5 Things We Learned From the Maribor World Cup Double Header

Oct 20, 2020
by James Smurthwaite  
Double Headers Should Stay but Tweaks are Needed

The double header weekend in Maribor was a great pilot and kudos should go to the UCI for pulling it together in a short space of time under difficult circumstances. The contrasting conditions gave us two fascinating races and the tape changes were smart enough to vary up the racing between the broadcasts. It makes sense for the fans, the TV and the teams to pack in more racing to a season and we hope it's something that continues in the future.

As with anything like this though, there were some teething issues. Most notably number plates weren't changed between races, which meant the series leaders weren't given the opportunity to strap their well-earned number 1s to their bikes. The prize money was also split between the two races. Racers don't earn their keep from prize money but they should be rewarded for winning a World Cup in a double-header just the same as any other.
She s been knocking on the door of it for a while but today was the day that Nina Hoffmann took her first victory.

Thibaut Daprela Makes the Best Start Ever for a Graduating Junior

Thibaut Daprela burst into the elite ranks with aplomb in Maribor. As the latest of Nico Vouilloz's Nice-based prodigies, he made short work of the field in his time as a junior and has now carried over that pace to the elites.

With a third-placed finish on Friday, he produced the best-ever result from a junior rider graduating up to elites for their first race since the inception of the junior category in 2013. It's also the joint best result of a first-year elite in that time too, tied with Loris Vergier who also got a third in Windham in 2015. However, it took Vergier six races to reach that level whereas Daprela did it on his elite debut.
No podium heroics this time around for Thibaut Daprela but a top 10 is still a super strong result for the first year elite.

Daprela proved his 11th place at World Champs the week before was no fluke and he backed it up with a second-place qualifier and another top ten for the second race on Sunday. He now sits third in the overall rankings and will be hoping for more of the same in Lousa.

The Commencal Supreme is the Bike to Beat in Wet Conditions

The Supreme has been one of the most decorated bikes in the history of downhill (you can read a history of its success here) and that lineage is still being carried on today. After winning half of the available medals at the downhill World Championships through Balanche, Nicole, Hrastnik, Thirion, Chappaz and Slack, the Supreme continued to collect podiums in Maribor. There weren't any wins this time but the bike achieved success across all the categories including trips to the podiums for Ella Erickson, Myriam Nicole, Monika Hrastnik, Dan Slack, Remi Thirion and Thibaut Daprela on Friday's wet race.
Mistakes cost Myriam Nicole in a field of top-flight female racers deeper than we ve seen in many years. 4th place for the ex-series leader but at least the plate can turn back to single digits heading to Portugal.

The V10 came back strong in race 2 with both Hoffmann and Vergier piloting it to victory and there were also strong results for Greg Minnaar and Luca Shaw as the Syndicate won the best team award. Of course, the bike is just one part of the puzzle but it's clear that the riders on the Supremes were flying in the stickest of conditions.

Brook MacDonald's Awesome Recovery Continues and Remi Thirion is Back

Brook MacDonald's astonishing recovery continued in Maribor as he continues to re-find his feet at World Cup speeds. Brook's 63rd place finish in Leogang was a triumph in itself but in Maribor, he recorded a 39th place in race 1 despite a crash on the long right-hander then went even better with a 23rd place finish in race 2. Brook has shown incredible force of will to get himself back to his point and we can only see him continuing to improve as his recovery goes on.
23rd was icing on the cake for Brook MacDonald s comeback after a week of extremely rough conditions and struggle with mindset between the tape.

It was also great to see Remi Thirion back at the sharp end of things. Thirion broke his back at Leogang on a jump that was later reshaped as it was deemed unsafe. He returned to racing at the start of 2018 and has been slowly building form ever since. He's a wet weather master and his second place on Friday was his second-best ever result in World Cups. It also backed up his bronze medal picked up in similar conditions in Leogang. It's great to see this incredibly skilled rider back near the top after a horrific injury.

Bike Noises in the Live Feed Sounded Great

Crowds are a huge part of World Cup racing and it hasn't been quite the same without them. The finish area celebrations have been muted without the roaring crowds and the tracks seem eerily silent as the riders careen through them in search of the fastest time.

