As we head into 2020 it's time to remember a decade of riding evolution in mountain biking. If you're told us in 2010 that riders would be tricking on the Hardline course, spinning 1440s or landing 100 foot backflips, we might have been skeptical, but it's all happened this decade, and much more. This was supposed to be a Top 10 list, but there have been so many legendary riders making their mark, it turned out to be an impossible task. So without further ado and in no particular order
, here is Pinkbike's list of the best riders to have done it inside and outside of the tape this past decade.
1. Rachel Atherton
37 World Cup DH Wins
25 World Cup DH Podium Finishes
2012 + 2013 + 2015 + 2016 + 2018 Overall World Cup DH Winner
2013 + 2015 + 2016 + 2018 DH World Champion
It goes without saying that no other rider can match the dominance of Rachel Atherton in the past ten years in World Cup downhill. With 37 World Cup wins, 25 podiums and four World Championship titles, she is clearly an unstoppable force in the sport. Her strongest period came between 2015 and 2017 where she stormed to 13 consecutive victories on a golden streak that may well stand for many decades to come.
After managing that huge successive winning streak, Rachel has continued to stay at the top of the sport. Looking at her score sheet for the past ten years, it’s hard to find any year where she wasn’t successful in one way or another. As we close out the decade, women’s downhill is in a really healthy place with new riders popping up every week to challenge for podiums. Rachel may have been the stand-out rider of the decade but she has also been a beacon for the other women, a target for them to aim at, and the entire sport has been lifted as a result.
2. Greg Minnaar
12 World Cup DH Wins
29 World Cup DH Podium Finishes
2012 + 2013 DH World Champion
There were probably a number of fans who believed Greg Minnaar was nearing the end of his racing career at the midpoint of this decade, but the South African simply refused to listen. Riders don’t come more legendary than Greg and he continues to teach the younger riders a lesson in how to win DH races. Taking an impressive 29 podiums and 12 victories across the past ten years, he has retained his reputation as a constant threat. You can never write off Greg Minnaar.
Although he hasn’t managed to score any World Cup overall titles since 2010, he has managed three second and two third-place finishes. Greg has also seen plenty of success at the World Championships with two rainbow jerseys in 2012 and 2013. More recently, he was still on the podium at this year's World Championships with a fifth place in Mont-Sainte-Anne. Greg also gave his hand at racing the EWS and in 2013, he finished third in Val d’Allos.
The bottom line is that despite fierce competition from Gwin, Minnaar has earned and retained the title of the most successful World Cup racer of all time this decade. He earned the majority of his 21 wins in the 2010s and doesn't seem to be slowing down as he enters his fourth decade of elite racing.
3. Aaron Gwin
20 World Cup DH Wins
23 World Cup DH Podium Finishes
2011 + 2012 + 2015 + 2016 + 2017 Overall World Cup DH Winner
Before 2009, if you mentioned the name Aaron Gwin, most downhill fans would have said, "who?" But it didn't take the American phenom long to set that record straight.
Aaron Gwin has had the most successful decade of any male rider with 20 wins, 23 podiums, and five World Cup overall titles. He has simply been an incredible rider to watch with some of his runs becoming the stuff of legends. Who else can say they won a World Cup race with no chain? In the early years of the decade, Gwin was untouchable. He won 9 World Cups in 2 seasons as part of Trek Factory Racing and his 8-second demolition of the field was the biggest in a World Cup by a male racer this decade and underlined his dominance. Much like Atherton, the entire field soon had Gwin in their crosshairs and he is arguably responsible for the incredible level of riding we see on the World Cup circuit in 2019.
In addition to his dominance at the World Cups, he has also been a huge presence when racing at home. Between 2010 and 2017 he won all but one national champs race and the one race he didn’t win he still came second.
4. Danny MacAskill
Danny Macaskill may have the fewest competitive accolades on this list but not many riders can say they have had the same impact on the sport as Danny Macaskill, with his videos reaching an audience that goes far beyond the scope of the normal mountain bike shreddit or race recap.
From earlier edits like 'Way Back Home' or 'Epecuen' to 'Danny Day Care or 'Wee Day Out', his videos are superbly produced and it is impossible to pin down quite what Danny is going to do next. The unpredictability and the passion that comes with every video is what makes Danny worthy of the title as one of Pinkbike's greatest riders of the decade.
