Electric riding, big victories and class acts – this is what the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup is all about. The 2019 series brought together this generation’s fastest and fiercest riders for the next chapter in the multi discipline, multi category event which stretches Europe and the US.
In 2019, ever-prolific Nino Schurter reinforced his place in the history books, picking up a seventh career Olympic Cross-Country (XCO) title, in the face of competition from the likes of Gerhard Karschbaumer, Mathieru van der Poel and early series pacesetter Mathias Flückiger. While in the women’s Elite, Kate Courtney edged out defending champ Joland Neff by a narrow margin of just 30 points.
The Downhill series witnessed exceptional and emerging talent at every turn. Frenchman Loïc Bruni wrapped up the series in dominant fashion, and Tracey Hannah showed why she is the woman-to-beat right now, taking home the title in the women’s category.
THE BEST OF THE REST
Though the champions’ podiums were always going to be the main focus at Snowshoe, West Virginia on the final weekend in early September, it was also a chance to remember the other memorable turn ups throughout the year. Let’s take a look back.
The 22-year old Brit, who has been making his stamp on the International stage for some time now, was hoping to better his career best second place at the UCI World Cup. A win would further cement his name as one of the fastest riders in the world – and he did it in style.
Off the back of a hard-fought podium finish at round 4 in Vallnord in July, the fledgling Downhill Elite landed in Val di Sole, brimming with confidence.
The infamous and unforgiving Black Snake track has always been a favoured stomping ground for Laurie, after picking up a silver medal in the World Champs in 2016 and claiming runner up spot at the 2018 World Cup. It also would prove to be the stage for his first ever World Cup win, as he rumbled, hustled and weaved to a close victory over series leader Loïc Bruni.
Skip to 2:40 to watch Laurie’s race.
“I feel insane man, so stoked,” Laurie said on the day. “I’m just so glad it happened here, it’s always been a place that’s been good for me. It’s my type of trail, not very man made, all natural and you can just sit by in the handlebars and just get on with it”
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It was also a big breakthrough year for XCO rider Anne Terpstra, who ended the series strong to secure an extremely respectable fourth place in the overall standings.
Anne had also become the first Dutch female rider to win a World Cup cross country, earlier in the year. In hot and dusty conditions in Andorra, the race was not short on drama, with as many as eight riders in contention. The lead changed hands several times before Anne dug deep on the final lap to take the hot seat and snatch victory from Jolanda Neff.
Post-race she said, “I didn’t expect this, I’m just very happy. When I attacked and I saw I had a little gap, I went for it”. The win saw Anne reach the peak of her powers and would also spur her on to take two second-place podium finishes in Lenzerheide and Snowshoe.
Her World Cup series performances paved the way for an exceptional season, and in September 2019 she reached number one in the UCI World Rankings for the first time.
Bubbling under the surface of the Elite categories, the fierce and fast-evolving talent, Thibaut Dapréla, became the unstoppable force in the Downhill Junior Men’s category.
Perhaps the most convincing of all the riders in 2019, Thibaut won the overall series with plenty of breathing space. Taking top spot at five of the 10 rounds – Maribor, Fort William, Leogang, Les Gets and Snowshoe – including back-to-back World Cups at the first three rounds of the year, the title was never really in doubt for the Frenchman.
Thibaut already has two U17 French Championship titles to his name, and he also won Crankworx Les Gets DH race in 2016 and 2017. Still a teenager, he has emerged as a red-hot prospect in the world of mountain biking and will be looking to take the step up into the Elites in 2020. Watch this space, this kid’s the real deal.
The unpredictable nature of the UCI World Cup puts it among the most high-octane global events in the world. Packed with high drama, tight racing and big breakthroughs, one thing’s for sure, the series is alive and well. Next year? Get ready for more of the same!