The one benefit we do get from the lack of a crowd is that the microphones are able to pick up the sounds of the bikes. We certainly wouldn't trade in the crowd noises but hearing the patter-patter-patter of a perfectly set up downhill bike as it glides over a bed of roots is an unexpected but nice change. We're not sure if Red Bull has increased its sound quality on the broadcast or there was just a lot less ambient noise but it's something we'd love to hear more of in the future.
Leona Pierrini looks to be the class of the junior women field so at the moment.

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jamessmurthwaite avatar

Member since Nov 14, 2018
1,770 articles

  • 98 2
 Sam Hill's CV from his first year in Elite:

2nd Place, Overall UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2004, Downhill
3rd Place: Fort William UCI World Cup DH
4th Place: Les 2 Alpes, France UCI World Cup DH
3rd Place: Schladming UCI World Cup DH
2nd Place: Mont Saint Anne UCI World Cup DH
3rd Place: Livigno, Italy UCI World Cup DH
  • 11 23
flag zanda23 (Oct 20, 2020 at 15:39) (Below Threshold)
 According to roots and rain Sam started in elite in 2001 and got 47th. It wasnt until 2002 that he got a top 10 and 2003 until he got a top 5.

  • 25 2
 Junior at world cup events is under 19. Sam was born in 1985. In 2001 he would have been 16, not old enough to be in the elite category at world cups.
  • 47 1
 The junior category didn't exist back then (except at world champs), so juniors had to race with the elites at world cups. So the fact that Sam got an elite podium in 2003 is all the more impressive, as he was still only 18! Fun fact - at world champs that year (where they did have a junior categor) he won by 11 seconds, with a time that would've been 4th in Elite men... all with a crash included.

Before the specific junior category existed, other guys to get an elite World Cup podium at a junior age include Brendan Fairclough (2005 aged 18 ), Troy Brosnan (2011 aged 18 ) and Loic Bruni (2012 aged 18 ). I'm sure there'd be a couple more like Nico...

Since 2013 juniors have had their own category at world cups. Of course, we can still compare their times with the elite men but it's not quite the same, track conditions are more likely to change between the races etc...
  • 1 1
 @boydasilva: they allowed riders under 18 Back then.
  • 3 3
 Sam was back when it was men not a boys class to start off
  • 5 0
 At the 1994 world championships in Vail, Vouilloz was debating whether to race in junior or elite. In the end he picked junior and won the race with a time just 1/100th of a second slower than Francois Gachet who won elite.
  • 4 0
 Gee won his first World Cup in his first elite year - 2004.
  • 16 0
 Don't mention Sam Hill like that. It makes me all nostalgic and shit..
  • 4 0
 @jaame: Makes me feel old to say I worked as a course marshal at that race!
  • 3 0
 @thedirtyburritto: That's awesome! I was a young lad at the time and would have swapped the family hoilday to Majorca to be a marshal at that race fo sho!
  • 55 0
 Best things you can hear on the mics is Tracey Hannah screaming whenever she gets sketchy and Loris Vergier breathing heavily the whole way down showing how much he focuses on his breathing while riding. I absolutely loved the double header, even got friends who never watched world cup wake up at 745am to watch!
  • 47 0
 7:45am what no sleepin? How did you go for the rest of the day with a early start for the day.
  • 9 0
 Try 3am to make coffee, lot's of coffee and watch the race!
  • 7 0
 @T-Bot: Ahaha, I know, a majority of people are awake to work at that time. My life usually starts around 10:00am. But not everyone wakes up at 7am on weekends, do they?

I totally realize now by re-reading what I said how silly that makes me sound LOL.
  • 3 0
 @Bomadics: ROUGH, I saw you're from the west coast, so you had 3 hours on me! I would have preferred that, since I usually stay up until that time ahaha.
  • 5 0
 @Ryan2949: As a west coaster I got up at a leisurely 10am and stuck on the replay with morning coffee and breakie. I was off on the Friday too so did it then as well. Just got to stay off the socials until the event is watched.
  • 22 0
 @Ryan2949: Ha... kids = I'm up at 6:30 to 7am every day... every single day for the last 9.75 years. Sunday mornings I actually get up even earlier, around 5:45 to 6am to get out of the house before anyone wakes up for my solo dawn patrol rides.

