"It Doesn't Seem Like They Really Want Privateers Here" - Interviews with World Cup Privateer Racers

Sep 14, 2023 at 14:27
by Nick Bentley  


We checked in with some of the privateers at the Les Gets round of the World Cup to hear how they think the season is going from a privateer's point of view. The privateers I spoke to were still super happy to be at the World Cup and had some good ideas to make things better. Their voices just need to be heard.

Bodie Heflin, USA

How many races have you done as a privateer?


For World Cups, this is just my second. But I mean, races overall, it's been just the National rounds in the US for my whole life.

You didn't have too great of a situation in Loudenville last round, what happened?


No, unfortunately, not. It was a bummer. We showed up on Thursday, just as the schedule was lined up that was going to be track walk day. We showed up in the morning, like flew in. Then we're just going to track walk later in the day and got the email that there are some schedule changes and that there's a practice that same day. Unfortunately, we couldn't make it for that but that was no big deal until the following day when we tried to register at the normal registration time and found out that they had actually closed registration. So yeah, there's no way for me to register. We tried to talk to some of the UCI officials and tried to do everything possible to race and it just ended up not working, unfortunately. Yeah, I was pretty bummed. Just had to sit out on that one. It was pretty good. But yeah, we're here now and get to race here in Les Gets.

Was there any kind of communication that the schedule change meant that sign-on wasn't going to be at its usual time?


No. I mean, I thought the registration was just going to be at the same time really, I tried the day prior, but it was just going off the previous scheduled registration times and yeah it ended up not working out. The unfortunate thing was that they added a few riders on the elite teams to the start list. The main problem they said was that the start list had already been made and they said they couldn't add me to it which later they ended up adding more people to, which is just unfortunate.

It's not a great situation to be in, How did that make you feel?


I mean for them to make the schedule changes but allow it for a factory team but not a privateer. It was definitely degrading, it felt like they didn't really care too much when I talked to them about it. It just seems like everything's fitted for the factory riders right now because you know, if you went to the previous round you're obviously going to make it. But that scheduling coming in a day earlier for that race was impossible for us so there's nothing we could have really done about it.

Let's talk about Les Gets. How's it been actually getting to race?


It's been so good. It's been a week that I've been just wanting to get my downhill bike. Since we missed the last round I've just been stoked to get on the bike and ride the downhill course. Unfortunately, qualification didn't go great with the crash at the top but you know, overall, it was a sick weekend and we're just trying to get to these races and race as many as we can just to get this experience you know,

Whereabouts did you end up getting to pit this weekend?


We ended up having a spot that was pretty close to the lift so that ended up being fine for us. But I definitely saw where they're trying to put some other people I think, I think the Pinkbike tent was supposed to be by the lake.

That's another chairlift away pretty much?


Which is ridiculous

How important is it to you to be close to the lift?


It's actually so much more helpful than what you think. Just to have some tools close by and have a setup to go back and forth because it's pretty common that you go back to make some suspension changes or fix a flat tire. If you gotta pedal a mile to go do that, it's definitely cutting down on practice times, which are already short due to due to scheduling.
I heard some people getting three practice runs on the first day, and two the second day. I ended up getting I think, six total, which still isn't enough for me personally, and I think I had everything together so was early the start times.

You're here as a Privateer. Does that mean you're just here on your own or you got people with you?


I'm here with a filmer, my buddy Casein who works with Rooted MTB, which is just the team I'm riding for. So we get a little bit of budget and support from Specialized more to bring him over just to kind of support the series so that we can continue getting support at the races. And then yeah, some parts and tires and some bikes are there for us too. So I'm semi-supported. I still spent a lot of my own money to get here, but we do have some support, which does actually help out a bunch.

Do you have a mechanic here?


No, but I work at a bike shop. So I've got some of it figured out. But we're trying our best we got a nice toolbox here.

How important do you think it is to the World Cup to have privateers here?


I think it's necessary. The majority of these factory riders, Dakotah Norton came from the bottom really, that's someone that a lot of the US guys look up to, and he had years where he didn't qualify and now he's getting on the podium fighting for wins. So I mean, so many of these guys have started from a lower position and just had to fight their way up to the top and I think, if it's just cutting more to the top 30 I'm not sure how that would look with privateers trying to come up and everything.

Yeah, especially in the Junior class?


Yeah, absolutely. I think there's no other way to really do it for people. You have to kind of just do the privateer way for a little bit.

What about the experience? Is this your first time ever in your race riding your bike?


This is my second time. I was at Val di Sole for my first World Cup last year. Yeah, it was a rough one for the first track but yeah, second time in Europe and it's been sweet.

How vital is that experience of riding on different tracks?


Oh man, I mean especially on something like this track here. It's just you don't get to ride anything like it anywhere else. We have a pretty small national round in the United States now so we still get to ride some somewhat decent tracks but nothing compares to the riding here and I think you've really got to ride these a lot to get good at them and it's all about reps here. You can't get good at World Cups without racing them really.

How big is that gap from going from racing National Series to racing here?


It's huge really I think there are a lot of people right now working to come over from the US National rounds to the World Cups and it is that big gap where you do have to race a lot of them to get good at the World Cups. I mean, it can be pretty competitive. But yeah, like I said the tracks are just so different.

Will you be back for more?


Yeah, I'm hoping to be at Mont Sainte-Anne and looking forward to next year. Hoping to get to as many as I can really. I'm really trying to get to these European rounds because I think these are the most different than what I can get at home really. So yeah, focused on these and will for sure be at the North American rounds if there are any next year.

photo

Matthew Empey, Australia

How many times have you raced World Cups as a privateer?


This will be my sixth or seventh I think as a privateer. Yeah, maybe eight.

Do you feel the difference between the old regime and the new one as a privateer?


It's sick we're getting to race these World Cups, of course, it would have been sick to be racing downhill back in the day, when it looked like it was for fun, and all that, but things are changing and I don't think they're changing for the best for our situation. Like we're kind of getting shunned out of the picture. But, you know, sometimes you just gotta roll with it. And it is what it is, but it does suck a little bit, but there's always gonna be something else. So we'll figure it out.

Are you racing under a national jersey?


I'm not. Luckily, we do have a team we set up in Australia. A bunch of families all got together to help Juniors and bottom-level Elites come over. We're trying to support Junior riders and Elite riders, so yeah, I'm on a team.

How big is the gap between racing back home and racing at a World Cup?


Gnarly big. Like, of course, we've got really quick riders from home. But the level and intensity that you race at a World Cup, is you can't compete with it. At home, of course, we all go quick, but you sit around in the pits until your race run, over here it's like, Oo I've got to do a warm-up. It's just all that little stuff and makes a big difference.

Speaking of pits, where are you pitting this weekend?


I'm pitting out of my friend's backpack. But my actual pit was 2k away, something like that. But it's pretty close compared to Andorra. Andorra we were very far away.

How much of a difference does that make not being able to get to and from the pits during practice?


I mean, it sucks really. You can't go out and chill out. You've got to sit in the sun or sit in an awkward position. There are people everywhere. Like it does affect your racing a little bit. Like you roll with it. It does suck. But what can you do really?

How important do you think privateer racing is for the juniors and development?


It's so important. That's where the sport is. That's what we love to see. We come over here, we've got our underdogs, we've got our privateers and as an industry, we love seeing those riders coming through and like, "Oh my God, my mate got 45th today like he finally qualified" that kind of stuff. And I feel like that's getting killed.

How did you do today?


I'm happy. I'm not the quickest rider on the circuit but it's those small margins and I'm just stoked to be out here riding. It's been my dream to ride World Cups, so I'm here doing that. So I'm always happy.

