Dark Horses: Alternative World Champs contenders

Our tips for riders who're worth a punt to upset the rainbow-striped applecart come Sunday.
Marcelo Gutierrez © Red Bull Content Pool
By Ric McLaughlin

The World Champs is a bit of an oddity when it comes to world sport. It's a race weekend which boils down to just one run which could see any of the top pros crowned World Champion. Some love this idea, some hate it and some might just be the hero come Sunday evening. Here are our dark horses who might just stake a claim...

01 Danny Hart, Giant Off Road Factory Team

The Redcar Rocket secured legendary status with a win at a rain-soaked Champery World Champs back in 2011. He won the stripes before taking his maiden World Cup victory and is still waiting for that accomplishment. The last couple of seasons have seen a relative dip in form and niggly injuries. Two times Champion of the World has a ring to it though...

02 Josh Bryceland, Santa Cruz Syndicate

Ratboy has cut a rejuvenated figure this season and on his day, is terrifyingly quick. Like Hart, he's without a World Cup win but, well, we don't know how to sum it up - he's just Josh and therefore he has a chance.

03 Brook MacDonald, Trek World Racing

If it wasn't for a wrecked shoulder, the Kiwi would have been right up there with our top predictions. He's been racing on it which may or may not turn out to have been a good decision. Brook has the speed, so if that complex grouping of bone and tissue stays in place he might just get the job done.

04 Marcelo Gutierrez, Giant Off Road Factory Team   

Still criminally underrated, the fastest South American DH racer ever is currently ranked 8th in the world ahead of both Hart and Neethling, his teammates on Giant. He had a stellar pre-season and has been Mr Consistency thus far. Marcelo is definitely hitting form at the right time...

05 Mick Hannah, Hutchinson United Ride 

Sick Mick seemed to be every man and his dogs nailed down title favourite back in Canberra 2009 but we all know who took the win that year... Sixth in the world at the moment, Hannah is a born pedaler and one of the strongest riders out there. He's in the old physical mould of a Fabien Barel and someone with the sheer grunt to out-power the Pietermaritzburg track.

06 Loic Bruni, Lapierre Gravity Republic

This was originally intended to be a 'top 5' but... We can't shake the feeling that Bruni has the potential to do something incredible at Pietermaritzburg. Remi Thirion may have been the first Frenchman to take to the top step in an age back at Vallnord but having spent his youth riding with Vouilloz and Barel, young Bruni just may have a bit of something about him...

Watch the 2013 UCI MTB DH World Championships, on September 1, LIVE, on Red Bull Bike.

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