Last weekend, the DH World Champs were held in Val di Sole, Italy. This race has no bearing on the World Cup Overall standing, yet a win here is the crown jewel on any riders resume. That’s why so many riders go for broke and in the process, forge incredible memories.
To pay honor to the most important race of the season, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite World Champ race runs below:
At the tender age of 19, Danny Hart won the coveted rainbow stripes in a race run that can only be described as incredible. In the midst of a torrential downpour, on a slick track, he managed to not only keep the rubber side down but threw down massive style.
Danny’s race run is easily one of the greatest in mountain bike history, but my personal favorite is Sam Hill’s heartbreaking loss at Val di Sole in 2008.
The Australian was on an absolute tear and a wash out near the end of the track robbed him of certain victory. Yet he somehow managed to pick himself and get across the finish line in enough time to claim the final step on the podium
Since we’re on the topic of heartbreak, few race finishes have hit me as hard as the 2014 World Championships in Hafjell. Josh Bryceland, AKA Ratboy, was on a scorcher of a run.
After years of forgettable results, everything had finally clicked for Steve Peat’s prodigy, and he was only a few feet away from winning world champs when disaster struck. He over cleared the final jump and destroyed his ankle, which forced him to coast across the line and into second place.
On a brighter note, this was also the race that saw Neko Mulally snap his chain out of the gate. Despite the mechanical, he didn’t give up. The young American kept pushing until the end and was rewarded with a 4th place finish.
This race run would probably be higher ranked on our list of greatest DH World Champ race runs ever, had Aaron Gwin not come along the next season and won a World Cup race under similar circumstances.
And of course, who could forget the race in Canberra when Steve Peat finally broke the curse and took home the golden hardware. It may not be the greatest race run of all time, but it is one of the most emotional.
Now, I’ve only been following the DH circuit for the past ten years, so I missed the Nicolas Vouilloz and Missy Giove era. But I know enough MTB history to include Shaun Palmer’s second place finish at Worlds in 1996. Fast forward to 4.52 to see Napalms race run.
So what did I miss? What is your favorite World Champs run of all time?