Are you going to be back for more privateer racing?


By the looks of it, I probably won't be back next year for racing but we're going to finish off the circuit because why not? Might as well spend the money and have some fun doing it.

photo

Evan Medcalf, USA

Is this your first or second year as a junior? How's it been going?


This is my second year. Pretty good. The start of the season was a bit rough. Just getting into things, getting back into things. Started picking it up. In Andorra I got fourth, Loudenville was a bit of a hectic race and then just now third and feels great.

You're racing in one of the most competitive fields. Do you feel disadvantaged being a privateer?


A bit. It's hard getting up in like the top 10, top 5, just because everyone I'm racing just has that next level. So it is difficult.

You've got a relatively good pit here this weekend at Les Gets, but it's not always been like that has it? How does it affect your race weekend?


Andorra was pretty bad. I didn't even really use that pit. We used it as a parking spot and just that white tent we used. It was like three miles, uphill too. It affects your race weekend quite a bit. It's hard because you can't go back and forth because there's the time constraints. You don't have that much time. In practice already you're getting four runs. If you have to go to the pit you get one or two.

How did you feel after the cancellation at Loudenville?


I was pretty upset. I was very upset. I crashed qualifying morning. Decided that I just wanted to get down the mountain and qualifying. Got 19th, I think, and woke up finals morning, felt great. Wanted to get out there. It rained. So I was like, "Oh, this is a fresh start". Fresh day. Did a practice lap. I thought it was sick. Went up for a second. Cancelled it and I was bummed.

So what did you think of the track in your opinion was it ridable?


No, it was definitely rideable. Definitely rideable.

So from your point of view, kind is it is it feeling more difficult this year to be a privateer?


Maybe a bit. Yeah, I don't know. What do you guys think?

Yeah what do the parents think? Do you think from your side it's more difficult?


Slightly, yeah. I don't know. I can't really put my finger on it. But it seems like everything is just a little bit more difficult

And it still costs the same, right? It's not a cheap thing for you to do?


No, it's not it got more expensive. It seems as though they don't care as much about Juniors and also privateers.

Next year, you're going into Elite. What do you think your plan is for next year?


Yeah, I definitely want to race next year. I want to keep this going. I want to get on some type of team. Not sure what that's gonna look like yet.

How big do you feel the gap is between your national racing back home in the US and racing here, the World Cup?


I pretty much have no races back home. I live kind of in the southwest region and for last year nationals were in Winter Park which is a good track. A lot of people hate on it. But it was close. It was I think, seven, eight hours. That's close in the US! The Nationals this year are in North Carolina and Tennessee, which is a 20-24 hour drive. So there's not really anywhere you can race and the tracks just don't compare.

I think it's quite interesting to talk about it because then the blame is not just here at the World Cup. Like, Junior racing worldwide, probably isn't where it needs to be. Is that probably a fair thing to say?


That's fair.

How are you feeling about your podium?


I'm so stoked. I've been working for it, I've been wanting it and finally, it happened.

photo

Niall Clerkin, Ierland

How many seasons have you been racing as a privateer?


Privateer, well all of them so that would be like World Cups three.

So obviously there's been a lot of change here at the World Cups, how would you feel that's affecting privateers?


It definitely doesn't suit privateers at all like because there are some races where there are breakout riders coming towards the final and I think it sort of eliminates them now. because a lot of people will do it under the pressure of the final, and so now you've got the semi-final to even get in and then go again. I don't think it assists privateers at all. Even with the Juniors, I think it should be extended a lot more just to give everyone the fighting chance of actually on race day doing a good result.

What about like pit spaces and stuff? Where are you pitting right now? How much difference does it make being that further distance away?


From where we are right now it's about two kilometres away, and it's definitely not ideal. I'm lucky enough that I can use my dad's e-bike to get over so anytime I need to come up from the shop I can take the ebike out for some runs. 100%, it makes such a difference. I have to cycle up here with a big backpack on, we're sweating to get to the practice on time, like actually sprinting up, because I didn't realise everyone is queued up by 09:45 when it starts at 10:00. It's sprinting up the road. spending half the day worried someone is going to steal my van keys as there left in my bag at the bottom of the lift. Even though it does make a big difference, but you have to sort of play your own cards at the same time.

So if you've got mechanical you kind of you know that's your practice, right?


Yeah, definitely. This is my first actual race away without my dad. So even these boys helped me a lot like with the brakes and stuff like he's emailing back and forth. But no, it doesn't make a big difference.

So you're literally this weekend your mechanic, team Manager, cook, everything?


I'll tell you actually a funny story there. So this was on a whim to come out here. I start university in two weeks' time. I was like, Oh, I really want to come to these final races and I have a motorbike at home. So I sold my motorbike on the Wednesday and then booked the boat on Wednesday to get the boat on Thursday. So I literally just packed all overnight and then here I am. It's all good.

In all seriousness, that's the madness of what's going on. Right? You're racing under an Irish national jersey, right? How supportive is Cycling Ireland with you guys?


Not particularly at all to be honest. Like World Champs, they're cutting off a lot of Juniors. Even though they might not get the results, it's all about the experience that takes on the results in the future. Some of the people there today, I had fun and that's all that matters in my eyes to be fair. So I'm trying to get back into just actually enjoying it so much. But even for Cycling Ireland to get me here was tough, to get entered but I'm here now.

How big is that gap from racing back in Ireland to racing here at a World Cup?


It's actually insane, like back home we have local tracks which are amazing. I'm lucky enough to live right beside our local downhill track but they're like a minute and a half long. You come over here, like I was over in Verbier for this weekend just training. It's four and a half minutes and you're coming down and you're stretching your hands every second you get. It does make a big difference but at the same time, I love Ireland all the same. You can't complain but it takes a while to get over here to adjust to the difference. There are still plenty of riders from Ireland, it's not stopping any of us like you've got Jacob, Archie, Chris and Ronan. There are so many people coming through, even juniors like Callum it's crazy.

And that's where it's more important than ever right that you guys can get access to World Cup events because you don't necessarily have the home racing right? Does it feel like privateers aren't really welcome anymore? Or is that a bit extreme?


Maybe a bit extreme I say because like I think that nearly half the sport is the whole privateer scene, but bridging the gap of actually just being able to have the same experience at the race I think is the whole point. I think a lot of the teams are better off but you'd never get a good story if it was just all the teams. The whole story comes from people coming through.

Do you think things need to change to embrace privateers more?


Um, I would say so. Because even for myself, to be fair I didn't make it in there today in qualifying which is it's tough like it's insane. But for people coming across I think it just needs to be spread a lot more and I think it'd be way more interesting for people to watch to be fair and even on like the TV like the semi-final, I think if it was just opened up more especially the Juniors. The way the Elite is isn't far off, but like 25 juniors who ride the race when there are 90 competing. Even if there were 50 it would make it a lot better because those are the future riders.

Do you think you'd be back for more privateer races?


100% yeah. So I'd better get to uni and get working.

photo

Wyn Masters

I guess the main question for you is, were you a privateer when you were younger?


I was, yeah. 2008 I came to Europe. I didn't even have a van. I just winged it and tried to meet people and get a lift to the races.

I think it's probably the foundation of almost everybody unless you're really, really lucky right to be a privateer. How important do you think it is the whole series that they're here?


Well, it's just like, there's a lot of the top riders now that have come the privateer route to make it to the top. So it's to me, that is racing. It's one of the coolest things in our sport is that you can come here and race as a privateer. But it's getting harder.

I was gonna say, do you think do you think it's just getting harder and harder?


