UCI World Cup Downhill and XC Mountain Biking Men/Women

#1

If you have a device which supports the Red Bull TV streaming app, you can watch the full/mostly full runs for the Downhill Worldcup events. *OH, they also have a functional website, now.

There are 7 or 8 courses in the full circuit. While an individual win at each stop is highly prized—you also accumulate points for an overall win, at the end. Then they also have a single world championship event, in which many other teams who don’t do the world cup circuit, enter additional riders. And its sort of a one-off event, with a much larger pool to potentially beat you. And its a separate win/trophy, from the world cup overall.

Anyhow, the camerawork is decent enough that you get a pretty good view of the action and I find it to be pretty enjoyable to watch. They show complete runs of the top 6 or so qualifiers, at each course, which is pretty amazing. and partial runs of several others, before the top 6 go. They still have some work to do on production, as they have several errors in syncing camera changes. But its really quite enjoyable. Also, they don’t show you in the on screen graphics, which team/bike brand each rider is racing for. So even as someone who knows about biking, half the time I’m not sure which brand they are on. (some of the time the commentators will say. Some of the time they have a jersey one which is obvious. Some of the time, I can recognize the bikes themselves. But its getting tougher, as a lot of brands are doing similar shapes now. More so than in the past).

As with some other sports, the competitiveness and skill level of the Women is on a sharp rise and its a really interesting time to watch. There is a family of riders, the Athertons. Two brothers and their sister, Rachel Atherton (sidenote: they have a pretty cool show called “The Atherton Project”, which summarizes their biking exploits in 10 minute bites. For about 10 years now).

Spoiler, Rachel Atherton won every single world cup event in 2016. She rides more like a man, than any of the other women. but that is starting to change, as her dominance has lit a fire. If you want to go back and watch the 2017 season, I won’t spoil that.

However, Red Bull’s app and site are absolutely terrible for navigation. On the app, search “UCI” and you should be able to bring up a UCI Mercedes Bens mountain bike master menu, which gives you branching access to previous seasons, and the current season, of Downhill (they also have XC and cross riding). From there, you can watch the individual stops, separate into Women’s and Men’s episodes.

The Red Bull site does not have a master menu, so you kinda just have to sift through “related” videos and such. its a pain.

Here is the 2018 schedule and I have taken the liberty to link stuff.

April 21-22: Lošinj, Croatia
Women’s
Men’s

June 2-3: Fort William, Scotland (this course is pretty fantastic for entertainment value. Its longer, so you uave more time to wtap your brain around a run. and also a bit less technical. More flowy and has lots of jumps at the end. would be a good one to start with, although you will likely spoil the winners at Croatia.)
Women’s
Men’s

June 9-10: Leogang, Austria
Women’s
Men’s

July 7-8: Val di Sole, Italy
July 14-15: Vallnord, Andorra
August 11-12: Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada
August 25-26: La Bresse, France
September 4-9: WChamps Lenzerheide, Switzerland

P.S. I do recommend watching a complete episode, to get a feel for the events and the format. But, I tend to skip ahead. For the Women, skipping about 9.5 minutes ahead, usually skips you past the qualifier stuff and on to the final runs. Which is the important part. For the men, its about 15 minutes to skip in each episode. Unfortunately, the bit where they show you a gopro view of each course, is kinda randomnly inserted. So I usually end up skipping over it.

If you wish to watch the 2017 season, here is the schedule. Should make it a bit easier to find it if you know what to search for (try something like "UCI DH + name of location).

29-30 April - France Lourdes
3-4 June - United Kingdom Fort William
10-11 June - Austria Leogang
1-2 July - Andorra Vallnord
8-9 July - Switzerland Lenzerheide
5-6 August - Canada Mont-Sainte-Anne
26-27 August - Italy Val di Sole

*notes about what to watch for: The commentators are pretty decent. But, you’ll get a visual feel for how fast riders are moving. and just keep mental note of the last riders, vs the one you are currently watching. Camera angles are mostly the same, so you can sort of mentally catalog how fast a rider moves across each camera and compare riders that way. Also note how stable a riders bike is through rough stuff and/or or how smoothly or stiffly their suspension is tuned. Their body english. If they seem smooth when landing jumps. if they are leaning back or forward down drops or particularly steep/rough sections. If they are standing while doing pedaling sprints or sitting. All are visual indications of how well/not well a rider is doing. For the Women in particular, how far forward they land after a jump, is often a great indicator of their speed. Suspension tune and overall tune/suitability of a bike can make a huge different on the course. And then of course, you have time comparisons to look at, with several check points on each course to give indications of progress or regress.

