Pinkbike Primer: Everything You Need to Know Ahead of the 2021 DH World Championships

Aug 24, 2021 at 20:27
by Alicia Leggett  

Riding for the Rainbow Stripes
Who can battle the Black Snake?

Cross country racers have had their moment in the sun with the Olympics, but now it's time for the downhillers to have their most prestigious race. World Champs is finally here. It's the race where riders make it or break it, where they put it all on the line to battle for a title that's decided in just one race that rewards risk-taking over consistency. It's the race for the coveted rainbow jersey, and this year it'll be decided on arguably the best downhill track in existence.

Leading up to this point, we've seen some fresh faces on both the men's and women's elite podiums, but both the men's and women's reigning World Champions, Reece Wilson and Camille Balanche, will be back to defend their titles and have been putting in solid results this season. On this historic track, there will also be many returning winners - the last to win here are Laurie Greenland and Marine Cabirou, and both are about due for another. Danny Hart, Myriam Nicole, and Tahnee Seagrave have all also charmed the Snake, and Amaury Pierron announced today that he plans to at least try to race for the first time after being airlifted from the French Cup DH race.

The brutal course has delivered some astounding race runs, from the very beginning when Sam Hill lost it all in the last corner up through the years until now. Val di Sole has also given us a handful of first-time winners, including the winners of all four categories in 2019. We know from experience that we can expect a good one this year. Let's take a look at what else we anticipate.

The Track

A good day for Atheton protege Charlie Hatton riding to 12th in those trusty UK condition.s
The course is relentlessly rough.

The Val di Sole track is one of the most challenging on the circuit no matter the conditions, and no matter how many times the racers test themselves on it, it just doesn't ever get easy. Successful riders in previous years have been strong enough to not only hold on but push aggressively over the rough stuff. And with Val di Sole's many line choices that can make or break any race run, the course is as mentally challenging as it is physically.

Previous Winners

2019 // Laurie GREENLAND // GBR
2018 // Amaury PIERRON // FRA
2017 // Aaron GWIN // USA
2016 // Danny HART // GBR*
2015 // Aaron GWIN // USA
2013 // Gee ATHERTON //GBR
2012 // Aaron GWIN // USA
2011 // Aaron GWIN// USA
2010 // Marc BEAUMONT // GBR
2008 // Gee ATHERTON // GBR*
2019 // Marine CABIROU // FRA
2018 // Tahnee SEAGRAVE // GBR
2017 // Tahnee SEAGRAVE // GBR
2016 // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR*
2015 // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR
2013 // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR
2012 // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR
2011 // Myriam NICOLE // FRA
2010 // Emmeline RAGOT // FRA
2008 // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR*

Note, * denotes a World Championship race.

It s always party when there s a new winner at the Word Cup
Laurie Greenland and Marine Cabirou both took their first World Cup wins here in 2019.

Previous World Champions

Dreams come true.

2020 // Leogang, Austria // Reece WILSON // GBR
2019 // Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada // Loic BRUNI // FRA
2018 // Lenzerheide, Switzerland // Loic BRUNI // FRA
2017 // Cairns, Australia // Loic BRUNI // FRA
2016 // Val di Sole, Italy // Danny HART // GBR
2015 // Vallnord, Andorra // Loic BRUNI // FRA
2014 // Hafjell, Norway // Gee ATHERTON // GBR
2013 // Pietermaritzburg, South Africa // Greg MINNAAR // RSA
2012 // Leogang, Austria // Greg MINNAAR // RSA
2011 // Champery, Switzerland // Danny HART // GBR
2010 // Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada // Sam HILL // AUS
2009 // Canberra, Australia // Steve PEAT // GBR
2008 // Val di Sole, Italy // Gee ATHERTON // GBR
2007 // Fort William, United Kingdom // Sam HILL // AUS
2006 // Rotorua, New Zealand // Sam HILL // AUS
2005 // Livigno, Italy // Fabien BAREL // FRA
2004 // Les Gets, France // Fabien BAREL // FRA
2003 // Lugano, Switzerland // Greg MINNAAR // RSA
2002 // Kaprun, Austria // Nicolas VOUILLOZ // FRA
2001 // Vail, USA // Nicolas VOUILLOZ // FRA
2000 /// Sierra Nevada, Spain // Myles ROCKWELL // USA
1999 // Are, Sweden // Nicolas VOUILLOZ // FRA
1998 // Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada // Nicolas VOUILLOZ // FRA
1997 // Chateau-d’OEx, Switzerland // Nicolas VOUILLOZ // FRA
1996 // Cairns, Australia // Nicolas VOUILLOZ // FRA
1995 // Kirchzarten, Germany // Nicolas VOUILLOZ // FRA
1994 // Vail, USA // Francois GACHET // FRA
1993 // Metabief, France // Mike KING // USA
1992 // Bromont, Canada // Dave CULLINAN // USA
1991 // Ciocco, Italy // Albert ITEN // SUI
1990 // Durango, USA // Greg HERBOLD // USA

Camille Balanche deserved every ounce of that champagne.