It's definitely getting harder and harder from a competition standpoint, but they're making it harder for those riders to even be here. They're almost getting the feeling they're not welcome sometimes. So it's not very good from that side. But yeah, it's sad.

You're doing quite a bit with privateers as well. How's that going? Is it going? I see your pit is always busy in the morning when people come and see.


Yeah, we help one privateer every race, and they get the full support from the team. And then we give away Continental tyres every race so been pretty busy on trackwalk mornings giving away tires and pit viper goggles as well. So it's been cool to try and help some people and it seems to be going well, we've had the majority of our riders into the semi-final, so it's quite good.

Yeah, it's good. For me, the biggest complaint I've heard for a lot of the privateers is all about pit space, and the fact they're so far away. Do you think an answer to that would be giving a dedicated area for privateers?


Yeah, I think a privateer-only pit space with quite a bit of space would be perfect. And that can take less space than one big team. So it would be good if they could do something like that. But at the moment, it doesn't seem like they really want privateers here.

photo

Dylan Conte, USA

Privateer this weekend in a national jersey? How many times you've been a privateer?


Oh, man, I started in 2012. I did my first one at Wyndham. And then I did two in 2014. I actually made it into MSA in 2014. It's my only one. And then since then I did last year at Snowshoe and MSA, and then this year at Lenzerheide, Leogang and this one.

A lot changed in the World Cup since you started becoming a privateer, does it feel different now?


For sure. I mean, I'm older so I'm not as nervous for sure. It's nice to like, kind of be calm and just enjoy it more than freak out about it. But yeah, it seems a lot more challenging for sure. Like, if you're a privateer, you are on your toes to you even get close to it.

I guess off the track it's not easy either, right? So where are you pitting this weekend?


I had to find a construction company, talk to the owner and convince him to let us park there. We actually have one of the more dialled pits, I can almost hit my car with a rock from the lift. But it was like begging and borrowing and it worked out well. But I gotta ride maybe 15 minutes uphill to get to the pit in the morning because I can't get a car.

How important is that kind of thing? It seems like a silly little detail being near the lift. But how important is that?


It's massive. I mean, I hadn't been to Europe for one of these up until this year. And I took one of our Juniors, Riley Miller in Lenzerheide and we showed up and I was like "Oh crap, I screwed up." We were scrambling to find somewhere to park.

That's like if you break a part in practice, your practice is done.


Yeah, game over.

You being a coach is kind of one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you. A lot of the privateers, or we see a fair few privateers in the senior Elite category, but a lot of these privateers are kids in Junior classes. How important is it that we keep privateers at the World Cup?


I mean, who was looking up to these guys? Like you're not gonna last forever. I feel old and I'm not that old. So yeah, you need the next round. You need a stoke group and you need people pushing the good guys. Why only are you going to have a couple dudes when you need that feeder system to push those that are already established.

Yeah, exactly. You're racing in a national jersey? Do you feel like USA Cycling is being helpful with it and helping make that happen?


I mean, I'm here. So yeah, they're the only reason I'm here. I haven't had points ever. I've always had just a few. So yeah, I'm super thankful. I'm sure I don't follow the other Federation's that much to know how much they're doing but there's always like I could complain but the same token, I'm pretty stoked just to have the opportunity.

I've asked everybody this just how big is that gap from national racing in the US to coming and racing here at the World Cup?


Oh, it is big. I would say I had a pretty awesome run for me at home, regionally, I would call that a top-three run. And I was 102nd maybe. So I'm pretty proud of that run. So we got some work to do.

And that makes it even more important, right that these kids can get that experience?


That's why I brought kids here this weekend. Like they're all first-timers. They're young and I don't think our goal was to qualify, I think our goal was to dip your toes in and just enjoy and see what it's like because it is so different.

How have all the Juniors found it?


I think a lot more smiles and a lot less stress than I expected to be honest, like everyone, I think had really good expectations of what they're gonna get out of it. I think everyone enjoyed it. So it's cool. I'm really thankful for that.

Do you think you'll be back for more privateer racing?


I hope so that's the goal. I want to keep on bringing kids and hopefully keep on doing it myself. I don't want to give up yet.

photo

Lucio Vellutino, Peru

How many races have you done as a privateer?


So this one is the fourth? We started in Fort William the first one.

How is it being a privateer here at the World Cup? Is it tough?


It's crazy. Yeah, for sure. You don't have that support so you need to do it on your own. You're your mechanic, your manager, your everything.

How's it been outside of the racing? So whereabouts are you pitting?


We're staying in our campervan, like 20 minutes from here. So we need to pedal up every day. If you have mechanicals you need to go down and then you need to pedal up again.

How hard does that make your day racing?


A bit hard, because you get tired pedalling up and down from the campervan. But if you have mechanicals, you just need to do it.

I suppose in those shorter practice sessions, you lose quite a lot of practice with that kind of issue?


Yeah, we do have not much time to do it. So if you're not close to the track, you lose a lot of time.

Coming from home in Peru, how supportive is your national governing body? Are they helpful?


So they just do the subscription, they don't pay for it. You need to pay for it, but they help us do it. That's the only way to race if you're a privateer with the country.

Being here at the World Cup, how different is it from racing at home? Is it a huge gap?


So yes, for sure. Being the Peruvian national champion and coming here for racing is actually impressive. It's really good to race with everybody. The level is another thing here. So at least coming back home, that level will be different.

How important do you feel it is to still be able to have privateer access at the World Cup?


It is really good because, for the people who don't have factory teams, it's really important to race here with these people and with these tracks. It improves your level a lot.

Do you think it also improves the level back home when you guys go back?


Yeah, for sure. Now we're the first Peruvians. My mate came last year to race Juniors. But yeah, for sure. We're like grabbing people to take them here. So we want people from Peru and South America to start coming here to race and improve the level.

How important would it be to you guys, if we ended racing downhill in South America?


It would be easier for us. But I like coming to Europe for racing. I just actually want to move here to start racing with these people, start getting to that level. It's really cool to be from Peru, being able to come and race here, and then take all the experience back home not just from the racing side but the culture too.

How many more rounds you're racing this year?


So this is my first year, my first World Cups. And we had the money to do just four. But my plan for next year is just to race a whole season.

How'd you do today?


I did okay. This was my favourite track but I crashed in quali. So not the best. But I know the pieces are there so we need to just keep training.

Do you think I'd be back next year?


I'll be back next year, for sure.

photo

Monika Mixova, Czech Republic

You race quite a lot under your national jersey?


That's right, because I don't have enough points to race World Cups under my jersey until I raced the World Champs this year. And even though I was like 29th, I think, I got enough points for that because in the World Champs, you get a lot of points. So now I could race in my sponsor jersey, which is quite important for me as a privateer.

So a huge difference for Privateer, right? And how is that process? First off getting a national jersey, is it as awkward as everybody makes out?


So for me, it is quite tricky because I could either get the points to, like fly to the Czech Republic and race Czech Champs and I could get points there. If I race British Champs, I can get put in the foreigners category, where I can't get any points. When I was racing in the UK, British nationals, I got good times in 2021, comparable to some of the girls who were racing World Cups, which made me think, oh, maybe I could do World Cups. And the Czech Federation guy was actually following my results based on the times. And he said, we will give you a Czech jersey to race the World Cup in Fort William last year. So he actually offered me he said, I think I'm good enough to race all the time. So he gave me the jersey for that. So it was actually his sort of idea. So that worked alright.

So it sounds like they're quite supportive.