I actually really like getting up early now... so much time for activities! Also nothing like getting to the top of the mountain in time for a sunrise with no one around. Plus kids have forced a routine on me... can't even sleep in anymore... I just wake up. And this is someone who use to be able to sleep to 4pm just because I wanted to.
  • 1 0
 @islandforlife: woah that would be sleeping in for me. Must be nice
  • 1 0
 @islandforlife: I'll be there soon, my wife and I are planning our first kid soon, I'm sure I'll have to learn to like mornings then!

I actually enjoy being up early, but I struggle with it, I can do it like once a week if I need to. If I were to go to bed at 3am and wake up at 10am, I feel fine. If I go to bed at 12am and wake up at 7am I feel like complete crap, even though i got the same amount of sleep.
  • 4 0
 @makripper: as an elite specimen, I don't even sleep. Must be nice.
  • 10 0
 @Ryan2949: You can do it! Sticking with a consistent routine can start to make a really big difference, just not the first morning or maybe even the first week. I've never been a morning person but at a certain point with my kids I realized that there was a time window in the family schedule to ride almost any morning in the summer... if I could be awake and out the door by 5:30 to 6. Then I could be back in time to help as the day really started for everyone else. Where there is a will there is a way! After a little while of getting up at that same time whether I was riding or not, my body adjusted and I often woke right before my alarm. YMMV.

*Warning: do not attempt during early baby months without your wife's permission. And if she says yes, be very careful about how much she means that yes!
  • 3 0
 Here in Norway we have a word for people who like to sleep in, it's "syvsover", which basically translates to seven-sleeper, someone who sleeps until seven.

When not working from home, I get up at 5:30, am out the doors at 6 tor ride through the woods to be at work at 7. Brilliant start on the day Big Grin
  • 2 0
 @Ryan2949: You'll learn it the hard way. Trust me!
  • 5 0
 @bonfire: No sleep? Christ! You kids today have it so easy! I get up 3 hours before I go to bed, which is incidentally made up of upturned nails...
  • 1 0
 @islandforlife: sucks. My kid has always been a sleeper. She'll stay in bed till 0830 some mornings, especially now with the dark mornings I envy her though since she goes to bed at 2000. I have a hard time sleeping after 0700, but I do get up at 0530 for work.
She is super independent too, so if she wakes up at 0700 on the weekend, she'll go downstairs, fix a snack and start coloring, other than hearing her door open she doesn't disturb us.
@ryan2949 your results may vary. I have friends who's kids are up at 0530 every morning.
  • 1 0
 @Bomadics: It's certainly better now than the old freecaster days where there was no replay whenever you decide to wake up. If you wanted to watch, you damn sure better have that cup of coffee already done up and no interruptions. I do get all nostalgic for a sloppy drunk Rob Warner yelling in the booth though.
  • 1 0
 @nlitworld: I actually enjoy getting up to watch it live, like most people above commenting here, I get up early every day. 4:30 to 5am for 25 years. I worked at a deli baking and cooking for the lunch crown back in the 90's so I woke up every day at 4:00am. Now I don't even need to use an alarm clock anymore and I work for myself at home, so there is no reason to be up early, just habit!
  • 47 4
 I imagine that double headers are better for sustainability and carbon footprint. Prob good for the local economy as well. Racers should not have to split prizes though. Optional cash prizes for long jumps too please! Indy and team awards!
  • 12 0
 I wonder if the fees that the venues pay UCI for the privilege of hosting the event were reduced for he double headers. This and no income from spectator tickets might have impacted the prize values.
  • 6 0
 @Slabrung: Good point; forgot about ticket fees.
  • 9 0
 Yeah double header is a win-win. But they need to tweak it to allow a rest day in the middle at least. Or even go to back to back weekend races at the same venue, as e.g. Formula 1 does this year.
  • 4 0
 They saved even more money by halving the prize fund between the races but charging full price entry fees to both races
  • 2 0
 @Slabrung: At Maribor they sold spectator tickets, limited to 500 pieces / day. The price was quite hefty, 100 EUR / day
  • 2 0
 @FredrikWestman: Agreed, there’s a few venues in the alps where they could race back to back weekends on two totally different tracks, stay in the same place and even keep the same pit.
  • 1 0
 @dizIzib: thanks for the info! Do you know how that compares to a usual turnaround?
  • 40 3
 I’m probably in the minority, but I’d trade crowd noises for bike sounds in a flash!

