Macdonald, Hart and the other young dudes

UCI MTB World Cup commentator Richard Cunynghame speaks to Val D’Isère’s debut downhill winner.

MTB Downhill star Brook McDonald on top of Mount Burke, New Zealand
Brook McDonald on top in New Zealand © Miles Holden

With the current World Champion being the ripe old age of 20, it’s not as if the sport is lacking in youth. Unfortunately this race was lacking that World Champion – Danny Hart is out after dislocating his shoulder at Crankworx Europe. “I had surgery on it a week and a half ago and I’m in physio now, we’re not sure on timeframes,” he says.

Danny’s first win at world level came at the biggest race, the 2011 World Championships in Champéry, Switzerland:

"I’d been on the cusp of it for a while, I knew if I put on a good run it would be possible," he adds.

Obviously Brook’s had a bit of bad luck this year with crashes

Since then Danny has come close to another win at this level, with a 2nd, 3rd and a 4th this season, but it has so far alluded him. “It’s been hard to repeat that win, I’ve got close a couple of times, it’s just that little bit extra that you need.” Talking about another couple of young riders, Josh Bryceland (22) and Brook MacDonald (21), that are of a similar age and and in a similar position, Danny says, “All us young ones have been doing well for the past two years so it’s all there or thereabouts. Obviously Brook’s had a bit of bad luck this year with crashes, but now he’s proved on his day he can do it. It’s just all about putting it together.”

Danny Hart racing in Pietermaritzburg
Danny Hart racing at Pietermaritzburg in 2012

That’s exactly what Brook did at the sixth round of the series. With a previous best result of third, Brook put it together to take the win at the Val d'Isère World Cup.

"From the start of the season I didn’t expect to win, all season I was expecting a top 10, pushing for a top five. My goals were for a top five. I walked the track and thought it was pretty average and then I rode it and I got into it and enjoyed it the whole weekend. Every time I come down to the bottom, I had a smile on my face, I think that helped big time."

Danny’s come along from being junior and he’s just gone straight to the top

Coming in only 0.6secs back on Brook was his good mate Josh Bryceland, “I was really close, I messed up the last corner and felt like I could have almost had it. It’s a cool feeling, knowing I’ve got the speed. I was so happy for Brook, I didn’t quite realise at first, I knew I’d gone into third then I realised Brook was in the hot-seat and I was so happy for him. He’s had a hard year, he’s had some big crashes and we’ve always known he’s got the speed. Danny’s come along from being junior and he’s just gone straight to the top and been really consistent. Me and Brook have found it a bit harder to get that consistency going, so it’s nice to see him do a result he’s capable of.”

Josh Bryceland
Bryce as nice© Sven Martin 2012

Brook knows it’s a significant moment: “This is a big step for me, winning a World Cup. My life is pretty much racing as I haven’t been home this year, I think it will be five months I will have been away in September. I’m amped going to the World Champs now, to have a win four weeks before the World Champs is pretty cool and boosts my confidence.”

With the 2009 World Champion Steve Peat still clocking up fast times at the age of 38, we could see a lot more results like this from Danny, Josh and Brook over the next 18 years or so and quite possibly at that World Championships in Leogang, Austria on September 2.