Yeah, I think they are because I think it's not as difficult as in the UK. Obviously, there is apparently no one else who would race downhill in the Czech Republic. As like a woman. There are guys but there's no female rider who will be good enough to race World Cups. So even with two broken collarbones I managed to get the jersey for the World Champs

I mean, that's a bit crazy but it's important, for you to be here right to show the females from the Czech Republic that they can do it too?


Yes, I think it's quite cool that they let me race even though they knew that I'd been injured for a long time. And they gave me the opportunity. Like last year, I was just straight from work. So I haven't ridden because of work. This year, I was planning to ride more but I was injured. But in both cases, they gave me the jersey, and just let me race even for the experience of everything. So yeah, it is quite cool.

So how tough is it out at the World Cup as a privateer?


So I don't have any experience. So I found it really tough and I think I get surprised everywhere I go. So I didn't know anything. I don't have anything to compare it with if that makes sense. I found it really hard to even just get to the World Cup, to get from home with a full-time job, to get the money, I finally got the package together, I got a little bit of money from some sponsors and you finally have enough to race to go to Europe. Then you come here and then you realise, oh, they're not gonna give me any pass for my mechanic. It was just Mike my boyfriend, they're not going to give me any bib for the B zone, I would have to pay so much money for the parking that I can't physically afford that. I can either choose to pay for the pits or well, I probably wouldn't have money to race in the next race. So if you have a tight budget, it's quite hard. I don't think they want privateers here. But right now how the rules exist, you're allowed to enter if you have enough points I can enter. So I'm fully eligible to race. I feel like there's quite a bit of a gap.

Yeah, there's definitely a big gap. We're sitting in your glamorous pit right now. It's at the side of the road opposite a petrol station, and you're quite lucky as far as privateers are concerned. I mean, how have your pits been through the other races?


So because of the injuries, I've only managed to race Loudenville and this race. In Loudenville, I just turned up and didn't know where I was gonna park. We just parked the van in the normal parking and walked around town and found a field and we were there early, I think it was Monday when we arrived. So we just saw a few other campervans, so I went and asked a guy. So we parked on that field, it was quite close to the gondola, it was easy. I was like, okay, we're gonna park on this field, it was free and it was really close. It was a flat field, the privateer pit space would have cost me 460EURO for my Sprinter van and half of the awning not even fully out. Not ideal. In Les Gets it was quite stressful because I came here, obviously the whole town was shut. Every car park is closed, they were like this is the event you can't park here. And we came on Monday again and we found this place and I thought we'll just try to park here and see what happens. See, when are they gonna kick us out? And they never did. I'm literally three minutes from the gondola, from the toilets, wash everything. So I have like the best place off on the side of the road. But there's only 10 places here. A few other privateers, but that's it. I was lucky again, but I don't think it's worth the stress. So I learned that the pit space is not the same price in every event. So I didn't know that. So I tried to calculate it online on the website in Loudenville. But I didn't try for Les Gets and I should have because I've just learned that some people are parked for 120EURO. So I would pay that obviously, I would have money for that. But I didn't because I thought it would cost the same as Loudenville, but it wasn't.

Do you think it's just a lack of communication?


I don't know if it's me, I tried to find as much information as possible before the season, because I try to do some planning. Because if you have a low budget, you don't know how many races you can afford to do. If you've never done it, you genuinely have no idea. So you try to go on the website, you try to find out how much it's gonna cost, and you just don't know, I could not find any information until quite late. And by that point, I was already injured. I couldn't even go anywhere. The communication was just terrible, even on the race, like with the practice yesterday? That they cut the practice so short, and then they send an email like half an hour after the practice that that's the time when they're going to cut off the gondola. then the next day we were queuing at the gondola and there was this mix-up as well. It was B practice and A practice. And what happened to me, right, just for example, just a mess. Some organisers just didn't have the right information. This was the second practice yesterday. So they clearly said that gondola is gonna shut at this time. I came 15 minutes before the cutoff time. And the guy just said, you can't come up. I'm like, no. So I took the paper, which was on the wall, and showed him, it's quarter past, we have until half past, and we just pushed through and went up. Then he realised someone who spoke French told me, he just made a mistake.

Having said all that, though, how important is it to have privateers here at the World Cup?


So I think it's the base of the whole sport. So I've done only a few and I'm quite old and I'm just going here for the experience. But there are loads of young kids, like usually the dads with the juniors, and if this would be the first season or first World Cup, I think it would put them off massively. They would just never come back because it just cost so much money to do it. I think this approach, the lack of communication, the late information or no information, well there's this Whatsapp group but that's all you get, and I think it can literally create like a big gap. I understand they want the top in the sport, they will be there. There'll be the big teams but then you need the other people too. So where do you send them next? Everyone was a privateer before they were pro. You may be lucky if you're really good as a junior you might get an opportunity early, but a lot of people are not coming from the juniors.

A question you're probably quite unique to answer as well, because obviously from two different countries, how big is that gap from racing national series races to racing here?


So I've never raced in the Czech Republic. I started racing when I was already living in the UK. So the National Downhill series is huge. So there are some tracks like Fort William, I would say it's a privilege to actually race a British round on there. Big competition, but then there would be other tracks in the last few years, like Hamsterly, and that was a minute and a half track. So for me, you know, it doesn't matter but for the juniors or for everyone else who then wants to go and race World Cup it's not good enough. Some of the tracks I think. Because then if that's the last race you can do before you race in the World Cup, then there's a huge, huge gap. So I found it quite difficult. But also you have to go and race World Cup to learn. Like what I've seen today on the track is unbelievable. The holes and how the track develops is nowhere near like what happens with the track on the British nationals. Yes, it gets knackered Yes, we have some pros. We have quite a lot of pros. It's probably the closest series, I guess, maybe French cup and British cup could be the closest to the World Cup. It's still nowhere near how the track gets knackered.

Even with all the negatives are you coming back for more?


I would love to if I have enough money. But after this season, when I broke both of my collarbones and then missed half of it and only did 2 World Cups. I would love to do more, I just don't know if I'm gonna have enough finance and put together the time off work and all that it's just like a puzzle isn't it. So I would love to do more because I just love to learn all this. You can't buy this experience. You just have to do it.




Author Info:
Mandownmedia avatar

Member since Nov 28, 2019
243 articles

117 Comments
  • 92 1
 Pinkbike should start investigating and interview the responsible people from the UCI. We need to pressure them from all sides (media, athletes, brands, officials, fans etc.) if we want any change to happen.
  • 11 0
 Does UCI even respond to the media? Under so many articles (where riders and or teams were complaining about something) it mentions that the UCI wasn't available to respond. I can accept that mistakes are being made, but it is essential to be able to communicate.
  • 1 0
 @vinay: agreed. Communication is key.
  • 2 0
 Riders should have a proper Union to handle those issues.
  • 70 12
 Probably a hot take but: Privateers having a hard time at worldcups is not the real issue. The issue is that there is no other series to go for them to race and work their way up.
Yes, it's cool to do a sport where going to a worldcup is an achievable goal, but it's impossible to keep that going forever. A weekend is only a limited time and a venue can only support a limited amount of riders, at some point there has to be a cut.
  • 16 3
 That's not strictly true. There is of course the National Series in the countries, France and UK in particular, then there's IXS which is based in Germany/Switzerland and i think Austria, which is 'bigger' than the local/national events, so there's plenty of racing and series that the Privateers can and do go to cut their teeth and work up to getting into WCDH.
  • 7 1
 I came to comment on something similar. I'm not a firm believer in the changes, but I also hope that it could mean that national-level races get a higher caliber of entrants etc. and the trickle-down means the top level really is the top level. Take road cycling for example, there are national-level teams that have different licenses to world tour teams. Their races are great to watch and it feels more like the "core spirit" of cycling, whereas the grand tour teams feel more like a circus (a bit like F1 is to normal racing leagues). It does make the top-level racing better for the average viewer. I'm not denying that those lower-level teams/riders have a hard time making money though.
  • 4 0
 @weeksy59:
Yes it exists for some, but "plenty" isn't exactly the word I would choose for 3-4 countries having a notable series..
That's still a pretty small part of the world where competitive national series are anywhere close to world cup level. Even then, you almost always hear from riders stepping up to worldcups that there is a massive difference in the level of tracks and riding.
I'm not saying I have the perfect answer myself, but it feels like there is some space between world cup and national series that should be filled. There is a reason that many sports have multiple levels of leagues, it helps both the logistics and also gives people on lower levels a consistent chance to generate some excitement and notability. (And maybe filling the gap means strengthening the existing events and giving them more importance)
  • 9 0
 @weeksy59: There is a UCI Class 1 race this weekend in Verbier (IXS CUP) It's a short drive from Les Gets and they are usually well-run and fun races with UCI points available.

