We take you through the teams, the venues and of course the racers themselves…
From Dirt Issue 110 – April 2011
Words by Sven Martin. Photos by Sven Martin.
When it comes to downhill racing the UCI World Cup is the pinnacle of our sport. Nowhere do you find the fastest downhill racers in the world battling it out so fiercely, to win is their ultimate (and only) goal. There is no margin for error, it is a straight race against the clock, fastest down the hill wins…simple. The title of World Champion may have the glitz and fancy jersey, but the one–off event can’t really compete with the all–round battle of bikes and bodies that the World Cup produces. Spread over four months, and visiting seven countries on three different continents, hundreds of riders will compete to win downhill racing’s ultimate prize. To become World Cup Champion means that you will have joined an elite group of racers, there have only been nine winners of the title in the event’s 18 year history.
Racing has changed over the years. Bikes and components are better, racers are more aware about fitness, diet, conditioning, skills and professionalism. Gone are the days of the ‘rock star racer’ who would roll out of the bar after an all–night party and jump on their bike. I don’t really like to use the word athlete, because it conjures up images of soulless obsessives that are more concerned about their protein and carbohydrate intake rather than what’s on the track in front of them, but racers these days are true athletes. Downhill racers are still the daredevils of mountain biking, they are the ones that can mix grace and skill with aggression and power. I may be biased, but is there really any better type of racing? Hauling down a mountain, dodging roots, rocks and trees, in all types of weather conditions…this is what mountain biking is all about isn’t it?
Over the next few pages we’ll take you through the teams, the venues and of course the racers themselves. So get ready, on Sunday April 24th the world’s best will be in the start hut once again. Light the blue touch paper and stand well back.
Mike Rose. >>