2020 // Leogang, Austria // Camille BALANCHE // SUI
2019 // Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada // Myriam NICOLE // FRA
2018 // Lenzerheide, Switzerland // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR
2017 // Cairns, Australia // Miranda MILLER // CAN
2016 // Val di Sole, Italy // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR
2015 // Vallnord, Andorra // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR
2014 // Hafjell, Norway // Manon CARPENTER // GBR
2013 // Pietermaritzburg, South Africa // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR
2012 // Leogang, Austria // Morgane CHARRE // FRA
2011 // Champery, Switzerland // Emmeline RAGOT // FRA
2010 // Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada // Tracy MOSELEY // GBR
2009 // Canberra, Australia // Emmeline RAGOT // FRA
2008 // Val di Sole, Italy // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR
2007 // Fort William, United Kingdom // Sabrina JONNIER // FRA
2006 // Rotorua, New Zealand // Sabrina JONNIER // FRA
2005 // Livigno, Italy // Anne-Caroline CHAUSSON // FRA
2004 // Les Gets, France // Vanessa QUIN // NZL
2003 // Lugano, Switzerland // Anne-Caroline CHAUSSON // FRA
2002 // Kaprun, Austria // Anne-Caroline CHAUSSON // FRA
2001 // Vail, USA // Anne-Caroline CHAUSSON // FRA
2000 /// Sierra Nevada, Spain // Anne-Caroline CHAUSSON // FRA
1999 // Are, Sweden // Anne-Caroline CHAUSSON // FRA
1998 // Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada // Anne-Caroline CHAUSSON // FRA
1997 // Chateau-d’OEx, Switzerland // Anne-Caroline CHAUSSON // FRA
1996 // Cairns, Australia // Anne-Caroline CHAUSSON // FRA
1995 // Kirchzarten, Germany // Leigh DONOVAN // USA
1994 // Vail, USA // Missy GIOVE // USA
1993 // Metabief, France // Giovanna BONAZZI // ITA
1992 // Bromont, Canada // Juli FURTADO // USA
1991 // Ciocco, Italy // Giovanna BONAZZI // ITA
1990 // Durango, USA // Cindy DEVINE // CAN

What Happened in 2019?

The 2019 Val di Sole downhill World Cup race was an exciting one that saw four brand new winners in each of the categories. Laurie Greenland put down a stellar run to take the win over Loic Bruni and Loris Vergier, preventing the French from sweeping the podium.

In the women's race, it was Marine Cabirou who took the win by nearly 12 seconds over Tracey Hannah, who wasn't quite at her best for the race but who still managed to secure a second place. Camille Balance slotted into third, perhaps a hint of what was to come for her in the next few years.

The juniors categories saw Millie Johnset and Tuhoto-Ariki Pene also take their first World Cup wins on the gnarly track.

Elite Men

1st. Laurie Greenland: 3:37.819
2nd. Loic Bruni: +2.854
3rd. Loris Vergier: +4.882
4th. Amaury Pierron: +5.167
5th. Danny Hart: +6.849

Elite Women

1st. Marine Cabirou: 4:25.790
2nd. Tracey Hannah: +11.776
3rd. Camille Balanche: +18.324
4th. Veronika Widmann: +20.522
5th. Emilie Siegenthaler: +26.593

What Happened at the Last World Cup Round?

After crashing in the first two rounds of the season, it was finally Myriam Nicole's turn to take the top podium step in the elite women's field, committing fully all the way down the track and slotting in ahead of Eleonora Farina and Camille Balanche. Farina, for her part, earned a career-best second place, and Balanche continued to show up strong, having not finished a single World Cup outside of the top three this season.

In the men's race, Loris Vergier was the last man down the mountain and bested Thibaut Daprela's heater of a run with some flawless riding through the woods. The race was truly thrilling to watch, with all of the top riders showing up in their best form and giving the dusty, blown-out course their all. Vergier is only the sixth rider in history to take three elite wins at a single venue.