No one from North America has signed up.
  • 4 0
 @peytodog: I wonder if Brayton has signed up to get him the extra points to get back into the big show?
  • 2 1
 @peytodog: do you stay in Europe for another week or head home and try to get ready for WC in NA?
  • 1 7
flag KK11 (Sep 15, 2023 at 13:22) (Below Threshold)
 Boooo hoooo….
  • 1 0
 @mfoga: everyone has their own goals and program, but riding a few days in Morzine then getting another race in would be pretty good prep. You still have 10 days before Snowshoe.
There are mid level races available to get points. I would like to see more, but there is opportunities if you take them.
  • 3 0
 @peytodog: one costs more $$$$ one gets you back home saves $$$. Not saying it’s a good idea or bad idea but I can see a logical reason why they might not be signing up.
  • 48 1
 I gotta say, I don't wanna complain, but this was a tough read. A little bit of, like, editing the answers as, you know, editors do and your gonna get a much better article. Just sayin'
  • 8 0
 Agreed
  • 38 1
 I raced World Cups on and off from 2002 til 2012 and then went back this year and did Lenzerheide and Leogang. 10 years ago even at Fort William I don’t remember parking being that big an issue as a privateer, and it was absolutely no concern at all at any other race I did.

This year every other privateer and myself felt like we were second rate citizens who’d been completely disregarded. It was quite stressful , particularly at Leogang where we were being pushed from pillar to post in terms of where to park.

The lack of communication in advance on the ESO website was particularly frustrating. You basically had to turn up on the Monday before to figure out where to park because there was no info. You needed that time to figure out what would work before things got busy and security started checking vehicles moving on and off site.

It really did feel like they didn’t care about the privateers at the very basic level (I.e parking somewhere that’s within reasonable distance of the lift). And given the fact that entry fees apparently doubled compared to 2022, what more did riders get for their money?
  • 30 0
 Bodie Heflin's take was the most telling. They literally changed the schedule, didn't publish a new one and then refused to let him register... all the while making exceptions for the factory teams. It's non-sequitur but I used to spend a lot of time racing sailboats at a fairly high level. The classes I raced in typically had a mix of pros, semi-pros and full amateurs. Any changes to schedule or race protocol has to be published and made available for all sailors and announced. At a mid-level championship race once we had a race committee that was overwhelmed and under qualified and as such made a series of mistakes that influenced the results, mostly in the positive for one of their local hot-shots. There were quite a few protests against the committee, which really didn't sit well with them. Fortunately, the protest board has to be independent and unaffiliated, they sided with the sailors and threw out the unfair race. Maybe something like this is needed in the UCI, a unaffiliated protest committee that hears riders complaints and can overrule the UCI. It would never happen, but we can all dream.
  • 33 4
 Sad
  • 12 0
 They should ditch the semis and replace it with 2 qualifiers where the top 15 in each qualifier moves to finals. Riders who qualify in the first round advance to finals without having to race the second qualifier. That would allow people a second chance to qualify if they make a mistake and give a more exciting competition for mid-pack and privateer riders racing for the top 15 in the second qualifier.
  • 11 0
 Welcome to great world of Professional action sports racing. I am a AMA Pro Motocross privateer, and the AMA (American Motorcycle Association) does the same thing to us privateers. They do everything to help out the factory guys and give us 9-5 guys the cold shoulder. It really does suck, but to them the big names are the ones that draw a crowd, the rest of us to them are just gate fillers. It's a bummer but I doubt anything will ever change, at the end of the day it's a business and the top factory guys are their stars that bring them money so they will always cater to them.
  • 10 0
 That's why I've said for years more money in the sport isn't better. Athletes won't benefit. Companies will. I'm an evil corporate suit and even I say this
  • 7 0
 There is clearly a huge gap between someone trying to make it, and the pro teams. DH is the F1 discipline of the sport, but pits shouldnt be 2km away for anyone and forcing people to sacrifice time on the track vs bike set up. That simply isnt a level playing field. Road Racing in N. Ireland the pro teams and privateers are in the same pits, and often you see the bigger teams supporting the smaller ones with a bit of servicing and spare parts being shared, and Im sure the big names in DH would like to see more of that Logisitics like that need to be more important when choosing locations.I dont often read an article from start to finish, but I read every word on this one. Fair play to Niall highlighting the talent coming out of Ireland, Callum is for sure a ripper about to burst through
  • 9 2
 Problem is that they need to introduce interesting lower leagues or qualifiers to give visibility and allow incoming riders the possibility to earn a spot in a team and maybe make a living out of it.
IMO the WC is not the place. WC should hold no more than the 50 strongest riders in the world, to be among that group you need to qualify.
The FWT has been that way for a while and the FWT qualifiers are really interesting to watch, the level is pretty high and pretty much the strongest skiers make it to the FWT next year.
Seems like the UCI instead of being transparent about it, which is most probably their intention, are just trying to do it in a sneaky way to discourage privateers.
Same thing in XC and most other UCI MTB leagues. I find it hard to believe that almost anybody can participate in a XC WC, some of these people get lapped twice, they shouldn't even be there in the first place. In Moto GP, if you're not within the 105% time in practice, you can't even make it into the qualifier round, why isn't this the case in XC as well. The WC is not the place to grow, especially when you want to sell the product (TV) to a public that might not even my bikers themselves.
They need to work hard to make interesting lower leagues for athletes to grow and then be able to make a good living out of it once they make into the top layer.
  • 6 2
 Why WC can't be 60 or 80 riders? It was in the past. It worked. The riders were happy. We had way more variety of results. No dumb semifinals. The fan community was happy with freecaster and wide outside coverage. Good films.
  • 3 0
 You've pretty much described exactly how the current system functions. iXS , Crankworx and many national cup races are qualifiers. You compete in these races to accumulate the 40 UCI points required to race in WC. Some of these events are televised, others aren't.
  • 4 2
 @spaced: Did it work in the past, really. No one outside the top 30 ever got coverage. Everyone was moaning about the location of the Andorra pits last year aswell.
  • 2 0
 @Maxcommencemal: A question for Max. What if the WC was only Factory Teams? For a rider to get in they need a spot on a Factory Team. As a bike/spot becomes available the team promotes one of its national level riders to the big show. This would guarantee a fair playing field for every rider and help teams get the visibility they require to continue to invest in the series.
  • 4 1
 Max Commencal replying to Dick Pound is the highlight of my day.
  • 2 0
 Who is the they that is going to spend the time and money organising these events. The UCI doesn’t organise a single event. It’s certifies then and provides a few officials for doping control and audit. It is not a race organiser in any discipline
  • 1 0
 @sunshinetalus: It's not something I'm personally a fan of, but it looks like it's heading in that general direction. As I'm just another racing fan on the internet my opinion is no more important than anyone else's, unlike my extremely rich, tax exiled namesake.
  • 8 1
 Interesting perspectives and important information. Long live the privateer! And privateer media houses!