Especially dislike the chainsaws and vuvuzelas.
  • 10 15
flag jomacba (Oct 21, 2020 at 0:27) (Below Threshold)
 Don't be hating on the chainsaws!!
  • 26 3
 Can't upvote this enough. The chainsaws are the worst addition to crowd support since.....the vuvuzelas.....can't stand the live feed sounds of usual WC DH!
  • 14 1
 Chainsaws are very annoying. Especially when you are physically there. My younger son was so much afraid of them last year at Maribor, that our main aim on raceday was to avoid them...
  • 6 2
 @schmidty28: The worst addition is rims and handlebars. so bloody annoying
  • 16 0
 On top of the annoying noise I find really stupid to burn fuel only to make noise
  • 5 5
 @mickymike2000: It is terribly American isnt it?
  • 6 0
 Glad somebody said it. Thank you @Milko3D
  • 29 1
 Doubleheaders are an easy yes. Spread them out over two weeks. Give us more races.
  • 25 2
 "The prize money was also split between the two races."

That's just f*cking greedy on behalf of the race sponsors. There was pretty much the same amount of coverage as two separate races, maybe a tiny bit less because there were less interviews, but that is because of the pandemic, but not because of the double-header.
  • 20 0
 just6979: "there were less [fewer] interviews"
WynTV: "Hold my beer!"
  • 9 0
 Ticket sales
  • 7 0
 I think organising events it's pretty hard at the moment, it's a challenge but so reducing price money is one way to reduce costs.not a nice one, but probably inevitable
  • 2 0
 @DHhack: How about the reduced cost of not having to serve all those people who bought ticket? Plus, the UCI's ticket sales profit cut is not half the prize pool.
  • 1 0
 @vhdh666: Not by half though
  • 5 0
 @just6979: the event organizer has to pay the UCI a hosting fee (about $38,578 at the moment), reserve 40% of the advertising space for UCI sponsors, cover the expenses for preparing the venue and the event setup, possibly cover the expenses for camera setup (I didn't find confirmation on that) and then also provide the prize money.

Without being able to charge parking, admission, food, beer, etc it sounds tough for the organizers to even be able to cover the costs based just on the 60% of their advertising space they can use
  • 1 0
 @just6979: food, liquor and hotel rooms too. Those are just excuses though. Racers should get paid. Hopefully their sponsors stepped up.
  • 1 0
 @showmethemountains: Where did you find confirmation for the things you did find out?
  • 2 0
 @just6979: the UCI posts a lot of their stuff online. This page has documents for the financial info

The mountain bike documents there cover the rider fees, team fees, hosting fees, prize money amounts, etc. It doesn't directly spell out in that document who funds the purse, but I think that is specified somewhere else.

For 2021, it looks like the UCI has now added a $4151 "candidate fee" for race organizers, separate from the event fee. My guess is that they added this so that if events are cancelled due to covid, the UCI still gets to keep the candidate fee.

For 2021 they have also specified that it costs $5931 more to host a double-header than a single event. Until now there hasn't been anything specified for that. I wonder if the organizers this year are getting away with the single event fee or being charged double the regular fee?
  • 2 0
 @showmethemountains: jeez, that makes the UCI sound like a bunch of parasite bureaucrats following the IOC playbook, shocker!
  • 24 0
 yes, turn up the course mics...i like ambient sounds of the bike, suspension, tires and the riders themselves
  • 10 0
 Loved hearing Vergier working hard. Good to know even the pros puff like a steam train.
  • 12 0
 @powermutant: Agreed, they make it looks so easy sometimes it's easy to forget these are elite athletes who put the work in. Except for Gee of course who calmly points out phallic logs while at speeds that would cause my hair to grow back in just so it could turn white.
  • 22 0
 Was it the bike, or was it the tyre choice on the bike? There seemed to be some discussion from Warner and Claudio that the fastest of the fastest were on mud spikes.
  • 22 0
 We're digging into just that!
  • 12 0
 Maybe also the fact that most commencal riders are french and they just rule in the mud, or any other conditions.
  • 9 0
 @waldo-jpg: Also the volume of Commencal riders vs other brands - was it the bike or the riders picked up by the bike company and the tyre choice.

