Racing Rumour season is simmering down, and now that most of the team changes have been announced, we can start speculating about who the next rising stars might be.
Full race seasons will be a thing again at some point, and then we'll have Pinkbike's Fantasy Leagues back, too. While my guess is as good as anyone else's when it comes to predicting the future, these are some of my top picks for riders who might impress us this year. Some of these riders already have top-level results to their names, while others are still looking for that breakout moment, but we believe that each of these riders is hitting their stride and will be on their way up in 2021.
Andreas Kolb has worked his way up the ladder over the last few years, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see his move to the Continental Atherton team bump him into the top 10. He finished the 2020 season with a career-best 14th place at the second Lousa World Cup.
Andreas has steadily picked up speed since his first Elite World Cup races back in 2016. He improved from a series of DNQs in 2016 and 2017 to the top half of the field in 2018, top 30s in 2019, and top 20s in 2020. Now, stepping up to a bigger team (after two years with Gamux Factory Racing), Andreas seems to be finding his stride.
Scottish Privateer Mikayla Parton raced her first downhill World Cup races in 2019, then jumped into 2020 with a 5th place at World Champs. Another couple of top 10s in Maribor showed us that her World Champs run wasn’t a fluke. Unfortunately, a crash in Lousa resulted in a concussion that took her out of the weekend, but she is back on the bike and will be looking to keep moving up the ranks in 2021.
Loris Revelli is another one who will be looking to sneak into the top 10 in 2021. The Italian racer placed 11th at the two 2020 Lousa World Cups, roughly a tenth of a second outside of the top 10 in both races. Revelli just needs to pick up a fraction of a fraction of a percentage in speed to become one of downhill’s top riders.
Although Revelli represented Canyon last year as part of Blackjack Factory Racing, 2021 will be his first season listed as part of the Canyon Collective on the UCI roster alongside Troy Brosnan and a collection of other quick riders.
Phoebe Gale is the newest addition to the Canyon Collective FMD alongside Tahnee Seagrave. The 16-year-old Scottish racer is absurdly stylish and has found racing success in the UK. Now, with the opportunity to compete at the world level, it be will exciting to see what she can accomplish, especially with mentorship from Tahnee and the other FMD racers.
Louis Jeandel had a successful EWS stint in the U21s, with a win at Ainsa-Sobrarbe in 2018. He graduated to the Elites in 2019 and seems to have found his pace in 2020 with a 9th place in Zermatt and a 10th in Pietra Ligure.
The young privateer formed the Norco-Ion team with his friend Guillaume Larbeyou (another top-20 one to watch) and won a Wyn TV Privateer of the Week award. We hope to see Louis Jeandel on a factory ride soon.
It’s not often that someone makes it onto the podium in their first season of Elite EWS racing, but that’s exactly what Ella Conolly did. Conolly dominated in the U21s in 2018, then moved up to the Elites and placed 3rd in Madeira and 6th in Val di Fassa in 2019 before an injury took her out for the rest of the season. In 2020, she placed 3rd in Zermatt before having to quarantine and missing the rest of the EWS season.
Ella Conolly has already accomplished more than many pro riders do in their entire careers, and she still hasn’t had a full season to show us what she can really do.
Charles Murray is a double threat, competing mainly in enduro but able to hold his own in downhill, too. The Pivot privateer finished the 2020 EWS season with a 6th place in Finale Ligure, beating out Martin Maes, Greg Callaghan, and plenty of other more established EWS racers.
After his impressive EWS results, he joined the Pivot team in Maribor for the World Cup double header and came away with a 44th and a 48th result, not bad for his first World Cup DH results ever.
The young Commencal rider has excelled in the U21 and Juniors fields in both enduro and downhill, and with mentorship from the Ravanels, has the potential to become one of the top EWS racers in the next couple of years. He placed 18th in Finale Ligure this year in the only Elite EWS race he's done so far, performing better than many racers do after years of competing professionally.
Antoine Vidal young enough that he could still race in the U21 category for another year, but the Commencal team asked EWS to let him move up early, and EWS agreed. He's just that good.
Laura Charles is another EWS up-and-comer, without a single EWS result outside of the top 20 since she switched over from U23 XC racing. She will be joining the Orbea Enduro Team for 2021 alongside Damien Oton and Vid Persak.
A 10th place in La Thuile in 2018, in her second-ever EWS race, proved that Laura Charles has what it takes to put down clean, fast enduro times. Her worst EWS result is a 17th, which is still pretty damn good. We are excited to see what she can do with the new team.
Rounding out the list is Trek's new signing, Harriet Harnden. Harriet found success in the EWS U21s this season, then raced two XC World Cup rounds and World Champs, taking a U23 4th place in Nove Mesto and a 19-22 9th in Leogang. She has also been racing cyclocross this winter, showing that she's at least a triple threat.
She may be a bit of a wildcard, but she seems as tough as they come and shown consistency in her race results, so we can imagine that no matter which discipline she races, she will be one to watch this season.