Sick whips and champagne, torn tape and broken bones... With each downhill World Cup season that passes we become ever more accustomed to the great highs and lows this sport brings to the table... It's simply a wild ride every single time.

2016 was no exception other than the lows bottomed out lower than usual... Gone but not soon forgotten, we lost a couple of irreplaceable and inspirational characters to tragic accidents. Their spirit lives on in everyone who knew them, loved and idolised them. It was also farewell to the legend built from Sheffield Steel that is Steve Peat and as if that didn't sting enough more might be quick to follow... Our chances of seeing Sam Hill and Josh Bryceland ripping between the tape are dwindling at best and cover your kids' ears because there are murmurs that the greatest of all time might hang up his boots after the next one. Rachel Atherton gave us more reasons to remember 2016 of course, riding the perfect season totally undefeated and stretching a winning streak to a mind-bending 14 World Cups before running away with the rainbow stripes alongside the young Canadian prodigy, Finn Isles, and the Redcar Rocket himself. Suffice to say that as the summer came to a close we witnessed a true match for Aaron Gwin's talent as the Englishman returned from a 5 year hiatus to reclaim top step glory, not once, but four times in a row.

Yes, this was a year to stow away strong in the memory banks... Eight races of unmissable gravity competition with all your favourite faces from the four corners of the globe. Well, soak it in folks because here it is; every post from the 2016 UCI Downhill World Cup season in all its Photo Epic glory.






TRACKWALK
Return of the Holy Roller

PRACTICE
Lourdes Have Mercy

QUALIFYING
The Second Coming

FINALS
Revelations


bigquotesWhat a beginning... What a sign of things to come. At long last, all the prophecies and wild speculation of the off-season can be laid to rest because Judgement Day has been and gone, sorting the good from the bad, the weak from the strong and dealing out some ugly crashes along the way. The crowds swelled and buckled rims and horns deafened, as all of mountain biking's most loyal French followers gathered together to witness a real life downhill miracle...

Winners - Aaron Gwin :: Rachel Atherton :: Finn Iles



So long from Lourdes - until next time.
Logic s fans will stand by him no matter what and he was greeted at the finish line by a hero s welcome.











TRACKWALK
Jungle Boogie

PITS & PRACTICE
The Jungle Bites Back

QUALIFYING
Changing Patterns

FINALS
Rainbow Stripes and Lazer Beams


bigquotesYou call that a race? Mate, THIS was a race! And yet somehow it's over already. Sam Hill's in his pyjamas. He's been to the after-party and back; now he's all tucked up. It's true the 17,000km mission from the Pyrenees wrapped up seemingly no sooner than it began. Next stop? Well there's a while before that one. First, let's soak up all the Australian madness in one visual fell swoop...

Winners - Loic Bruni :: Rachel Atherton :: Matt Walker


We spent the first couple days looking for deadly critters to no avail. So instead we paid to feed this 16 foot Saltie.
Remy Morton unloads his bike for the first run of the week.












STEVIE SMITH TRAGICALLY LEAVES US
Long Live Chainsaw



Stevie Smith











TRACKWALK
The Sun Shines For a Legend

PRACTICE
Back to Bedrock

QUALIFYING
Dusty Old Bones

FINALS
We Are Legend


bigquotesPicture postcard weather, sold out gondola tickets and some of the biggest crowds Aanoch Mor has ever seen in its hosting history and we were already off to a legendary start in the Highlands. Add in the outrageous speed, monster wipe-outs, kilts, cow bells, a handful of unicorns and not forgetting the legends themselves and Fort William was nothing short of an all-time race...

Winners - Greg Minnaar :: Rachel Atherton :: Finn Iles


A tribute run for Steve Smith was organized for the end of track walk today with almost every top rider making their way down in one long and dusty train.
All the dust means things are getting rowdy in a different kind of way as kindly demonstrated here by Brendan Fairclough.












TRACKWALK
Run for Cover

PRACTICE
The Calm Before

QUALIFYING
Wet and Wild

FINALS
In For The Kill


bigquotesAfter days of rigorous mud prep and sleepless nights thanks to a faulty weather forecast, the course continued to dry fast over race day, but it never quite seemed to get there. The majority of top-flight riders, unable to adapt, were left scratching their heads in the mixed up conditions and with the kind of result they'd rather forget. The level continues to soar and those who can't learn to fly quick enough are simply snatched up and dashed against the rocks by the ferocious competition. Must be why it's all so damn good to watch...

