A new year means new beginnings and there's plenty to look forward to over the next 12 months. Before we get stuck into that though, let's take a look back at some of the things we'll be leaving behind in 2018.Two Cross Country legends
Two of the most successful cross country mountain bikers and two of the very select gold medal Olympic winning club, Julien Absalon
and Gunn Rita Dahle-Flesja
, called time on their cross country racing careers this season. Between them they have 73 World Cup wins and have been cornerstones of the sport for nearly 20 years.
They leave the sport in the most exciting place it has been in years though and, with incredible racing in both the men’s and women’s series last year, we’re looking forward to plenty more action in 2019. In fact, Absalon won’t even be away from the pits as he moves into a full time team manager role for his own Absolute Absalon team.The rise of the young guns in downhill
2018 was the year the downhill young guns delivered en masse. There were first time wins for Amaury Pierron, Loris Vergier and Martin Maes while a flurry of other riders also claimed podiums and top tens for the first time. It was great to see a new generation ripping up the rankings and challenging Gwin’s dominance of the last three years.
In particular, take a look at the riders who were born in 1996 or later - the three winners plus, Shaw, Greenland, Wilson, Harrison, Iles, Walker - all now firmly established World Cup riders and aged 22 or younger. These are the first wave of riders who were given a junior category to compete in and clearly its introduction has paid dividends in getting them up to speed in elites quicker than any other generation. We’ll be interested to see what a fully fit Minnaar, a resurgent Gee and Gwin on a new team can bring to the table to match them again next year.
Let’s not forget Vali Holl either who emerged as the next big thing in downhill this year and will no doubt continue delivering strong performances week in, week out next year in the junior women's category.Darren Berrecloth and Brandon Semenuk in competition
Two of freeride’s legends stepped away from competition this year. At Rampage, Derren Berrecloth announced he would no longer be competing in freeride and while Brandon Semenuk has given no official word on his future, his absence at Joyride was palpable this year and the YouTube description for AIM hinted he was done with all competitions for good.
The good news is of course, this gives both rides more time to concentrate on the rad video projects they’ve been pumping out for years. Low(er) bike prices
With Chinese trade tariffs
and Brexit uncertainties, a large proportion of us could be looking at price increases on our mountain bikes next year. There are no certainties here yet but keep an eye out in spring for brands to start breaking the news softly.Those who passedIngrid Doerr
, Kyle Ebbett
, and Dan Hanebrink
. R.I.P.… and three things we won’t missDownhill start order chaos
What a mess the downhill start order was this year. Not only were two top qualifiers denied their rightful spot as the last rider down on Sunday but the rest of the field was all over the place was well. The scheme came from Red Bull, who wanted the last rider on track to be the World Cup leader each time but, after an intense reaction to the MacDonald demotion in Losinj, a new interpretation of the rule was found where the fastest protected rider would go last followed by the rest of the protected riders in reverse qualifying order and then… you know what? Some weeks we weren’t sure ourselves. Thank god it has been binned for next year.Bike thefts
It’s been another stinker of a year for bike thefts with Hans Rey, Orange and Rocky Mountain being the most high profile targets. Scumbags will always be scumbags but let’s hope quite as many people aren’t victims of bike thefts in 2019.Rampage controversy
… Ah, who are we kidding? Brace yourselves for another year of robberies.