Check out our list of the greatest Danny Macaskill edits here
5. Tracy Moseley
5 World Cup DH Wins
9 World Cup DH Podium Finishes
2010 DH World Champion
2011 Overall World Cup DH Winner
15 EWS Wins
6 EWS Podium Finishes
2013 + 2014 + 2015 EWS Overall Winner
Coming off a World Championship DH title in 2010 and a World Cup DH overall win in 2011, it was no surprise that when Tracy took to the EWS she saw similar success. Moseley was an early proponent of the EWS and fully transitioned over from downhill from its inception.
During her three year period racing Enduro, she racked up 15 wins and six podiums, her worst result ever was a second place. She was relentlessly consistent and by the end of her career was still taking wins while wearing a backpack full of kit and handing out spares to her fellow racers. Taking the EWS Elite Women titles in 2013 and 2014 she was unstoppable, holding off even the most decorated cyclist of all time, Anne Caroline Chausson.
6. Nino Schurter
40 World Cup XC Wins
23 World Cup XC Podium Finishes
2010 + 2012 + 2013 + 2015 + 2017 + 2018 + 2019 Overall World Cup XC Winner
2012 + 2013 + 2015 + 2016 + 2017 + 2018 + 2019 XC World Champion
2012 Olympic Silver Medal XCO + 2016 Olympic Gold Medal XCO
2017 + 2019 Cape Epic Winner
Racers don’t come much more formidable than Nino Schurter. With a mind-bending 40 World Cup wins and 23 podiums, the Swiss rider has lived this decade as the powerhouse of men's XC racing.
He won a silver in 2012 in the London Olympic XCO event and a gold medal in 2016 in Rio. He has also taken the top spot at the tough Cape Epic race in 2017 and 2019. Alongside his World Cup, Olympic and Cape Epic victories, Nino has seven overall World Cup titles and seven World Championship wins, taking every rainbow jersey since 2015.
XC racing has changed massively over this decade from smooth, simple courses to the techy nightmares we see today. Schurter has been at the top of the game no matter the course or conditions and he's done it with more style and personality than most of his competitors put together.
7. Brandon Semenuk
2016 + 2019 Red Bull Rampage Winner
2011 + 2013 + 2014 + 2015 + 2017 Red Bull Joyride Winner
Silver Medal at the 2013 Munich X-Games Slopestyle Event
Semenuk is a once in a generation talent and arguably nobody has moved mountain biking forwards more than he has. Although he was still a teenager at the start of the decade, he was already recognised as a prodigious talent and the rider to beat at any slopestyle event.
In 2011, he won his first Joyride and then won four more in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017. He also took another two Rampage wins to become only the second rider to win the event three times. He could have won so much more but in his search for perfection, he turned his back on pretty much all competition. The only time you'll see Semenuk ride live now is when Rampage rolls around as he instead focusses purely on video output.
Although unconventional, this hasn't slowed Semenuk down. He's released a number of landmark videos and still masterminds the progression of the sport through his relentless consistency and talent.
8. Sam Hill
2 World Cup DH Wins
8 World Cup DH Podium Finishes
2010 DH World Champion
8 EWS Wins
8 EWS Podium Finishes
2017 + 2018 + 2019 EWS Overall Winner
Sam Hill started the decade with a downhill World Championship win in 2010 and finished it with his third EWS overall win in a row. Yes, he's been prolific but he's also done it on his own terms - he's the only rider of the decade to win any race of significance with flat pedals on a bike with rear suspension. I challenge anyone to not get stoked watching him still slashing inside lines that nobody else is capable of taking.
Sam's downhill career may not have been as dominant this decade as in the noughties but he still claimed a World Championship jersey in 2010 and a brace of wins in 2014 when he sparked into life towards the end of the season. Everyone remembers Josh Bryceland throwing away the World Champs in Hafjell that year but make no mistake, Sam was on a winning run too until his scorpion through the rocks.
Sam quickly became disillusioned with downhill though and, as the tracks got wider, straighter and faster, he started to look for motivation elsewhere. He settled on the EWS and it suited him to a tee. With techy tracks that offered plenty of options, he soon got up to winning speed. Since switching disciplines, he has secured eight wins and eight EWS podiums. In addition, he has become the first male rider to secure the EWS overall three times having won the series in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
9. Danny Hart
4 World Cup DH Wins
25 World Cup DH Podium Finishes
2011 + 2016 DH World Champion
After his incredible performance at the wet and wild 2011 World Championships in Champery, Danny Hart had already cemented his name in downhill history but the British rider has continued to secure top results. Although he has only managed to take the top steps four times, he has been incredibly consistent with an amazing 25 podium finishes.