**I can be more specific about some of that stuff, if someone asks about it.

***There are now 3 styles of bike to listen for. 26 inch wheels. 27.5 inch wheels (also known as “650b”) and 29 inch wheels. Basically, larger wheels have more rotating mass, so the bike can potentially roll faster. Also, the wheel is physically larger in comparison to the same bumps with a 26 inch wheel. So, theoretically less affected by bumps. And 29ers have more rubber in contact with the ground. So, traction can be better. However, a 29er in particular, means a bigger bike. This can sometimes mean the bike is less nimble, especially on technical courses. and since they have more rotating mass, can be more work to pedal. The commentators don’t often mention when a rider is using 27.5. But they almost always mention 29ers. So, listen for it. And finally, some tall guys like 29ers as a rule, because the bikes fit them better. However, it all comes down to rider skill, bike tune, and the harmony between them. a 29er on a long fast course, does not automatically mean faster times compared to a 26er. and a 26er on a tight and technical course, does not necessarily mean better times.
29ers have only been used in pro downhill, for maybe 3 years. So, its a new thing. You don’t need to remember all of those details. But do understand that its new and the bikes are bigger, so its a different style of riding.

#2

I updated the post with lots of extra details as well as suggestions for how to search.

#3

hi toptube I’m going to pay attention to this and I’m going to post in this thread to get notifications for it

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#4

oh shit red bull has UCI cross events as well? omg

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#5

Updated with links for the finals at Leogang!

#6

I’m just now watching Leogang. This is a great course. Real fun to watch. A couple of long highspeed sections with jumps, a tunnel, ramps, etc. divided by some super chunky and rooty sections with hairpins. Also, right before the finish line is an extra large table top which actually takes some work to maneuver. Therefore gives us a good visual sense if the effort and speed a rider is giving just before the finish.

Myriam Nicole’s run is a great example of how a well tuned bike can get you through a course.

Rather Unfortunately, it isn’t until her run, that we see the complete course. Probably about 5 riders before her, they pretty much cut the chunky sections. * I mean the camera work.

Another cool aspect of this course is that it sorta flips thing around so that the harder stuff comes later in the course. Many courses open up in the last section, giving riders opportunities to push past time lost on mistakes. Not so much, at Leogang!

#7

Look at that goddamn valley behind Tahnee Seagrave as they interview her!

#8

Sometimes they do ground level chase cams on the heavy speed section and its dudes on dirt bikes.

#9

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#10

Michael Jones’ run is a good example for the Men, of what it looks like riding a well tuned bike.

#11

Val di Sole, Italy is live tomorrow!

#12

Haha, ok. If you google “redbull tv” you get a text menu in Google’s search results. Select “bike” and then you will see a link to the root menu for the UCI Mountain Biking circuit. Then you can select each stop on the circuit. From there it will auto start a video, but on the right side, you can select which event you want to see (men’s DH, Women’s DH, XC, etc). Videos with “EN” are in English.

#13

Val Di Sole is a really gnarly course! Tons of roots, tearouts, ruts, and step-downs. Definitely a taxing ride.

#14

Tahnee Seagrave @ Val Di Sole

#15

The U.S. hasn’t been competitive in Women’s pro XC (Cross Country) mountain biking-----for 20 years. But that has changed. 22 year old Kate Courtney won the 2018 world championship event. And she won the first short track and long track events for the 2019 World Cup season, in Albstadt, Germany.
Yesterday, 31 year old Chloe Woodruff won the second short track event, at Nové Mesto, Czech Republic. Wiith a giant 20 second lead. She said she was inspired by Kate, who also took 4th place in a super tight photo finish for 2nd/3rd/4th.

The long track event at Nové Mesto, is tomorrow. You don’t have to watch live. Check this link or the Red Bull app, if you are interested.

We don’t have any competitive women in Downhill. But don’t sleep on it. Women’s Downhill is amazing right now and keeps getting better and better. And we do have a few competitive men in Downhill.

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#16

And a reminder:

The World Championship event is a one-off event and winning that is a separate honor, from competing in and winning the season long, multi-event World Cup. Entry is more open, too. Any country can put riders up to compete in the World Championship and they don’t have to be on a functioning pro team in the world cup or otherwise. As such, a ‘no-name’ rider has a chance at winning. And that’s exactly what happened in Women’s Downhill, last year.

World Championship is also seemingly more prestigious, which is absolutely stupid. But that’s how it is.

When you win a World Championship, you then have the honor of wearing a sort of rainbow striping on your jerseys. I think for life. So, if you see a rider with striping like that, it means they have won a WC event sometime in the past.

Here’s an example:

But you gotta be careful, because some teams do designs which look like the world coup stripes, but aren’t:
walbstadtwc_dsc8672_670

#17

American Kate Courtney took 1st place in the long track event at Nové Mesto. She even got a flat tire and still fought back to 1st! She’s 8th woman to ever win both opening events of the world cup season.

Tomorrow is the Downhill event at Fort William. Its live on Red Bull TV at 4:30 AM PDT or you can watch it later in the Red Bull TV archives

#18

The Downhill event at Fort William was interesting. It rained a lot. Usually, that makes the racing pretty dumb, because they have to go slow and careful and awkward. And its also very dangerous.

However, Fort William is mostly hard-pack. So the course was still pretty viable. Only a couple of small mud pits. So, the racing was still fun to watch. However, it was still more dangerous and there were a lot of crashes. Including my fave, Tahnee Seagrave. She crashed really bad in the qualifiers (they don’t really show qualies anymore. so this was a news update), separating her shoulder. They seemed to think it wasn’t the worst degree of separation. But, she’ll probably miss at least two events.