduro bike! Staggering.
To read into the split times in-depth check out our Geek Stats post here.
DirtTV: World Champs PMB
The turning point for Stevie
The next moment in our top 5 is when Stevie Smith took his first World Cup win of the year in Mont Sainte Anne, Quebec.
Stevie came down the hill almost one second faster than Gee Atherton, taking the first in a hat-trick of World Cup wins which ultimately led to the World Cup overall win. This win in MSA was on home soil too which made it extra special for him.
Gee was in the hot seat after a clean run down in the dry due to his slow qualifying run, but as the top guys took to the stage the heavens opened and unfortunately no one could touch the time that Gee had set... that was until Stevie came down. Smith was down on Gee's time at the first two splits but pulled it out of the bag at the bottom section in simply terrible ground condition and managed to take the win - probably the most inspired race run from anyone all season.
Stevie vs. Gee in the final race
Our final top World Cup moment of 2013 was the battle in the final round of the series at Leogang, when everything was on the line for Stevie Smith and Gee Atherton.
Coming into the round with only 17 points separating the pair, everything was pretty much level pegged and the series really could have gone either way. We were on the edges of our seats, hell knows how the racers felt!
As if 17 points separating the two wasn't close enough, after qualifying there were only 3 points separating them! It really couldn't have got any closer. It was all boiling down to the race run and couldn't have been more exciting to watch. Nail-biting drama, ground-breaking rivalry and simply incredible bike handling skills led to the final finish line being crossed to put a cap on the season, and Smith walking away proud in the World Cup Champion's jersey.
Here's Gee's run.
Here's Stevie's run.
DirtTV: Leogang Finals
There you have it, our top 5 World Cup moments of 2013. What were yours?
Photos: Laurence Crossman-Emms