But where the hell are the PB editors? Grammar, syntax, punctuation, spelling… this was a nightmare to read… I’d say fine if this was published in the forums, but PB editors dropped the ball by publishing such unpolished garble on the front page. Clean it up and make it readable, help out the privateers! Or do they need to do their own copywriting and editing between tire changes and brake bleeds?
  • 15 9
 Unpopular opinion I guess and it’s heart breaking to read some of this.. but maybe the way to go for privateers is actually the national leagues. It’s not like they are any less fun. And if more of the top privateers would race in these leagues that would make them even better. Plus I guess being on the camera for 5 seconds duing semis does not do much to get you sponsors either
  • 23 1
 To learn to race at world cup level you need to race actual world cups, period. Of course is important to have a good national series, but not all the countries have them. So maybe France, USA and UK can have them but what happen with the people from Colombia for example? These people work hard for a long time trying to qualify and then one day everything click for them like the Colombian guy who shared the hot seat with a 5x World Champion for quite a bit and ended in 13th in Les Gets.
  • 5 1
 The national cups are already there and plenty of top national guys don't even qualify for the world cups because the top talent from their country doesn't go full speed on national races
  • 2 0
 You can't learn how to ride World Cup tracks quickly, without being at a World Cup. Even a IXS European Cup is so much easier. You actually need experience at riding the hardest track with the best riders riding it to lern how to ride these tracks. And you won't get on a team just by racing IXS EDC's. Pricemoney is ok tho for the first 3 Elite riders
  • 2 0
 @NicoOfner: So when they hold an iXS race at Maribor, what changes ?
  • 4 1
 @Maxcommencemal: mostly the pace. Is not the same sharing the track with a couple of top world class riders than with a handful of them. The more fast guys/girls you got on track that weekend, the faster the race is going to be and the level to beat. In a WC you got the B practice riders watching the fastest of the world from the side of the track and then trying to replicate those lines and keep with that pace. It just rises the level
  • 3 0
 It could be that I am ignorant, or haven't done enough research locally, but at least in the US there isn't a big unified national scene, and since the US is absolutely massive, a true national scene here would be like a race series that covers all of Europe, but with a huge area of land that divides the two portions of the country you could actually race DH in (sorry Midwest riders). It's just logistically difficult for riders here to race. I lived in Utah for a long time, a MTB destination, and there aren't really any DH races there at all, at least not that I could find consistently. Now that I am in Wyoming going to college again, I finally have the access to racing that I want through my collegiate club team, and it's all racing in Colorado. The US is a really weird place when it comes to DH racing, there are just little pockets of it, Colorado, California, the PNW, Tennessee, and up the Appalachians into New England. If there is more DH racing outside of those places please let me know, like I said before I might just be ignorant.
  • 7 0
 Imagine going from Dutch nationals to a World cup race...
  • 1 0
 @AddisonEverett: I don't think ignorant is the right word, that implies different things, but the UK/EU scene is HUGE and every single UK National race is fully booked in advance, usually within days of being released. A few have spaces longer, but still fill.
The grass roots scene in UK is strong with Pearce Cycles running DH series and that fills completely every single race too. The SDA scene (Scottish Downhill Association) also seems pretty strong in terms of entries.
I guess the difference is, our country is smaller than most of your states Big Grin Even if someone in the far south west went to Scotland, you're still only talking 14 hours driving... Which is a LOT... but that's as extreme as it gets here. The Vastness of the US makes it harder to have a National Series i bet as you'd probably have to fly between sites.
  • 1 0
 @zonoskar:

Bikepark Spaarnwoude is great but yeah.. that’s a leap
  • 1 0
 @weeksy59: The UK has about 30 million more people than the largest US state, California. Just FYI.
  • 1 0
 @AddisonEverett: it’s rad seeing the introduction and growth of the downhill Rockies series!!
  • 1 0
 @not-really: and that's about it.
The guys winning at iXS are the ones trying to get qualification/semi final at the WC races. It is literally the second tier.
  • 2 0
 @stormracing: I need to do more of those, same with the Rev Enduro,
  • 1 1
 @zonoskar: you would. You would goto the ixs or whatever the European series was called next
  • 1 1
 @Bibico: A North American series would be on the same level as a European series. It’s much easier for riders to travel round North America than the globe to do world cups
  • 4 0
 I agree that many places are currently lacking a strong regional league. But imho that’s BECAUSE in dh you can migrate to WC so easily. If the rookies were forced to prove themselves in strong regional series that would create much more interest in those events. As many others have mentioned, it works for other sports too
  • 2 0
 @zonoskar: "What's that thing over there?"
- "Oh, that's what they call 'mountains!"
  • 1 0
 @weeksy59: For sure, I mean at this point I exclusively race outside of the state I live in, Wyoming going into Colorado if not further, to race, but the weird thing about US DH, at least from mountain West states perspective, is that there is very little racing despite the huge popularity and the access to World class trails. Like I said, I went into wyoming from Utah, which has amazing riding all through out the Salt Lake Valley, and in Park City, Moab, Vernal, St George, Hurricane, Brian head, etc... But there is next to no DH, there's XC, and the occasional enduro, but practically no DH, California and Colorado have way more racing, but it seems relatively small, and I know there is a lot more DH further east in places like Tennessee and West Virginia, West Virginia having the only UCI stop regularly taking place in the US, and the scenes in Colorado and California seem a lot more local rather than national. Again I don't know everything about the racing all through out the US, so my perspective is limited, but the DH seems strangely small to me considered how much riding and mountain bikers there are around here.
  • 1 0
 @Maxcommencemal: basically the Track develops much less than at the World Cup. It is mostly the same track but for example the Maribor track at the IXS cup changes in 3 days as much as in one day at the World Cup. You really need the worlds fastest riders on it as well to have a WC race track. Also different lines get ridden in. It is very different to race, even when the track is the same on trackwalk day.
  • 13 7
 No they don’t want privateers there. Why would they? You don’t want amateurs at what’s supposed to be an elite competition. Problem is it’s ether small regional or national races or full on World Cup racing. There’s nothing In between for semi professional privateers learn their trade and make their name in the sport.
  • 3 1
 BNS, FNS, IXS, Crankworx....
  • 6 1
 It would be nice if the article would provide a definition of what a "privateer" is.

Not a member of a UCI MTB team?
Not factory sponsored?
Not getting housing, food and transportation costs covered by a sponsor?
Not getting named by your national federation for one of the spots in the entry list?
Getting no sponsor support whatsoever?