Elite Women

1st. Myriam Nicole: 3:35.909
2nd. Eleonora Farina: 3:37.231
3rd. Camille Balanche: 3:39.103
4th. Monika Hrastnik: 3:40.402
5th. Tahnee Seagrave: 3:40.406

Elite Men

1st. Loris Vergier: 3:05.064
2nd. Thibaut Daprela: 3:06.819
3rd. Laurie Greenland: 3:07.904
4th. Greg Minnaar: 3:07.986
5th. Loic Bruni: 3:08.078

Season Standings After World Cup Round 3

Myriam Nicole getting up to pace early but did not take a timed run
Myriam Nicole has moved up to tie the leader.

Thibaut Daprela has continued his strong performances despite breaking his nose and badly lacerating his tongue just a week before taking his first elite World Cup win at Les Gets. He has a strong lead for the overall, followed by Troy Brosnan, who took the win in Leogang, and Greg Minnaar, who is hot on Brosnan's heels.

In the women's field, Myriam Nicole won the last round and has moved up the rankings to tie with Camille Balanche, who now has a win and two third place finishes so far this year and has shown that she's right up there with the best of them, especially in the gnarly woodsy sections. Vali Holl follows in third, and she's clearly a threat for the top step once she finds a bit more consistency.

1st // Thibaut DAPRELA // FRA // 590
2nd // Troy BROSNAN // AUS // 353
3rd // Greg MINNAAR // RSA // 330
4th // Loris VERGIER // FRA // 316
5th // Laurie GREENLAND // GBR // 295
6th // Loic BRUNI // FRA // 269
7th // Benoit COULANGES // FRA // 269
8th // Danny HART // GBR // 266
9th // Max HARTENSTERN // GER // 226
10th // Reece WILSON // GBR // 212

1st // Myriam NICOLE // FRA // 560
2nd // Camille BALANCHE // SUI // 560
3rd // Valentina HOLL // AUT // 475
4th // Tahnee SEAGRAVE // GBR // 462
5th // Monika HRASTNIK // SLO // 427
6th // Eleonora FARINA // ITA // 420
7th // Millie JOHNSET // GBR // 242
8th // Marine CABIROU // FRA // 220
9th // Mathilde BERNARD // FRA // 167
10th // Emilie SIEGENTHALER // SUI // 165

Weather Forecast

The track changes quickly, with riders in years past having faced tumultuous shifts, from dry and loose to waterlogged and slick and back again. This year, the weather looks clear and friendly until Saturday, when there's rain in the forecast, though Sunday is forecasted to be pleasant. In case we didn't know it already, we learned last year at the absolutely batshit insane World Champs race that wild weather can turn our expectations upside-down and it's the scrappiest riders who will survive and even thrive.

Finn Iles finally put together the run he has been after all season to take 8th in the final just 2 seconds from the podium.
Rain could make an already treacherous course downright nasty.
Thursday, August 26 - Training
Sunny much of the time and comfortable // 26°C // 3% precipitation // wind 7km/h

Friday, August 27 - Qualifying
Cooler with times of clouds and sun; a couple of afternoon showers and a thunderstorm // 20°C // 62% precipitation // wind 7km/h

Saturday, August 28 - Training
Periods of rain in the morning; otherwise, mostly cloudy // 18°C // 65% precipitation // wind 9km/h

Sunday, August 29 - Finals
Pleasant with plenty of sunshine // 20°C // 4% precipitation // wind 13km/h

Weather forecast as of Tuesday, August 24 from Accuweather.

The Schedule

Just outside the top ten was Charlie Hatton.

Wednesday, August 25
• 12:00-15:00 // On Foot Downhill Course Inspection - Riders and Teams

Thursday, August 26
• 08:30-12:30 // Official Downhill Training - Group B
• 12:45-16:45 // Official Downhill Training - Group A

Friday, August 27
• 08:00-09:00 // Official Downhill Training - Group B
• 09:00-10:00 // Official Downhill Training - Group A
• 10:30-11:30 // Qualifying - Juniors
• 11:45-13:30 // Qualifying - Elites

Saturday, August 28
• 08:30-11:30 // Official Downhill Training - Group B
• 11:45-14:45 // Official Downhill Training - Group A
• Followed by 30 min On Foot Course Inspection

Sunday, August 29
• 09:25 // Final - Junior Women
• After // Final - Junior Men
• Followed by Awards Ceremony for Junior categories
• 11:10-11:25 // Official Downhill Training - Women Elite qualified for the final
• 11:25-12:25 // Official Downhill Training - Men Elite qualified for the final
• 12:50 // Final - Elite Women
• 14:10 // Final - Elite Men
• Awards to follow

Note: All times are local and subject to change by the event organizer.

