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HAFJELL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2014
This season of World Cup downhill has seen some amazing racing, the sport has developed for the riders and delivered for the fans. This could well be the most successful year for riders from these shores. It’s not incomprehensible that we have this much talent in the UK but what was incomprehensible from this World Champs is the missing root level support.
Without going into the details we should have had more Junior riders in Norway, the likes of Manon Carpenter, Gee Atherton, Josh Bryceland, Rachel Atherton, Tahnee Seagrave and Laurie Greenland have proven we have the talent but this hasn’t been supported by our governing body. We should have every medal contender at World Champs and hopefully British Cycling have seen this now and will send a full roster of riders to Andorra.
We all know World Champs is an exciting one with everything coming down to a few minutes of concentrated effort in the hope of walking away with five coloured stripes and the pride of winning.
The track in Norway is a tough one, it’s rough, harsh and takes no prisoners, this weekend it sent a few to hospital and put an end to the dreams of countless others. The big guns were firing but many were off target, Emmeling Ragot had a crash that resulted in a broken wrist the day before finals. She will have been gutted to miss out on World Champs but this could be a bad way to finish her career, there are rumours floating that Ragot is hanging up her goggles in downhill but we don’t know anything for sure.
Opening the proceedings were the Juniors and the shadow of Meribel hung low over Luca Shaw who wanted to make up for letting the overall slip to France’s Loris Vergier. It wasn’t to be for Luca and Loris held it together to take the win. Taylor Vernon and team mate Martin Maes were set to light up the track but a crash for Vernon and a burped front tyre for Martin left them out of the running. It was the UK’s Laurie Greenland and Ireland’s Jacob Dickson (of the Orange Dirt Team) who took the other two medals home. For Laurie it was a great result even if he wanted to nail the title and for Jacob he couldn’t believe what had happened. We are hoping for more of the same from the little ripper next year.
Riding high on confidence is a big part of this sport, the mental game is where it’s won and lost at the highest level. Manon Carpenter linked together a run that was collected and smooth. She took the top spot from Tahnee Seagrave who has excelled in her first year in Elite and she was only knocked out of the hot seat by fellow Brits. It was Manon who slipped into first place with only Atherton to come down the hill. Crossing the line the lights were red for Rachel and Manon threw her arms aloft, winning the World Champs just weeks after lifting the overall trophy in Meribel Manon rode a wave to the end of her biggest season so far. Three British women filled the podium in Hafjell and proved that the UK has the best of global DH talent.
The Men’s race was one surprise after another, some big riders went down, others just didn’t have the gas and one man, Neko Mulally went into the hot seat only to be knocked off by the fastest three and he did all that with no chain!
Sik Mik Hannah had been looking quick but ended up on the deck, fastest in Timed Training and looking to hold onto three Worlds in a row Greg Minnaar also crashed out hitting a tree hard with his shoulder. Danny Hart slipped out losing a chunk of time and Sam Hill had a massive over the bars in the final rock garden that put him out after turning the early splits green. Josh Bryceland was on for the win until it came to the last jump. Riding the same relaxed wave that took Manon to the win Josh was about to snatch the win to go with his overall and National Champs title when it all went wrong. Misjudging the wooden bridge jump Josh landed to flat and blew his pedal. Badly breaking his ankle it was his race over and going by Twitter this morning he has had surgery to repair multiple breaks and dislocations. Heal up fast Ratboy!
The man on the day was Gee Atherton, after a disappointing season Gee took the win and made it his second World Champs title. We could have been looking at another full British podium but Troy Brosnan upset the UK reign and took third. Even with Josh’s crash he still made second which proves he was on track to beat Gee but this is Worlds and anything can happen.
So that’s it, another season of downhill done and dusted. It’s been a roller coaster and a season that has turned a new leaf in the story of World Cup racing. The new breed are alive and battling with their mentors and heroes, next season will see some team changes and no doubt another year of cracking action. A huge thanks has to be given to Laurence Crossman-Emms for bringing us these amazing galleries and we will be paying homage to his work soon on the site.
Check out the best of the weekends action right here: