2019 Pinkbike Awards: Athlete of the Year Winner

Dec 23, 2019
by James Smurthwaite  
2019 Pinkbike Awards

What a year of racing we've had in 2019. As the riding and coverage continue to improve, the events just become more compulsive viewing each year. The only downside is that we spend so much time watching racing, it starts to eat into our riding time!

This year was the first time we've had more than one XC athlete nominated as both Kate Courtney and Mathieu Van Der Poel got nods. We've not changed our criteria, but XC has continued to grow as a discipline - courses are no longer velodromes where you have to steer around the rocks, but real trails with brutal climbs and technical descents. If you want proof, just watch Levy's recent Humbled video with Nino Schurter to see the level these riders are at.

That's not to say we've forgotten about the gravity side of things either. Courdurier delivered a perfect run of 8 victories in a championship-winning season that she's been threatening for so long, while Loic Bruni emerged victorious from a titanic duel with his countryman and friend Amaury Pierron to claim his maiden World Cup overall win and becoming the first man to do the double since Sam Hill in 2007.

So four very worthy contenders, but who triumphed and claimed the top prize?


Loïc Bruni

It would have been all too easy to fall at the last hurdle, but Bruni held it all together and emerged as champion.

It's said that championships are won on your worst days, not your best. When Loic was in his groove this year he was simply untouchable - take a look at Vallnord where he found 3 seconds on the entire field in the first sector alone despite most people writing it off as a place where practically no time could be gained. Contrast that with his final race run of the season, far from his usual smooth and clinical self, this was scrappy, off line and wild.

It was the run of a man who was feeling the mental and physical toll on his body after a season of intense scrutiny. Crucially though, it was fast. It would have been all too easy to fall at the last hurdle, but Bruni held it all together and emerged as champion. Loic's struggle to the title made the World Cups compulsive viewing this year and the final in Snowshoe will probably go down as one of the greatest in history.

Bruni has come of age this year and found the consistency that has been missing from his arsenal since he moved up to elites. He is the first man to win the double since Sam Hill in 2007 and only the second man ever to win 4 World Championship titles. At 25 years of age, there's still plenty more to come.


  • 82 15
 I finally agree with a Pinkbike award.
  • 43 14
 You didn't agree with Jenny Rissved getting Comeback of the year?
  • 30 3
 @bongpill: I just scrolled the feed and saw that. Well deserved.
  • 22 2
 @bongpill: so much venom in this little question.
  • 5 1
 @bongpill: I honestly found myself thinking “Who?” when reading your comment, but after reading the very tiny review of her complex comeback, indeed, that is very worthy of recognition. Strong work, PB, on the athlete selections this year.
  • 49 4
 Thanks to Danny.
  • 42 0
 That's what happens when you stay on your bike
  • 15 1
 Nah. Danny may have helped with the final race points, but Loic worked hard on his physical and psychological to deliver all season long, for his best season ever. Loic earned this. Good call Pink Bike.
  • 1 0
 @sjma: Okay, that was funny.
  • 24 0
 Amaury's reaction says it all. What a season to watch!
  • 15 1
 a little bit it is Danny Harts award too
  • 8 0
 The downtime podcast with him was so interesting to listen to, hearing what happens in his mind at races and how he deals with the pressure. And fully deserved this award, fucking fantastic season and making it absolutely amazing to watch as it unfolded.
  • 4 0
 Glad you enjoyed it @Upduro Loic was so open and honest, he was a pleasure to interview.
  • 1 0
 @downtimepodcast: I agree with Upduro, that interview was definitely my favorite downtime episode. Hope you'll be able to interview him again some other time.
  • 1 0
 @lassemj: thanks mate, yeah I'd love to get him back on again in 2020!
  • 9 0
 Loving Laurie in the background.
  • 4 0
 Minaar in the background is the only person not reacting.
  • 2 0
 @Rigidjunkie: He's too cool for school. Bumped into him watching the xc finishes and it was like runnin into a guy you had a class with in middle school as a bar at thanksgiving.
  • 6 0
 @bulletbassman: Lol, my fiance and a good chunk of my friends went to school with him. So we occasionally do bump into him and it's exactly like that. They're all like "Oh hey it's Greg. Hey Greg, how's it going?" and I'm like "(OK now just be cool, be cool...) I FRIKKEN LOVE YOU GREG!!!"
  • 5 0
 All worthy riders but Van der Poel wins pro road, World Cup xc and absolutely crushes cyclocross.
  • 2 0
 All great athletes and I was hoping Loic would beat Amery but if I had to pick an Athlete of the Year is would be Isabeau Courdurier. There were a lot of close races in DH and EWS this year but not the Womens EWS, she absolutely dominated from start to end.
  • 4 0
 That’s probably why she didn’t win. Before this year it was Ravanel who dominated everything. And before that Moseley. For me that indicates that the field is just very narrow. The women’s XC on the other hand is a lot more competitive.
  • 1 0
 As a long time bruni fam, this year has just been crazy, constantly scared he'd throw a winning run away in the last corners like so many in the past! Though this year he's just been on rails! So deserving in my very biased opinion!
  • 4 0
 I was very disappointed to see that my name is not on this list.
  • 6 2
 Randy was robbed!
  • 2 0
 Fastest man in DH. I hope he shoots for Vouilloz' World Champs gold record.
  • 3 0
 He has a two headed i in his name?
  • 3 0
 ...and that’s why he’s so fast.
  • 8 0
 Oui, and his name is Luke Brown in American.
  • 8 0
 @endlessblockades: So, we’ve been calling him “Super Brown” all this time?
  • 1 0
 All the nominations are worthy. Tough choice. It would be cool to make it into a reader poll, but on PB all the winners would be DH and EWS riders. Smile
  • 4 1
 As it should be.
  • 4 1
 For me it’s still MvdP!
  • 2 0
 Shhhhhh! Don’t tell anyone who Loic rides for. That brand tends to get people going.
  • 2 0
 Suspension doping, won!
  • 2 0
 Pinkbike got it right!!! Congrats to Loic! Very well deserved!
  • 1 0
 Tough choice, bit well deserved. He finally put it all together in what was an insanely competitive season.
  • 1 2
 So will technology advancements be allowed to continue to affect the results?
If it was not for computer software,Amaury Pierron would have won DH World cup overall!
Is that fair?
  • 2 0
 Super Bruni ♡
  • 1 0
 First paragraph refers to Claudio alone right?
  • 6 5
 If it ain't Jordie it's a fail.
  • 4 3
 Umm nobody was more dominant than Isabeau Courdurier.
  • 3 0
 Truth. She made me believe my 170 centimeters belonged on a 29er.
  • 1 0
 Yeah, she crushed it, and yet no mention. No mention of Sam Hill. Pretty rocky start to the EWS season, and then turned on the consistency to remain in the hunt and closed it out in that close finish against Flo in Zermatt. Bruni was pretty unstoppable all year though, this is a tough category.
  • 3 0
 Uhhhhhh...there were other nominations.
  • 1 0
 Minaar looks like his pick came in.
  • 1 0
 I feel like this award can take his full value next year!
  • 1 0
 Well deserved he was on absolute fire this year
  • 1 0
 Look at all the emotion in that picture. Simply amazing. Congrats Loic!
  • 4 3
 Pope of Downhill!
  • 2 0
 this made me laugh
  • 2 1
 This was much deserved
  • 1 0
 Legendary season!
  • 1 0
 What a man.
  • 2 4
 Seems crazy not to have it be Rude after his dominant return
  • 10 0
 Yes, was just thinking the same. Why they wouldn't give athlete of the year to a guy coming off a doping suspension is absolutely beyond me. Someone must have spiked their bottle while they were deciding on these...
  • 1 0
 @JohnnyVV: need to tag that with an /s.
  • 1 0
 Yes, so cool to see him dominant after a suspension due to doping suspiction...
  • 3 5
 Tracey worked her backside off
  • 4 4
 Twerking is a sport too!
  • 1 0
 No doubt but she also didn't win champs
  • 1 2
 Pfffffffffff! Yawnnnn
  • 1 4
 I love kate courtney
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