Alongside his success at the World Cup, Hart has managed to take the rainbow jersey in 2011 and 2016, making him the only rider to stop Loic Bruni since 2015. Also, he has seen incredible success at the UK National Championships, having never dropped out of the top three since 2015. Danny Hart also played one of the most important roles in 2019 as he became the kingmaker in Snowshoe when his winning run was all that separated the two French riders of Loic Bruni and Amaury Pierron from World Cup overall glory.
10. Nicholi Rogatkin
2016 FMB World Tour Winner
4 Crankworx Slopestyle Wins
2018 Crankworx Triple Crown Winner
Coming from a BMX background and wearing a trademark, peakless full-face helmet, it was easy for the style obsessed slope riders to mock Rogatkin as he entered the sport. He soon shut them up though by simply going bigger and harder than everyone else. Rogatkin landed the first 1080, the first 1440, the first cashroll, and multiple combos of them too.
It was a strategy that paid off as he became a regular on the top step of slopestyle podiums and the first (and still only) rider to win the Triple Crown in 2018. Away from the groomed slopestyle courses, he's shown immense character too, most notably in his one appearance at Rampage where he, perhaps misguidedly, continued riding and backflipped the last jump despite one of the biggest crashes in the event's history. His infectious enthusiasm and never-say-die attitude have made him a fan favourite and the rider to watch at pretty much every event he enters.
11. Loic Bruni
5 World Cup DH Wins
18 World Cup DH Podium Finishes
2019 Overall World Cup DH Winner
2015 + 2017 + 2018 + 2019 DH World Champion
It was thought that Nico Vouilloz's record of 7 World Championship titles would stand until the end of time, such was his dominance in the late 90's and early 00's. This decade though, a serious challenger has arisen in Loic Bruni. Bruni's tally now stands at 4 (plus a bonus 1 as a junior) and he has established himself as second-winningest World Champs rider of all time. He's currently on a streak of 3 in succession and only Danny Hart has kept him away from the stripes since 2015.
In 2019, Bruni was able to show he was more than a one-day specialist too as he backed up his World Champs prowess with the World Cup overall title. It may have come down to the nail-biting conclusion in Snowshoe, but he eventually prevailed in one of the most exciting World Cup finishes ever.
12. Cecile Ravanel
20 EWS Wins
18 EWS Podium Finishes
2016 + 2017 + 2018 EWS Overall Winner
After the era of Chausson and Moseley, there was only one woman who stepped up to claim the crown as Queen of Enduro - Cecile Ravanel. Of the past 21 races, she has entered, she has won 19, including a perfect season in 2018 that was part of a streak of 14 straight wins. She even crossed over to downhill racing and was instantly successful, earning a podium finish at her first race and picking up another before the year was through.
A horrific injury saw her sit out the 2019 season, but expect her to be right back at the top of the timesheets as we head into the 2020s.
13. Julien Absalon
12 XC World Cup Wins
34 XC World Cup Podiums
2014 + 2016 World Cup overall champion
2014 World Champion
Absalon may not have enjoyed any Olympic success this decade but he was still a force to be reckoned with and one of the most successful racers of the past ten years. His season-long battles with Schurter were always intense and he twice overcame the Swiss rider in 2014 and 2016 to claim the overall title.
An allergy to pollen cut his race career shorter than he would have liked but he is still involved with the World Cup circuit through the Absolute Absalon team that has started to collect silverware thanks to young, hungry French riders like Jordan Sarrou. Absalon's all-time win record of 33 records still stands (although Schurter is now just 1 behind) and his place in the mountain bike history books is assured. He returned to the race track at the inaugural e-MTB World Championships this year and finished third.
14. Jolanda Neff
14 World Cup XC Wins
19 World Cup XC Podium Finishes
2014 + 2015 + 2018 Overall World Cup XC Winner
2017 XC World Champion
Ensuring the Swiss domination of XC in the latter half of the decade alongside Nino Schurter is Jolanda Neff. With a 1st in the overall in 2014, 2015 and 2018, she has shown time and time again she can keep it consistent throughout a season of racing. Perhaps her most impressive performance was in La Bresse in 2018 where Jolanda came back from two flats to take the win in one of the most exhilarating XC races we have ever seen.
She may have only won the Elite rainbow jersey once in the past ten years but with 14 World Cup wins and 19 podiums there is no questioning her ability to win races or her place in this list.
