The Form Guide - Who is Going Fast Coming Into the 2019 Downhill World Cup Season?

Apr 24, 2019
by James Smurthwaite  
The pre-season is officially over and World Cup fever is rising. The first round in Maribor is this weekend and the pressure is on to pick a knockout Fantasy Team.

The racers in the Southern Hemisphere have barely stopped while those in Europe and North America have spent the past couple of months coming out of their gym hibernations and are putting tyres to dirt again.

We’ve decided to take a look through the dozens of races that have attracted top racers since the dust settled in Lenzerheide last September to see who is looking fast coming into the 2019 season:

Matt Walker
The writing was on the wall early with Matt Walker cutting and curving lines that few others could hold.

British National Round 1 1st
iXS Downhill Round 1 1st

The young British Champion heads into his second season elite with some seriously impressive results. Matt has won two of the most stacked races of the year in the first British National round at Rheola and the iXS European round that took place on this weekend's World Cup track in Maribor, pushing his team mate Danny Hart into second both times.

It took Matt just two races to claim his first Elite World Cup top ten last year and he's already stood himself apart as one to watch as the season kicks off this weekend.

Tracey Hannah
Tracey Hannah felt right at home on this track.

Crankworx Rotorua Downhill 1st
Australian Championships 1st
iXS Downhill Round 1 1st

It has been a massively successful off season for Tracey Hannah with a national title and two other major race wins to her name. She won by more than four seconds at both the Crankworx Downhill and the iXS but was pushed hard in Bright at the Australian championships by Sian A'Hern.

Brook MacDonald
Brook Macdonald is definetly a favourite personality around these parts and the crowd let him know it. He managed to just edge out the young Finn by a mere hundredth of a second.

Crankworx Downhill 1st
New Zealand National Championships 1st

The winner at the Crankworx Rotorua Downhill generally goes on to have a fairly strong start to the season. Last year, Blenki took top honours and would pick up his first podium since 2015 at the first race in Losinj, in 2017 Jack Moir went fastest and would earn a career best result at round 2 in Fort William, and 2016’s winner, Loic Bruni, would pick up his first World Cup win just a month later in Cairns.

This year it was Brook MacDonald that took the top step and seems to have set himself up well for the season ahead. Finn Iles was within a tenth of MacDonald’s time though and George Brannigan produced a great run for third.

Brook also took the New Zealand Champinoships and will wear the national sleeve for 2019. It was another tight race and he only pipped Max Hartenstern by a quarter of a second. Brook comes into the season unbeaten and will be hoping to put the bad memories of 2018's opening round behind him.

Rachel Atherton

British National Round 1 1st

The first British National round of the year took place at Rheola and it saw a head-to-head between the two fastest women of 2018 - Rachel Atherton and Tahnee Seagrave. In her first race on the new Atherton Bike, Rachel claimed first blood and took the win by nearly 7 seconds, putting to bed any doubts about whether she would be fast on the family designed race bike. Rachel hasn't taken to the start gate at any other races but the warning shot was clear.

Martin Maes
Even a little rain on Saturday evening couldn t derail the Maes Train.

EWS Rotorua 1st
EWS Tasmania 1st

There’s one name that’s dominated the pre-season and will be putting fear into the heart of seasoned downhill racers with his relentless consistency - Martin Maes. Martin is yet to race his downhill bike in 2019 but he showed last year that won’t slow him down when he chooses to.

Martin has won 8 out of 11 stages so far in the EWS this year and is looking simply unstoppable. We’ve not had official confirmation that Martin is going to be racing in Maribor (although there are some heavy hints on social media). If he does turn up in Slovenia… watch out.

Troy Brosnan
Troy Brosnan won t be delighted with 10th here in VDS but he ll be back to defend his top step in Vallnord.