Winners - Aaron Gwin :: Rachel Atherton :: Gaetan Vige


Aaron sends his goggles into the screaming crowd.
Congratulations all around for these tow guys today.












TRACKWALK
Swiss Made

PRACTICE
More Cowbell

QUALIFYING
Too Close to Call

FINALS
A Hair's Breadth


bigquotesSo concludes a brilliant week in the high-altitude Swiss dirt... Half a decade since the Redcar Rocket, Danny Hart, claimed the top step at the muddy steeps of Champery, he finally muscled it again to achieve his first career world cup victory. Even the likes of the mighty AG and the G.O.A.T. didn't have the minerals to keep the Englishman at bay at he now charges forward into second place for the overall...

Winners - Danny Hart :: Rachel Atherton :: Finn Iles


Finn Isles cleans the sketchy Plunge for top spot by over 1.5 seconds.
Remi Thirion scrubbing his way to a one of the finest performances of his career.












TRACKWALK
Aged to Perfection

PRACTICE
Speed Freaks

QUALIFYING
Rattling the Cages

FINALS
Mont Sainte Dan


bigquotesSo many years a classic, so many years a jewel in the DH crown... 2016 spurred on the upward curve of MSA expectation still further as we watched Danny Hart roar to victory for the second consecutive round of the summer. The gratuitously rugged hillside, so richly steeped in MTB history, was running drier than we've known it in many years, and although grip levels appeared soothed by overnight rain, the moisture could do little to iron out the ruts crafted by over two decades of racing, and the infamous track upheld its formidable reputation another year...

Winners - Danny Hart :: Rachel Atherton :: Gaetan Vige


It seems like ages since it s been this dusty at MSA.
Troy Brosnan makes himself an S as he navigates the big rock garden.











IN MEMORY OF ZARJA CERNILOGAR
RIP Zarja











TRACKWALK
The Closer

PRACTICE
The Berm Busters

QUALIFYING
The Dust Bowl

FINALS
From the Ashes

bigquotesFour days straight under blazing Andorran sun, sucking in the orange dust through helmet vents and it all came crashing down in apocalyptic fashion for the last men up the mountain. Gone was the moon dust, bone-dry wood and rock, replaced by ever-thickening, speed-sapping sludge and treacherous features in between. Yesterday's top performers suddenly became victims of their own success, as the clouds rolled in and thunder crackled hard overhead with perfect ill timing...

Winners - Danny Hart :: Rachel Atherton :: Gaetan Vige


Tracey Hannah finished this season off with a bang. Second place today and second in the over all was oh so sweet.
All these people wanted nothing more than to see Remi Thirion win today. Even when well down at the splits on a wet track they were cheering louder for him than anyone else.














PITS SPECIAL
Bikes of the Best

TRACKWALK
Per Tutta La Gloria

PRACTICE
Fear and Loaming

TIMED SESSION
A Test of Metal

PRACTICE II
Moon Dust and Angel Beams

THE MECHANICS RACE
Boxxer World Champs

FINALS
Over the Rainbow


bigquotesCheckers or wreckers; it's the essence of World Champs in a nutshell. Always has been, always will. The one-hit-wonder format to finish the season is the jewel in the crown every time, but what a ferocious battle this was. For some it was more of a massacre, an orgy of red flags and explosive crashes, on a parched and blown-out course that already had a history of violence. Many of the riders were in agreement; it was the toughest of all time. And, with the likes of Greg Minnaar almost completely gassed and literally red-eyed and white-knuckled just to hang on through the final turns, it was now time to go big or go home...

Winners - Danny Hart :: Rachel Atherton :: Finn Iles



Sometimes it hurts
This was the moment that Laurie Greenland nearly threw it all away. How he held this one up on the steepest section of track is incredible.

Your 2016 men s and women s elite Word Champions. Rachel Atherton and Danny Hart.







2016 Women's Overall Series Standings


1 Rachel ATHERTON - 1700
2 Manon CARPENTER - 1140
3 Tracey HANNAH - 1130
4 Tahnee SEAGRAVE - 1015
5 Emilie SIEGENTHALER - 630
6 Morgane CHARRE - 590
7 Marine CABIROU - 494
8 Eleonora FARINA - 442
9 Carina CAPPELLARI - 389
10 Miranda MILLER - 387



The five fastest ladies of the 2016 UCI World Cup.







