What we learned: 2013 UCI World Cup DH

A Canadian Chainsaw ambush, British domination and a changing of the guard.
Stevie Smith and Rachel Atherton © Red Bull Content Pool
By Ric McLaughlin

What a season. It's unbelievable to think that despite the millions of small, large and huge track permeations and potential pitfalls we still had a Men's overall title fight which came down to the final run. 

So what did we learn in 2013?

01 Stevie is the man

At the mid-way point of the season, Gee Atherton was cruising. Both domestically and internationally he was brutalising races. The much vaulted challenge set to me mounted by Aaron Gwin aboard a Specialized never materialised. Steve Smith's win in Leogang on Sunday clinched him the overall but almost more impressively it was his third World Cup win on the bounce. Finally, a talented young rider has taken the next step and become not only a title contender but a title winner.

02 Vintage Rach

She mightn't have had the partner on the final podium that she wanted but Rachel Atherton had a World Champs jersey and a new overall leader's bib to keep her comfortable.

She was imperious all season and were as Gee fell out of the winning groove, Rach kept the wagon rolling. 2013 will be hard to better for her.

03 Big wheels didn't quite roll

All the talk at the start of the season seemed to focus on 2013 being the year which would see the first ever major wheel size shake up in DH racing history. It wasn't. Granted, Stevie Smith brought a 650B machine home fastest at the World Champs timed training ahead of Mitch Ropelato on a 29er but ultimately they both crashed come race day. Would the rumble have been louder if it had been a World Cup qualifying session? Potentially but the PMZ track scewed the issue slightly. Then again, Blenkinsop and Bruni have been quietly clocking results all season on their 650B's...

04 The pack was shuffled

The overall was between Gee and Stevie but podium apperances by Minnaar, Bryceland, Neethling, Hart, Hannah, Bruni, Hill, Simmonds and Blenkinsop proved that times at the top are tighter than ever.

05 Young guns

The 'new' Junior category worked a treat. No more scanning results sheets for little diamonds, the separate category has provided both entertaining racing and a clear indication as to who the stars of the future are set to be. The two who impressed the most just happened to be on the same team - Tahnee Seagrave and Mike Jones.

 

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