Example: Evan Medcalf apparently gets sponsorship from Evolve Racing. I have no idea how much support they provide. I know nothing about them, actually. But he's here, listed as a privateer.
Example: Matthew Empey gets some sort of sponsorship from Synergy 37. Again: No idea what or who Synergy 37 is or how much they help him out.
Example: Bodie Heflin is getting sponsorship money from Rooted MTB. As far as I can tell, they paid for him to be in Europe. (That's per their comments on Vital MTB.) He's a privateer?
  • 6 3
 None of those are from UCI registered Factory teams. They get some gear and maybe cash but no big f*cking truck, someone cooking for you, your own mechanic, people timing lines for you (this should be banned as it gives an unfair advantage) etc
  • 3 4
 @spaced: I agree they are not factory team riders, but they are professional riders being paid to race and be there. That’s not a privateer, that’s still a professional racer with different levels of spjnsorship
  • 6 0
 Evolve racing is a team started by parents to give their kids and opportunity to race world cups and have a pit space, and be able to race without having a national jersey. The do have some equipment help, but the parents are paying for most everything and are providing a fantastic opportunity for their kids to race. The parents mostly moms are the mechanics, drivers, cooks etc. They are definitely privateers and have done an amazing job the last couple of seasons.
  • 3 1
 @chrismac70: That's open to interpretation though isn't it. Does a Privateer mean they have to buy all their kit, shoes, bikes, grips, food, flights... ? Where do you draw the line. My boy gets shoes and pedals from Crankbrothers, kit from Saddleback/TLD, mudguards from Mudhugger, bars, grips, saddles etc from DMR, kits from Ridewrap and a bike from Privateer Bikes to ride and race.... but he's still a Privateer as me and the wife fund everything from the van to fuel, to food and race entries.. Sure he gets the trinkets above and we massively appreciate that... but that doesn't make him anything more than a Privateer with some perks ?
  • 2 0
 @krpduner77: IMPACT racing from the UK is essentially the same thing, set up by the parent of a racer and giving people a chance who would usually not get these opporunities
  • 1 1
 @spaced: "Banned"??? What the f*ck are you talking about? Life isn't fair and almost ALL of the big pro guys with support rigs, coaches, scouts etc. earned their spot to get there. Now the privateer pits being 2k+ away, total BS for sure. Someone sounds bitter.
  • 5 0
 @chrismac70: on these premises, there are no privateers in the circuit...
I highly doubt a dude/gal could be fast enough to compete at WC level without having been noticed by some local club/shop that gives him/her some support of some freebies
  • 1 1
 @weeksy59: I don’t know where the line is that’s why I ask. I’ve had similar deals ina different sport I the past and regarded myself as semi pro. I was never paid and had to fund my own travel. Equally I had obligations to the sponsors for the kit they gave me
  • 1 2
 @Becciu: That’s my point. What makes them a privateer then. Is it if they get a salary. Is it dependent on who is the sponsor? For example are the riders on the pb team privateers or not? They are paid but not on a factory team?
  • 4 0
 Privateers all get as many flow deals and as much sponsor support as they possibly can. Privateer doesn't mean Mom and Dad pay for everything, just that they are not on a Factory-level racing team. "Privateering is when an individual gathers his or her own sponsors and funds their season and their salary through the collective sponsorship of those partners."
  • 2 6
flag chrismac70 (Sep 15, 2023 at 11:29) (Below Threshold)
 @suspended-flesh: Using that logic the current female xc world champ is a privateer as she is on team ineos. It also means all the tour level roadies are privateers as they aren’t employed by bike brand owned or sponsored teams
  • 4 0
 INEOS (global petrochemical company) Grenadiers are a pro, 'Factory-level' TEAM. I didn't imply that they need to be a bike-making 'Factory' or a Works team. Privateers are not on teams that take care of their every need.
  • 4 0
 @chrismac70: i get your point, really.
But let's face It: if you have to sleep in a tiny van with five other guys and all the biker, eating shitty junk food for all the season, you can't call yourself a semi-pro, even if you feel like One. Ok, in a sport where some "pros" can't sustain themselves with their pay, you probably get your point, but even Bernard Kerr's dog have better accomodation than some of this guys!
  • 1 1
 @Becciu: I admire their commitment doing that. I wouldn’t that’s for sure but I don’t see why that is the UCI or the event organisers problem. Everyone looking for sponsorship has a a value that sponsors are willing to pay
  • 2 0
 @spaced there is nothing wrong with having people timing your lines. I'm a privateer (in national level XC specifically) and I have my friends help me with line timing instead of a team member like the team riders do. Just get one or more friends to help you. It's not unfair to have a brain.
  • 7 3
 Personally when I see the UCI or Olympics behaving in this way I have always quit watching and not giving them my time or attention or money. But some people really really seem to need to consume their product. I guess this is how they get away with treating people the way they do. And this is fine with their customers.
  • 4 0
 This article can bum you out, but I'm super proud of these racers. Dylan Conte from Vermont giving back to the next generation of racers. That is litterally the future of USDH. There is a lot we can do to support these racers, but the fact that some experienced folks are getting young riders in the mix makes me so stoked. DH does not have better ambassadors than these privateers.
  • 4 0
 @Deeeznuts is an awesome dude and doing an amazing job pushing the young privateers. He's getting faster with age but those juniors he coaches are chasing him on the way to their WC future. We need more Dylans!! Way to go bud!
  • 4 1
 For reference purposes:

hubris
/ˈh(j)uːbrɪs/
noun
noun: hubris
excessive pride or self-confidence.
"the self-assured hubris among economists was shaken in the late 1980s"
Similar: arrogance, conceit, conceitedness, haughtiness, pride, vanity, self-importance, self-conceit, pomposity, superciliousness, feeling of superiority, hauteur, uppitiness, big-headedness
Opposite: modesty
(in Greek tragedy) excessive pride towards or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis.
  • 6 3
 UCI doesn't want the riff raff sullyiing their image, only corporately owned, billion dollar a year minimum, ad revenue generating companies can apply. The privateers have always been the soul of the sport. We have always loved the underdog stories they have.
  • 3 1
 Brilliant Brilliant interview/article guys. My lad is a DH racer and racing Nationals and locals/Pearce/etc in the UK in Youth. His longer term goals are of course to make to to where he can TRY and qualify as a junior in WC level. We're not sure how realistic a dream that is, but this article really does highlight some of the battles for the youngsters and Privateers. Thanks lots and lots.
  • 5 0
 Chris Ballbag, the UCI and discovery create a beautiful plan to destroy MTB... It's working!
  • 2 0
 Professional sports don’t exist for the benefit of amateurs, sad, but where there’s money to be made, only those who gave money are given the opportunity to truly compete.

Do you all ever wonder, if all riders were to be given the equal access to the same level of support, would we still see the sane riders on top?

I don’t think so.
  • 1 0
 With manufacturers likely pulling the plug on factory teams the WC series may end up relying on privateers as that may all that is left after the shake down. - I hope I am wrong... but we have some dark times ahead of us for racing at the elite level.
  • 1 0
 It wouldn't be a surprise to see DH move to a similar type of format like Formula 1 or Moto GP in the future. Closed shop with 10-20 teams in the mix, maximum screen coverage for those teams and riders. DH2,3,4 lower leagues with other teams giving a shot to riders at earning a move to the "big leagues".

Cant see the lower leagues being viable to sponsors in the same way though unless Red Bull or other picked up coverage.

Tough one for privateers though! A lot of effort just to even get there and only get a few runs practice and packed up before the main event.
  • 1 0
 2 big takaways for me:
Local tracks to train on is almost totally dependent on local topography and economy, and this is where I really do expect travel times to vary to the point it makes training near impossible on different tracks.

