From the brand spanking new event in Lenzerheide, Swtizerland, the Downhill World Cup has travelled to much more familiar surroundings. This weekend the best mountain bikers in the world will tackle the best track in the world – for the 25th time. Downhill doesn’t get much better!
There’s too much to mention here. Mont Sainte Anne is hosting a World Cup or World Championship for the 25th consecutive year making it the most visited course in Downhill World Cup history.
Last year, Manon Carpenter took the top spot on her way to winning the overall title, while Aussie Sam Hill won the men’s race to equal Steve Peat’s record of four victories on the track.
There’s a reason the tour keeps coming back to Canada – the riders love the MSA track. However, there are a few changes in 2015 including the removal of the iconic hip jump under the gondola. The designers have replaced it with arguably the biggest cliff drop ever seen at a World Cup, which is sure to start writing its own legacy of destruction this weekend.
What hasn’t changed much in Mont Sainte Anne are the long, technical and famously dark wood sections that have left many a rider battered and bruised over the past two decades.
South African rider Greg Minnaar won here in 2008 and has finished second on six occasions. He says he wasn’t expecting to win in Switzerland at the last stop because the new track didn’t suit him - imagine what he can do on a MSA course he has raced 17 times. Sam Hill returned from injury in Switzerland but has said MSA will be his first serious race of the season while Stevie Smith is also looking complete his recovery from injury with a podium spot in his homeland.
World Cup leader Rachel Atherton couldn’t be in better form. She finished second in round one but has since won all three World Cup races and been crowned British Champion. She is definitely the favourite, but Myriam Nicole is back from injury and bounced back with a victory in the downhill at Crankworx L2A recently. Manon Carpenter will be looking to repeat her fantastic performance in Canada last season.
The race for the overall title is heating up in the men’s event with just three races to go. Aaron Gwin, Greg Minnaar and Loic Bruni are all still in with a chance and a win for either of them could give them the momentum they need going into the crucial closing stages of the season.
It’s hard to look past Rachel Atherton for the win in the women’s race but, with everyone’s favourite track in prime condition, in Mont Sainte Anne every rider on course will be wanting to add their name to the history books.