15. Catharine Pendrel
11 World Cup XC Wins
33 World Cup XC podiums
2011 + 2104 XC World Champion
2010 + 2012 + 2016 World Cup Overall Champion
2016 Olympic Bronze Medallist
Catharine Pendrel is one of the most decorated XC racers of all time with 3 overall titles, 2 World Championships and 12 World Cup wins. She remains relentlessly consistent to this day and picked up her first World Cup podium in two years at the Lenzerheide round of the World Cup this year.
On and off the track, she flies the flag for Canadian mountain biking and has started Pendrel Racing, a junior and U23 mountain bike development team comprised of three Canadian mountain bikers with the skill, ambition and work ethic to make it to the highest level of our sport.
16. Gee Atherton
6 World Cup DH Wins
25 World Cup Podium Finishes
2010 World Cup Overall Champion
2014 Downhill World Champion
2018 Hardline Champion
Gee Atherton has been a consistent threat in downhill since the decade began. He started as the man to beat having bested Greg Minnaar in a season-long tussle and remained at the top of the sport for the next ten years, picking up six wins and 25 podium finishes. In 2014, he also earned his second World Championships title in Hafjell. Away from UCI events, Gee also earned a second-place finish at the 2010 Red Bull Rampage competition and won Red Bull Hardline in 2018.
The Athertons also evolved the way we see World Cup athletes. Through projects such as 4x3 or the Atherton Project, we were brought closer to the inner workings of an elite team than ever before. The team's reward was mainstream accolades and recognition. Gee was put in the centerfold of a Cosmopolitan magazine and featured on TV shows like Top Gear and BBC Earth Unplugged. Deadly on the racecourse and a massive asset for mountain biking off it, the Athertons have had a decade to remember.
17. Cam Zink
2010 FMB World Tour Winner
2010 Red Bull Rampage Winner
2010 Red Bull Joyride Winner
Landed the Biggest Backflip at 100ft in 2014
Cam Zink started this decade off with a bang when he cleaned up at the FMB World Tour, Red Bull Rampage and Red Bull Joyride all in one year. Following on from his dominance at the beginning of the decade, Cam went on to lay down some of the biggest tricks we have seen in mountain biking. Rampage became his showground as he hit the biggest ever backflip drop in two-wheeled history in 2013 and then backed it up with the biggest ever 360 drop in 2014 off the Oakley Sender. Also in 2014, he would set the world record for the furthest backflip on a bicycle with a 100-foot flip. Throughout this decade, whenever it gets steep and rowdy, Cam Zink is the man you want to be watching.
18. Jill Kintner
5 UCI World Cup DH Podiums
35 Crankworx Event Wins
50 Crankworx Event Podiums
2011 + 2013 + 2016 + 2017 + 2018 Queen of Crankworx
1 EWS Podium
When looking back at Jill Kintner's career over the past ten years, you have to ask yourself, "what can’t she do?" The American rider has podiumed five times in World Cup downhill and has dozens of Crankworx event wins in the past decade, from pump track to dual slalom, to downhill and even speed and style.
With the arsenal of skills she developed racing BMX and downhill and unparalleled work ethic, Kintner won the Crankworx Queen of Gravity in 2011 and 2013 and went on to win the prestigious Queen of Crankworx title three successive times in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The spree was only broken when she announced earlier this year she is going to look elsewhere for her next challenge. We saw her pop up at the EWS in Tasmania, where she instantly found herself slotting into second place, just 20 seconds behind the winner Isabeau Courdurier, proving there's still plenty left for Kintner to win with her prodigal talent.
18. Casey Brown
1 World Cup DH Podium and 3 EWS Podium Finishes
2015 + 2016 + 2018 Queen of Crankworx Runner Up
Casey isn't on this list for her competitive achievements but more for her barrier-breaking ability and outlook. She's become the face of female freeride and with good reason. There aren't many outlets for women to go big, but Casey Brown has pushed the boundaries at all of them. She's most prolific in Whip Off competitions, where she has remained largely undefeated all decade, but she has also been the only woman involved at events such as Proving Grounds and Hoff Fest.
Casey may have been sidelined with a shoulder injury for the recent Formation competition but the message was clear, women are finally powering through the door Casey has been knocking on for most of this decade.
19. Brett Rheeder
2011 + 2012 + 2013 FMB World Tour Winner
2018 Red Bull Rampage Winner
Gold Medal at the 2013 Munich X-Games Slopestyle Event
7 Crankworx Slopestyle wins
Brett Rheeder has become a relentlessly consistent force in the world of slopestyle. At the beginning of the decade, he dominated the FMB series, picking up three overall wins in a row. In later years he has only focussed on the diamond ranked Crankworx Slopestyle events and now has seven victories under his belt. Proving he's more than a trick pony, he also now has a Red Bull Rampage crown to his name, having conquered the red cliffs in 2018.