Cannonball Downhill 1st
Australian Championships 1st
iXS Downhill Round 1 7th

Troy Brosnan comes into the 2019 season having won the Thredbo Cannonball Open in December and, most significantly, the Australian Champs in earlier this month. Brosnan took the win by more than 2 seconds from a pretty stacked field and retains his sleeve for another year. Brosnan didn't have such a strong result at the iXS in Maribor but if you've seen the footage of him saluting the crowd after the rock garden you've probably already realised he was one of the racers taking it not too seriously.

Other Contenders

Amaury Pierron


Last year’s World Cup champion has kept himself busy in Europe with wins in the Portugal Cup and the Brioude DH Cup. Most significantly he took the win at Lousa on the 2020 World Cup track in a race that included Danny Hart, Gee Atherton and more.

Aaron Gwin


Gwin has had a fairly quiet pre-season, doing his usual trick of showing his face at a few local races and generally winning them. He was on the ground in Maribor but elected to miss seeding and racing, keeping his powder dry for the main event.

Gwin always starts strong and has won all but one opening round of the World Cup since 2013. The only one he lost was the Lourdes washout in 2017 where he was DQ’d on an almost unrideable track.

Loris Vergier

Great riding today by Loris Vergier.

Neko Mulally’s Windrock has rapidly become a major offseason destination for a lot of racers. It’s home to the RockShox pre-season camps so a lot of teams make it out there for testing and racing before the season begins in earnest.

This year’s race was hit hard by rain but there were two racers who battled through the slop and stood head and shoulders above the rest. Loris Vergier took the win by 0.5 seconds from Charlie Harrison but the pair had a five second gap back to Jacob Dickson in third.

Laurie Greenland

Laurie Greenland rounded up the top 5 in the men s field.

Fifth overall last year, Greenland has had a fairly quiet start to the year. His most significant result was a win in Wanaka at an NZ National, where he put nearly 4 seconds into the field. His remaining results haven’t been so stellar but anybody who saw his wild run in Rotorua will know he has raw pace to burn.

Tahnee Seagrave

Tahnee Seagrave took her time to find her pace on this tricky track. She would finish third in finals.

Tahnee won a Portugal Cup to kick off her year but probably won't be too happy with a third at Crankworx and handing a significant deficit to Rachel Atherton in Rheola. She's said on social media she has been struggling with set up so far this year and it would have been interesting to see how she stacked up had she taken to the start line for the iXS at the weekend.




The Fantasy Downhill League is Presented by Trek and SRAM.



MENTIONS: @trek / @SramMedia




64 Comments

  • + 77
 Aaron Gwin under "other contenders"... I feel like some how we take for granted how fast the man is.
  • + 57
 Also not even a mention of Minnaar?? Have we forgotten the most dominant in the sport
  • + 38
 Beats being like Loic, Danny, Luca, and Gee who didn't even get mentioned.
  • + 4
 @coralcorn: Sooo right - they write him off every year and somehow he manages to win a race. If everything lines up, he could still win an overall or a World Champ
  • + 29
 who's going fast?



ethan shandro...

that's who.
  • + 2
 most underrated comment- think what you want of the dude-- he is FAST...new bike...new team...could be a another killer season.
  • + 1
 @coralcorn: Meh, Minaar never podium'd last year. But add Dean Lucas to the conversation.
  • + 5
 Aaron Gwin is going to sweep the 2019 WCDH season.
  • + 10
 I think the problem is that there are TOO many super elite riders. Seriously, there are like 8 people who have a very legit shot at winning this weekend
  • - 14
flag ColquhounerHooner (Apr 24, 2019 at 13:35) (Below Threshold)
 @MTBrent: Nah, the dudes gunna crash and burn.
  • + 3
 @hamncheez: and the rest!