I heard Troy say he had a dry rear and that screwed it for him and I think Matt Walker ran a dry rear in the first race which he said made it sketchy.
  • 11 0

I had a wet rear once. Needless to say my underwear was not impressed
  • 2 0
 Pretty sure I heard Vergier say they had Wet Scream rear and Shorty front on Friday's race.
  • 1 0
 @gnarnaimo: Yep true. They were talking about it in the morning before the race on instagram. And most other teams went for dry tires. Hence they had an advantage because many already lost a lot of time in the first grassy corners
  • 15 0
 Snowshoe should be a double header to end the season. Not only to make it interesting but also more worthwhile for teams to head over. (Covid aside)
  • 7 0
 Not defending Lousã here,but how would it be more interesting than a new venue and how would it be more worthwhile for the teams (largely more Europe based)?
  • 8 0
 @nozes: I think he is suggesting in a normal season (say next year) that the last race being in the US with no other reason to travel could be doubled up to make it more impactful.

I would like to see a true double course though with two distinct WC level tracks - the efforts in maribor are commendable but if they held that in the Porte du Soleil you could run three world cups in three weeks from Avoriaz, Morzine and Les Gets - actually chuck in Chatel and you could do 4. Morgins 5, Champery 6......Do the whole season from one location Boom!
  • 1 0
 @nozes: I think ending the season on a double event would be very interesting, mostly for the impact on the points race.
Also because the last race is outside of Europe, more European privateers would attend. If you notice last year attendance at snowshoe was down vs Worlds in MSA. Maybe if it was a double then the attraction would be more incentive to go.
  • 3 0
 The current schedule hardly lives up to the "world" part of the world cup name.

The doubles are definitely a thing that should be utilised for other races. There should be world cup races in asia, africa, south/central america, and oceania.
  • 1 0
 @Afterschoolsports: While I am with you on this, the cost would be prohibitive. There needs to be an infrastructure to support the circus. Snowshoe was awesome but there were plenty of people complaining about the remoteness of the location.

A double header in a couple of US locations would make the trip worthwhile. I am not sure why the US is consistently left off the schedule.
  • 1 0
 @jmhills: Drive distances in the US are quite significant - let's say we have one in Nowhere, VA and one in Mountain, CA.

What's the distance between these two fictional towns? Twice the distance between Ft. William and Nové Město na Moravě.

It's pretty much why the US is consistently left off the schedule.
  • 1 0
 @tempest3070: Who says that you have to flip coasts though? A couple races in WV and then a couple races in CA. Or, stay local and go up the coast a few hours into NE states. Or out to Windrock a little further South.
  • 14 0
 6. We the people like the double header format!
  • 10 0
 Tracey Hannah needs a mortal kombat character with that yell
  • 8 0
 I feel like the course marshalls who were screaming their heads off for every rider deserved a mention more than the bike sounds.
  • 7 0
 That was mostly one guy and they found his Instagram here in an earlier PM thread and indeed he was awesome.
  • 9 0
 The French are still insanely fast
  • 9 1
 It’s the rider, not the bike!
  • 33 1
 That is undoubtedly true...but at some point the bike does matter. When all the riders are at the top of their game is when the bike begins to matter. That 0.5% speed increase or just confidence inspiring nature of a certain bike can make the 0.8 second difference that separated 1st from 5th in the 2nd race.

You could take Loris Vergier and put him on a V10 from 2 generations ago and he wouldn’t win that race. He’d still smash us mere mortals but wouldn’t beat Bruni on his current bike
  • 8 0
 Wouldn't it be better to aggregate the results into each bike brand's average time at each race. Take all results for each brand and average out their placing through the field.

Pretty sure that would put Specialized or Santa Cruz in the "fastest bike" placing if actually averaged finish time for them. I could be dead wrong also.

Where are my math nerds?
  • 28 1
 Would just like to remind you that Yoann Barelli beat his personal best time on his personal test track by SIX SECONDS on the Grim Donut.
  • 10 0
 It's the grim donut, not the bike.
  • 1 0
 @blowmyfuse: That still wouldn't tell you much about the bike though, as the brands hiring faster riders would have faster average times on their bikes, whereas minor brands sponsoring lower level riders would have slower average times, even if they're just as good
  • 3 1
 @medievalbiking: I just want to see if my guess is right honestly. My brain tells me that Commencal's are more prevalent because of the price point they hit but says that FSR & multi-link designs like DW Link and FSR...would have a higher average finish time.