2016 Men's Overall Series Standings

1 Aaron GWIN - 1252
2 Danny HART - 1226
3 Troy BROSNAN - 1031
4 Greg MINNAAR - 927
5 Connor FEARON - 664
6 Loic BRUNI - 638
7 Loris VERGIER - 613
8 Remi THIRION - 566
9 Luca SHAW - 546
10 Adam BRAYTON - 531



After a long battle spread across a few continents these five men came out on top.


Previous Photo Epic Summaries

The Complete DH WC Season 2014

The Complete DH WC Season 2015




MENTIONS: @natedh9 / @davetrump / @mdelorme



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48 Comments

  • + 119
 That Stevie Smith wheelie picture will forever give me goose bumps.
  • + 30
 Damn ninjas cutting onions
  • + 13
 And every time the Cold War Kids' song First comes on, I think of the amazing tribute video PB made :'(
  • + 2
 Maybe it's time I got around to watching that? I'm still in denial.
  • + 3
 @lobohusky: same thing here...I can't help but take a moment to think of Stevie every time that song comes on
  • + 34
 Long Live Chainsaw!
  • + 24
 Can someone tell me how that Rachel Atherton girl got so fast?! ○~
  • + 33
 *fetches popcorn
  • + 19
 I think because she follows Gee, nah must be something else.
  • + 5
 She drinks too much redbull
  • + 1
 Ben Reid.
  • + 2
 Maybe it has something to do with her brothers... Wink
  • + 18
 A very emotional heartbreaking season with the loss of two good people in DH racing,they will never be forgotten,pinkbike thank you for the fantastic coverage of each round of the series.Congrats to Hart,Rachel & Finn for being world champion & Gwin for winning the world cup overall.
  • + 3
 Yeah, a roller coaster season in so many ways
  • + 19
 I think this also belongs here:

www.pinkbike.com/news/stevie-smith-tribute-video.html

#longlivechainsaw
  • + 11
 Not gonna lie, in that last picture greg minnaar makes then all look like midgets.
  • + 4
 WOW! Minnaar is a beast compared to them! I didn't realize there was that much difference in their heights! Makes AG's pose look even funnier now after saying this!
  • + 1
 @ryanholio: Hes 1m 90 haha
  • + 1
 @HardtailsAreGnarly: And Steve is a few cm larger. Josh, BTW, is ~185 if i remember correctly. The tallest team on the circuit?
  • + 9
 Asides from the tragic losses, it truly was a great season
#longlivechainsaw
#rideforzarja
  • + 3
 Fantastic piece! Best I've read on Pinkbike. All forms of racing deserve a homage like this.. The photos, the links, the layout. First rate. This is how we remember an amazing season of racing. From our computer, rather than a bar stool.. I'm bookmarking this one. Eric
  • + 6
 #longlivechainsaw
  • + 2
 Danny Hart was unlucky not to win the overall with 1225 points. How many points did Miami Bryce get when he won it? 1187. It just shows, luck comes into it.
  • + 3
 We are not called Great Britain for nothing. Peace xx
  • + 3
 Is Rat done? I read somewhere that Warner confirmed it?
  • + 3
 noooooooooo!
  • + 1
 I don't believe. There is no way out from our "submarine"? Wink
  • + 2
 the camera guy in lenzehiede looks like he just proposed to danny!
  • + 1
 Can't wait for 2017. Gwins 2nd season on yt should show better results. Should be a good year.
  • + 1
 great article, thanx PB. it's in my faves to read again over the duration of the long dark Sog.
  • + 3
 Rachel Atherton.
  • + 2
 'member the World Cups guys? 'member??
  • + 1
 G.O.A.T? At a guess I'd say Minaar but not really based on anything. Can anyone clarify?
  • + 2
 Yeah Greg is Mr Minn or GOAT
  • + 2
 GOAT due to the most wins i guess.
  • + 2
 is there a book of this?
  • + 1
 Two things I love watching: Women's Downhill Racing + Roller Derby !
  • + 1
 It was a heck of a season to follow. Till next year!
  • + 1
 gunu be a long winter... thanks again Pinkbike
  • + 2
 What a season it was
  • + 1
 Thank you for that! PINKBIKE.
  • + 1
 Terima Kasih Basikal Merah Jambu!
  • + 1
 Rachael is beast Rip Stevie Gwin watch out Danny is coming for you
  • + 1
 I thought downhill was dead too for a second.
  • + 1
 No Junior Women?
  • - 3
 I know they're not the words that should be used but the people attributing Rachel's speed to her brothers can go and fuck themselves, they probably wouldn't be fast enough to eat her dust before it settled
  • + 1
 Downhill is my life

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