Pits: this really should be solved. Like limit the whole weekend to 200 riders. All the pits should by the lift used to access the track. But I get it, the park wants that access for spectators, those that will buy the $25 burgers and shitty fries served at skip parks.
  • 2 2
 I agree but limiting the field will only impact the privateers and the pb community will be complaining about how unfair it is that whoever comes 156th in the men’s isn’t getting their chance at a factory ride for next year
  • 1 0
 Perhaps World Cup DH should go the way of F1. Limited number of teams with very limited field of riders each year. Then a new series is created where the goal is to find the best of the up and comers. They are trying to earn a 'driver spot'. Race coverage of the top level might be better. The highest level riders would not be allowed to participate in that alternate series. Race coverage of the alternate series could actually be better too, if someone like RedBull decided they'd take that on. Utter bullshit not letting the one rider register after changing scheduling. Such a simple thing to have avoided. Pits 2km away...simply create a privateer pit area among the main tents that is shared by privateer racers.
  • 1 0
 To put it into perspective there was 88 riders that attempted to qualify for this years Pro Motocross race at Redbud. There is 40 available spots, so roughly half will not qualify.

At a world cup nearly you have 170 attempting to make 30 spots. so more than 80% will not qualify.
  • 1 0
 Just really hope enough people like myself say screw paying to watch the UCI DH races next year for them to come to their senses since money is apparently all they give a shite about. Just so disappointed with were the sport is going due to marketing and bean counters that are dictating it.
  • 1 0
 Got to wonder if in this tiktok, shorts influencer world if brands even need race results to sell gear??

Because there is are national and local series here in Australia, I always figured the pathway was national ranking to ride worlds, go and race stuff like crankworks to start getting your name out there, then make it into a WC team if you start showing people you are getting up to a serious level?

Would be nice if the WC locals would race nationals/states/local when in town to show everyone the pace (this does seem to happen but not always). This is what happened when I was racing DH in early 2000's. All the WC names were at nationals it was awesome.
  • 1 0
 By no means is this example perfect, but if a simple model from ski racing is used there could be a clear path from regional to elite level racing. My background is a ski racing coach and the dad of an aspiring mtb DH'er. Without using too much space I will try to simplify this as much as possible.

Local Regional Racing - open fields
National Series - scaled back UCI point profiles developed. Needs to be at least 7 events. Placement advancement
NOR-AM Series - North American (USA-Canada) stepped up UCI points, series between the countries, quota of riders moves on to next level of racing
Europa Cup - Take existing National level racing, pick from each country, quota to next level of racing
World Cup - spots earned through a clear path / pipeline of racing that promotes long term development, enhances the sport locally, accountability, transparency... races should be worldwide.

Again, it is a simple idea. Also, as my son gets older and skill development (hopefully) increases, racing domestically, then continental and finally at the world level through proper steps, series, progressions of competition will help him and kids like him meet their goal of top level racing. The current system leaves too many people in financial stress, chasing a dream and banging their heads against a wall trying to figure out the next move.
  • 1 0
 Of course they don't want privateers there. It's a professional sporting event. Do you think the NBA or NHL wants and bunch of privateers trying to get on teams? There needs to be better leagues feeding into the World Cup series.
  • 2 0
 Just passing this along: I think Bodie Heflin's Rooted MTB's friend's name is Kasen, not Casein (although Casein' might be a cool MTB name).
  • 4 1
 Let's make a privateer-reserved series ! I'll personally support that approach.
  • 2 2
 How are you defining a privateer? Are the pb team privateers or not? Genuine question
  • 2 1
 They already have that. It's the local, regional and national DH races.
  • 1 0
 @chrismac70: Privateer=self supported, with sponsor help up to 100% of cost of the campaign, but no salary
  • 2 0
 Don’t watch. And factory riders will need to sit out in protest. Maybe then we’ll get somewhere with these idiot “organizers”.
  • 1 0
 They're going to have to welcome privateers with open arms as there won't be any teams left next season as Ibis and now Devinci have officially announced they're pulling out. Thanks UCI!...
  • 1 0
 I commented on the wrong article but still applies as we watch DH teams pull back from the mess Discovery and the UCI made of the sport.
  • 4 1
 Finally someone is telling the ugly truth Frown
  • 2 0
 Thank you for this. Pretty surprised it's even up here to be honest. Great job
  • 2 0
 I enjoyed reading Monika Mixova's answers. Lots of info and insight was shared.
  • 1 0
 My overriding sense is that the thing we all like about the circus has already been anhililated......gotta bring back the grass roots or the plant will die....
  • 3 0
 They pulled that $hit on Cru Jones as well!!!
  • 2 0
 Well, someone's gotta run WC DH, it's just a shame it's the UCI.
  • 3 5
 A few things.

Firstly what is a privateer? Is it anyone not on a factory team? Is it anyone who isn’t sponsored? If that’s the case there there aren’t really any privateers at these events? Are the PB team privateers or not? I don’t know, I think there needs to be some clarity around what a privateer actually is.

Do I think that the UCI dont want privateers at world cups? Probably not but that depends on how you are defining a privateer.

Then there is event logistics, take Les Gets. There were approximately 300 entires in the DH across the 4 categories. All need pit space ranging from a van and an easy up to the big rigs of the factory teams. Common sense tells you that’s a lot of space needed and with the best will in the world some riders are going to be along way for the lift or we are going to reduce the number of venues that an hold races if there is to be a requirement to fit in pit space for everyone acceptably close to the lift.

I don’t think thr problem is restricting the entries to the World cups to probably less that the 300 odd they had a Les Gets. The problem is how do aspiring racers get to the point where these good enoug get the places on the top teams. In addition being a privateer is expensive, especially if you live outside of Europe. For those who don’t make the top 30 broadcast ( that includes last year because they didn’t broadcast riders 60-30) where is the value for sponsors?

If, as many have suggested, we want a more global series with races on several continents then you have just rulled out another significant number of no factory riders who simply don’t have the funding to get round the world to compete.

The real answer has to be what can be done at continental level that is much more affordable for non factory team riders and provides a gateway to get noticed and to allow riders to show their ability. Most sports have this in place starting with national level, feeding into continental level and then world level. So how as a sport do we want to make this happen, how do this become attractive to sponsors to pay for? How does this become attractive for event organisers to want to put the time and effort into doing it? How does the UCI a credit these events so rides know that points earnt in these races mean something and allow for progression up to the next level of racing so the best do funnel into the world cups.

Until the sport can answer these questions then we will stay where we are
  • 1 0
 the real question is 'why do we even have to GROW the sport?' Just keep it like it is - it doesn't have to perpetually get bigger, expand, etc... Why can't it just be what it should be?
  • 1 0
 @jokermtb: so riders can earn a living, a wage, buy houses. There's not enough risk/reward for enough of the riders currently
  • 2 0
 @weeksy59: those at the pointy end, top 30, already are making that kind of money and more. Have a look at their company accounts at companies house for U.K. riders. The ones I looked at are making over 100k after all their costs and expenses for the season have been covered off plus any salary they pay themselves before declaring profits.
  • 1 0
 Bodie keeps saying "its unfortunate" when he really means "its total bullshit." Good job with the restraint though I guess.
  • 2 1
 Time to get a real job! No, you're not going to make a living riding your bike...
  • 3 0
 RIP World Cup EDR and DH
  • 1 1
 You know who the big winner in all of this is!? The FIA and FIFA!

The UCI over here just making those two pigshit orgs look like the Make A Wish foundation by comparison....
  • 1 0
 Privateers championships sponsored and broadcast by Onlyfans!!! Just kidding...
  • 1 0
 Sad reading but deserves attention for sure. Thanks to everyone supporting privateers, Wyn first of course.
  • 2 0
 fuck semis !! privateers are the real gold in DH racing
  • 1 0
 We need Steve Matthes to be the rider’s voice and deal with the UCI. That’d be fun!
  • 1 0
 This makes me wana throw my bike of a clif...
  • 1 0
 Keep the bike safe and throw the UCI off a cliff
  • 2 0
 Great article!





Copyright © 2000 - 2023. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv56 0.028543
Mobile Version of Website