Over the years the UK has produced some amazingly talented downhill racers. Jason McRoy led the way, followed by Peaty, Warner and then a raft of others.
Since then a lot of work has been put in to finding young talented riders and to nurture and develop them hopefully to become great racers. Peaty has taken riders like Brendan Fairclough, Marc Beaumont, Josh Bryceland and Neil Donoghue (amongst others) under his Royal Racing wing during his career. And look at the likes of Danny Hart and Manon Carpenter, both under 21 and World Champions. We have (had) a wealth of young talented over the decade, but who is next? We ask three of ‘those in the know’ who they think are the names to be looking out for in the near future.
So the question is:
Who are the UK downhill racers that we should be looking out for in the future?
CHRIS BALL SCOTTISH CYCLING, UCI, DIRTSCHOOL, ETC…
The UK’s persistent production of great riders comes from the shear strength in depth within the country. Local, regional and national races are all at maximum capacity and are competitive all the way through the ranks. There’s a bunch of fast young guys who’ve been bred on a diet of regular competition and are incredibly talented.
Looking at the juniors this year – Joe Connell and Fraser McGlone have both come off good national seasons and both picked up some experience of a World Cup final as a first year junior. They’ll be firing on all cylinders come 2012 and looking to build on some of the great performances they managed in 2011. A year younger, George Gannicott and Ross Wilcox are incredibly talented and are both stepping into the junior category in 2012. Get ready to see some exciting racing from those two in the next few years.
Sitting on the wing there’s some great riders too. Members of the Borders College BASE course, young lads like Mike Spence, Drew Carters and Christo Gallagher, to name just a few of them, are all riding really fast and are dedicated to making themselves even better. Then there’s a bunch of young rippers in the Youth category too, like Sam Herd. Watch out for him in the future.
So, the future’s bright for talent. If teams develop stronger grassroots programmes and support juniors on the international stage there’s no doubt the UK will continue to produce world–class riders in the years to come.
WILL LONGDEN UK MTB LEGEND
It’s funny, I look at this question and immediately think about the consistency of the current top UK riders, it’s pretty tough to become the UK’s ‘next big thing.’ As Peaty has shown, it’s possible to stay at the top of this sport for decades. In the same way Jason McRoy showed the way to international racing in the early days, Peaty went on to show guys like Gee (Atherton), Brendan and Marc how to make a long career out of racing DH.
To break through that cast iron level of talent is no mean feat and only the well documented rise to the top of Danny Hart in the last few years has managed it, and in women’s racing Manon Carpenter, inspired in no small way by Tracy Moseley and Rachel Atherton. While really talented riders around them have been lost into the not inconsiderable talent of top 30 World Cup riders.
So, at the risk of pointing people out to be shot at, I would say we have to look to young riders (I know, no shit!) and maybe right now not so much their raw speed but there style, consistency, their attitude and their approach to racing. All the natural ability in the world isn’t enough without a pint–sized portion of hard work, that’s what takes you the last rocky straight of the way to the World Cup podium.
So, a young rider from the North East called Andy Dorritt is on my radar, a little pocket rocket who looks like he came from the same mould as Dan Hart. Another juvenile rider Ben Kennedy shows some great natural talent. I think youth rider Phil Atwill, especially with the guidance of Tim Flooks as team manager, will continue to improve. Josh Lewis of SPS has everything going for him, and with the girls the crystal ball is clearer, Manon Carpenter and Tahnee Seagrave will dominate within the next 3–5 years. Not forgetting that other young lad from Sheffield Steven Peat, that diesel engine is only just run in!
SI PATON HALO BDS RACE DIRECTOR
If you want to look at who is going to be Great Britain’s future World Champion then you have to reference Seb Frost’s Roots and Rain website and British Cycling’s Downhill Rankings for the Juvenile category. This is the youngest category that can race at regionals and nationals and they are (possibly) the stars of the future. Top of the tree is Scotland’s Frazer McCubbing. His 690 points are a full 50 points clear of his nearest rival. Frazer raced eleven times in 2011 taking the win at ten of those, that is some record to beat. The majority of those wins were at the Scottish Nationals (SDA), which offer some of the best tracks here in the UK and of course the best riders.
Now add into the winning recipe the fact that his brother Callum is no slouch either (with regular top tens), and you will often see Frazer chasing–down his older brother. Can there be more incentive than sibling rivalry? Ask Rob and Rich Warner that question, or more famously, Dan and Gee Atherton. There really can be no bigger carrot to dangle in front of a racer.
The Scots also have their very own Downhill Academy based up in the Borders where gifted riders, in–between lectures in maths and English etc., hit up the trails, dirt jumps and gym whilst sipping protein shakes.
The future? Stay away from women, Buckfast, hot hatches and most importantly, stay injury free and keep on winning. Race all of the BDS National Series and then get picked up by a big team and use their support to give you two bites of the cherry at the Junior World Championships. Then aim for the senior World Championships title and that converted jersey at a race where it is miserable, wet and muddy…just like back home in Scotland!