I quite literally believe single pivots only excel on certain style courses and that multi-link rear ends that allow the rear wheel to track backward more freely are "faster" designs that let the bike & rider carry (or not lose) more speed. YT, Scott, GT, Specialized, Pivot, Mondraker, Giant in my head all should have a faster average than the combined average of Commencal, Kona, Nukeproof, Norco, etc.

Actually, I'm undecided on Devinci & Trek. The floating rear axle paths are nothing I've had much time at all on...let alone big, consecutive, chunky flat rock sections where you have to float and/or pedal/sprint.
  • 1 0
 @blowmyfuse: Trek's pretty much proven their design at this point given their race history.
  • 8 2
 "Bike Noises in the Live Feed Sounded Great" absolutely.

A commentary-free effects feed option for the sound is well overdue Red Bull.
  • 7 1
 Not having to listen to morons with chainsaws all the way down the track is a massive plus point in my opinion. Keep that for the finish area.
  • 3 0
 Hey, just a correction: Remi Thirion’s best result in WC came with the win in ValNord where he just went straight where everyone else was turning and braking... for me a run on an equal level to gwin’s mont sainte anne run or pierron’s run from les gets.
  • 1 0
 i read "second best result"...but yes one of this run to rewatch at times. Hart 2011 wolrd champ run is still the best for me thanks to Warner excitement!!
  • 3 0
 Best run of all time was Sam Hill Champery 2007. I'll die on that hill
  • 1 0
 @T4THH: I'm with you. Stand your ground. Beer
  • 6 1
 I'm really happy about the environmental benefits of less road and air travel. Across the 300+ people racing and supporting each team, its a massive carbon saving.
  • 3 1
 I feel like saying that the Supreme is the most decorated bike (at least this season) is alot like saying the Honda civic is the most stolen vehicle. Its more about the ratio I think. If you categorized the amount of riders on each frame design, im sure the Supreme would win that too.
  • 3 0
 The bike sounds were great, but those GT's sound like a tin full of marbles! More slapper tape.
  • 5 0
 Garbage Truck
  • 2 0
 Love the double header format. however i think a day off in between races will be good, and prize money should not be split between two races.
  • 1 0
 6. Oisin O Callaghan could be a force to be reckoned with. Gold at World Champs, 1st in race 1, 1st in race 2. By some comfortable margins too. Remind you of anyone, say... Daprela, Hmmm I wonder what he's doing now....
  • 3 0
 Gwin's still got it and the mixed wheel setup is really working for Loris
  • 1 0
 I’m sure we could get live mic & video feeds from each bike if Redbull made it mandatory for everyone so no one was at a disadvantage...
  • 2 0
 When pros like Nina have a choice they go for the v10 and then win on it immediately
  • 1 0
 @jmhills: just getting to snowshoe from an airport could be difficult for international travelers. I believe its a 4 hour trip from an intl airport
  • 2 0
 Were the issues with prize money sorted?
  • 3 0
 It was tyres race 1
  • 2 0
 Oh, and third place at Worlds
  • 5 0
 Whats up with the website? 5 years of writers block?
  • 1 0
 With the rapid progression I'd find it more strange if the new to elite juniors didn't podium...
  • 3 2
 I also learned that womens races are boring if there are only 12 contestants.
  • 4 0
 Boring might be a bit harsh. But was slighty disappointed when i saw the start list.
  • 4 4
 Great time for a sexual reassignment surgery
  • 2 0
 I learned that coil shocks are back Smile
V10 is still fast.
  • 1 0
 Charging teams two entry fees but chopping the prize money in half is indefensible.
  • 1 0
 Any word on lousa? Is there any dramas with restrictions
  • 1 1
 ...despite a crash on the long right-hander. I can't read "long roit handa" without hearing Rob Warners voice.
  • 4 6
 World Champs was a toss of the coin, Maribor was more about skills and Team effort. SantaCruz did kill it.
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