Such a stacked field. Gonna be a great season!
  • + 0
 @chriskneeland: besides Bruni I could see why those other riders weren’t mentioned
  • + 1
 @coralcorn: Minnar is the dark horse.
  • + 1
 @chriskneeland: Didn't he podium (or come close) at WC's?
  • + 1
 @brappjuice: 'think what you want of the dude' ... Ahh the ol backhanded Gwin compliment.
  • + 1
 There is a changing of the guard happening with these young bucks. Pretty sure Gain can run with anyone if he defeats pressure and gets back to ripper status.
  • + 31
 DH season. Finally.
  • + 2
 6AM PST can't come fast enough!!
  • + 13
 Maes to dominates both downhill and enduro this year? My fantasy teams sure hope so.
  • + 2
 Whoever can perform well in the rain or wet conditions will take it, like La Bresse last year. weather
  • + 8
 Maes even doing the first round?
  • + 4
 The biggest question...IS ANYONE INJURED? Last year I had 2 on the injured list just after I couldn't change the f'n team lol. Can't wait for this season, my favorite sport to watch BY FAR.
  • + 4
 The pressure of an actual World Cup changes everything, there’s 500 fast guys in the world, 100 that can do pretty well on the regular, 25 who fight for the top 10 but only a few ever win a World Cup. Same for the gals.
  • + 2
 Which is why Danny Hart will beat his teammate in every race that counts. Massive balls.
  • + 1
 @Naturel: Always choking under pressure? I kind of had the opposite feeling to be honest. He's had some big results under pressure. Certainly I would say he is one of the more consistent high finishers. Others are more known for being fast in practice and never having a good race result.
  • + 4
 laurie greenland is gonna charm the pants off nixon and win a ping pong tournament.
  • + 1
 Its almost impossible to say who is "fast" or not based on such a tiny sample or races. Obviously there are times and results, but without seeing these riders full runs there is no way to know if a rider with a slower time is really riding "slow" or if they may have just not had a clean run. There is a big diffference between someone putting down a clean run and finishing well off the pace and someone finish with the same time who maybe had a bobble or small crash.
  • + 5
 Lots of awesome pics in there
  • + 4
 I just can't see past Gwin.
  • + 2
 Lets see, in no particular order: How can you right off: Greg Minnaar, Danny Hart, Gee Atherton and Luca Shaw.
All of them should podium this year!
  • + 3
 It's about who already showed some good form in the last weeks, not a general prediction. Would not be surprised to see all of these 4 in the Top10 anyway..
  • + 3
 I'm interested in the dark horses like Pierron was last year. Matt Walker is maybe the Pierron of 2019 Who else?
  • + 4
 I am not going to change my fantasy team. No I am not. Really.
  • + 3
 I swear, this is the last time I'll change it! Wink
  • + 1
 @mtbikeaddict: Said no one ever Smile
  • + 1
 I think the only mention I'd not put my money on is the bulldog though I hope I'm proven wrong.
  • + 1
 #1 is "another contender" true i suppose, everyone is another contender but he should have been top of the list.
  • + 2
 Charlie Harrison looking good too
  • + 1
 Hart or Brosnan????? This is gonna drive me crazy trying to decide.
  • - 2
 Aaron Gwin is barely a mountain biker. Neko ftw. Neko is fully in. Building. All the races. Fast as hell and an even nicer dude. He is what is awesome about WCDH. Proves it every time.
  • + 3
 Never heard that Gwin is barely a mountain biker. What world do you live in? lmao
  • + 1
 How did Gwin get DQ'd during his race at Lourdes in 2017?
  • + 6
 Didn’t he slip off the course, and rejoin not in quite the right place?
  • + 1
 Think he left the track. IIRC the rain came down hard towards the end and got real greasy and both him and Hart struggled to stay upright..
  • + 1
 Where´s Phil Atwill??
  • + 1
 Exactly!!
  • + 7
 In Maribor, most likely.
  • + 1
 Yes walker!
  • + 0
 Dakotah Norton...
  • - 2
 who even like @maxlester
Below threshold threads are hidden

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2019. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv56 0.058070
Mobile Version of Website