How to Watch

No lack of speed on this track. You have to be on the limiter to compete here.

Pinkbike will be providing you with the best daily coverage from Val di Sole this week. Tune in to Pinkbike to catch photo epics, videos, and results from Timed Training, Practice, Qualifying, and Finals, as well as tech bits and news.

And if you live in one of the lucky countries, you can also watch World Champs live on The live DH broadcast starts on Saturday, July 3 at 12:30pm CEST. More information on that here.

Schedule: Downhill World Championships live on Red Bull TV:

Sunday, August 29th - 12.30 CEST: Downhill Elite Women
Sunday, August 29th - 14.30 CEST: Downhill Elite Men

(All times CEST, replay available immediately following the races. Times subject to change at organizers' and Red Bull's discretion.)

fantasy dh 2021

Fantasy League

Don't forget to complete your DH Fantasy team before Friday! Participating is way more fun than watching from the sidelines.

Pinkbike Fantasy Downhill League in association with Retallack.


  • 50 0
 mountain bikes
  • 9 0
 F*ck yeah, mountainbikes!
  • 6 0
 Bikes bikes bikes!!!! :-D
  • 3 0
 Hear this man!
  • 15 1
 Reece Wallace World Champ 2021?? You mean Wilson pinkbike come on!
  • 7 0
 OMG, this is going to be so confusing when they correct the typo. Maybe we shouldn't have made all those jokes in the comments everytime those two get mentioned in an article.
  • 11 0’s the wrong trousers Gromit.
  • 3 0
 Wallace Wilson?
  • 5 0
 Sorry to disagree but The Black Snake is not getting rougher year by year..the track that was 4-5 years ago was much rougher than what it is now..every year it’s gettin smoother and smoother..that’s no more the Pippo Marani track unfortunately..
Still one of the toughest but no more the original Black Snake..
  • 6 0
 Everything you need to know…

…except why the heck RedBull doesn’t have the US rights!
  • 1 0
 Same geo-blocking BS in Australia. One of the local channels have the rights and they don't show it live. Only highlights, maybe. Usually a week after the event and at 4am.
  • 2 0
 @JBW450: Hey mate, SBS have it this year and are showing it live. On Sunday they are doing DH from 2045-0110. Womens and Mens.

They are doing Shorttrack, XCO and DH live all weekend. I'm watching the replays of the shorttrack now, so they seem pretty quick oin the replays too.

Not Redbull commentators, which sucks though. So far some rando British guy.
  • 1 0
 @BorisBC35: yeah I know. Still disappointing though.
  • 6 1
 "'s and women's reigning World Champions, Reece Wallace and Camille Balanche"
Wrong Reece!
  • 2 0
 Who's tired of the rain-saga where the top seeds get to race in the Slophouse? Not sure of a way to fix that but when it rains the question of the day isn't how much skill you have, but whether or not you raced when the track was dry.
  • 2 0
 Heard it had turned to a bit more bike park. It May be good or bad, the best judge will be Sunday on the tv.
  • 1 0
 The interesting thing about world champs is there are four days of riding instead of three...that much shralping will turn anything into pure treachery.
  • 1 2
 Leading up to this point, we've seen some fresh faces on both the men's and women's elite podiums, but both the men's and women's reigning World Champions, Reece Wallace and Camille Balanche, will be back to defend their titles and have been putting in solid results this season. On this historic track, there will also be many returning winners - the last to win here are Laurie Greenland and Marine Cabirou, and both are about due for another. Danny Hart, Myriam Nicole, and Tahnee Seagrave have all also charmed the Snake.
  • 4 1
  • 1 0
 among the elite mens, I have 2 short cases and a pre roll bet on DannyHart. he is gonna resolutely murder that course..rain or shine!
  • 1 0
 I'm painfully aware that I need Flosports to watch the live broadcast... What about replays? Are those going to be available on RedbullTV in the States? Anyone know?
  • 2 0
 who's this Nicolas Vouilloz character?

Seems alright I guess.
  • 3 0
 a legend.
  • 1 0
 The fist picture you see. Freedom, speed and light. Such a brilliant picture.
  • 1 0
 Rainbow strips sounds like a chewing gum flavour....
  • 1 0
 Is Finn racing?

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