20. Kurt Sorge
2012 + 2015 + 2017 Red Bull Rampage Winner
We don't get many opportunities to watch Kurt Sorge ride but when we do, it's pretty special. Sorge has made the red cliffs of Utah his own this decade as he became the first man to win Rampage three times and did so in the span of just five years.
21. Pauline Ferrand Prevot
5 XCO World Cup Wins
16 XCO World Cup podiums
2015 + 2019 XCO World Champion
Both on and off the trails, Pauline Ferrand Prevot has been a formidable competitor this decade. She started off with a triple haul of rainbow jerseys in XCO, CX and on the road as a junior in 2010. In the years that followed she graduated up to elites while still technically young enough to be racing under 23s and started winning early. Her first came in 2013 and she hasn't stopped to this day. Her diary was never empty as she was successful in Cyclocross, Spring Classics, Women's Tours, Time Trials and more, holding all three rainbow jerseys once again in 2015 as an Elite. In short, if it involves pedalling fast, the chances are Prevot is very, very good at it.
Prevot's biggest achievements though may have come at the end of this year, when she recovered from an operation to address her issues with iliac endofibrosis to take her first World Cup win in five years at Val di Sole, her first XCO World Championships since 2015 in Mont-Sainte-Anne and then the Marathon World Championships three weeks later.
22. Chris Akrigg
There's nobody in the world who rides a mountain bike quite like Chris Akrigg. Usually set up on a ramshackle ramp, he cranks in with whirling legs, cleans the move and then sprints off again into the next shot. He can spot a line where nobody else can and makes cleaning it look easy in the process.
It nearly went wrong for Akrigg right at the start of the decade when he fell off a cliff while filming in 2011. He ended up with a shattered leg and broken arm, but it could have been a lot worse. On returning from that injury, he established himself as one of the most prolific video athletes in mountain bike history on any bike, in any terrain.
23. Steve Smith
4 DH World Cup Wins
9 DH World Cup podiums
2013 World Cup Overall Champion
Smith brought World Cup glory to Canada for the first time in the country's history. For a nation that has some of the best terrain and infrastructure for mountain biking in the world, it never achieved its potential on the biggest stage. Smith changed all that. It was clear he was destined for greatness from his youth, a watch of Seasons will show you the dedication and desire in the young man. His most successful period came when he was riding for Devinci on an all-Canadian dream team. His first win came at the final round of the 2012 season in Hafjell and then he really kicked into gear in 2013, winning the final three rounds on the trot and wrestling the title from the grasp of Gee Atherton.
Stevie Smith was a catalyst for Canadian downhill and the success of riders such as Mark Wallace, Finn Iles and Lucas Cruz are no doubt partly due to his inspiring career. Unfortunately, we'll never know just how great Stevie could have been. His story was never finished as his life was cut cruelly short in a motorcycle accident in 2016. He passed away at 26 years old.
24. Andreu Lacondeguy
2014 Red Bull Rampage Winner
2015 + 2018 Red Bull Rampage Podium
2013 X Games Bronze Medallist
The hard-charging Catalonian has left his mark on mountain biking this decade in many ways. Early victories came at the Red Bull Bergline, which he won in 2012, but his real successes came in the hills of Utah as he was able to open up the throttle at Rampage. Hard-charging and slashing dust, he has an eye for big lines with huge consequences but he's a rider who puts his downhill racer background to use as he flies through the contours. His reward was a win in the 2014 event and two further podiums since then.
In 2015, he and Kurt Sorge, Graham Aggasiz, Nico Vink, Makken Haugen and Nick Pescetto launched the Fest series, taking freeride back onto big jumps and pushing the boundaries of amplitude in mountain biking. Events such as DarkFest or LooseFest would have seemed like fantasy if you tried to describe them at the start of the decade, but the series has now grown into one of the highlights of the mountain bike calendar.
25. Troy Brosnan
2 DH World Cup Wins
28 DH World Cup Podiums
Brosnan moved into the elite World Cup ranks in 2012 and has podiumed at more than half the races he has entered since then. He has now also been in the top three ranked riders in the overall for the past six years. In short, he's one of the most consistent downhill riders in history. Twice it has all come together on the World Cup circuit for Brosnan, at Fort William in 2014 and then 3 years later in Vallnord. He's been super successful at Crankworx too, winning the previous five Canadian Open DH races plus two more at Les Gets on top of that.