We've seen almost more off-season action this year with team changes than we saw during the entire 2020 racing season, and the rumor mill has been buzzing pretty consistently since December. Now that the UCI has released its downhill team lists, we can take a look at all the team moves and try to anticipate what the 2022 World Cup race season might bring.
555 Raaw Gravity Racing
Luke Williamson, Ryan Brannen, Douglas Goodwill, KJ Sharp
555 Gravity Racing made its debut last year riding Commencals through a shop deal, but now Raaw has signed on to support the budding team in the upcoming season. That suggests that Raaw has a downhill bike in the works. With the new bike and the team's addition of reigning national champion KJ Sharp, it looks to be an exciting year ahead.
Banshee Racing Brigade
Adam Rojcek, Robin Novotny, Simon Maurer, Hannes Lehmann, Leo Freund
Adam Rojcek and Robin Novotny return to the Banshee Racing Brigade for another year, and this time the two riders will be joined by German riders Simon Maurer and Hannes Lehmann and Austrian Leo Freund. It'll be Leo's first time racing World Cups as he joins the junior ranks, while the rest of the team will be racing in the elites.
Canyon Collective FMD
Tahnee Seagrave, Kaos Seagrave, Dennis Luffman, Phoebe Gale
The Seagraves’ branch of the Canyon Collective will stay identical to 2021, with British up-and-comer Phoebe Gale now having completed her first World Cup season. The team's other young talent, Dennis Luffman, will be moving up to elites for 2022. Tahnee has had a few health problems throughout the off-season but is on track to be healthy for the race season, and Kaos will likely bring his signature style to some of the races as well.
Commencal - Schwalbe
Lluis Buide Castello, Pau Menoyo Busquets
The Commencal 21 team has been replaced by Commencal - Schwalbe, but will remain an all-Spanish outfit. Pau Menoyo Busquets has come over from Commencal 21 and will be joined by Lluis Buide Castello and new management for the same-same-but-different Commencal program. It'll be Pau's first season in the elites after a successful junior year that included a win at Leogang. Lluis Buide Castello is coming in as a first-year junior.
Commencal Les Orres
Lisa Baumann, Alizes Lassus, Jack Piercy, Antoine Vidal
What started as an enduro team led by the Ravanels has become a UCI-registered downhill team, too. Lisa Baumann recently made the jump from cross country to enduro and clinched the Swiss enduro national championship, signalling good things to come as she further crosses into gravity riding. She and Antoine Vidal will take on the elites, while Alizes Lassus and Jack Piercy will cut their teeth in the juniors.
Commencal / Muc-Off by Riding Addiction
Thibaut Daprela, Tristan Lemire, Hugo Marini, Myriam Nicole, Amaury Pierron, Gaetan Ruffin, Thibaut Ruffin
The wildly successful Commencal / Muc-Off team keeps all the same riders for 2022, plus Hugo Marini and Thibaut Ruffin. After proving himself at French and European events over the last several years, Marini will have the chance to step things up a few notches for his first year in the juniors. Team owner Thibaut Ruffin has been added to the rider list, so it looks like he'll continue playing a dual role of riding and managing. Despite a series of injuries and other setbacks, Thibaut Daprela, Amaury Pierron, and Myriam Nicole dominated in 2021 and they'll want to keep that momentum, minus the mishaps, going forward into 2022.
Chris Cumming, Ronan Dunne
Irish riders Chris Cumming and Ronan Dunne will take on their second Elite season aboard Nukeproof frames once again. Ronan Dunne took the first Wyn TV Privateer of the Week in 2021 at Leogang after placing 29th, then broke the top 20 with a 17th in Les Gets, so we've excited to see what this small but mighty team can pull off in 2022.
Cube Factory Racing
Danny Hart, Max Hartenstern
The formidable pairing of Danny Hart and Max Hartenstern is back for another year. Danny Hart rode to consistent top-10 results aboard his new Cube in 2021 and looks set to keep the trend going. His up-and-coming teammate Max Hartenstern put down a surprise second place in Les Gets, a career-best so far, and seems slated for more.
Dorval AM Commencal
Camille Balanche, Baptiste Pierron, Monika Hrastnik, Benoit Coulanges, Florent Dalvet, Alix Francoz, Alec Beolet, Damien Desbrosses
Most of the Dorval AM Commencal team will return for 2022, even after some speculation that breakout rider Benoit Coulanges could leave for a larger team setup. The two new additions are Alec Beolet and Damien Desbrosses. Alec is a relatively unproven French teenager who will enter the season as a true dark horse to follow in the footsteps of Florent Dalvet and Alex Francoz who did the same last year, while Damien Desbrosses has a few World Cup races to his name but will have the opportunity to pick up some pace with an official team this season.
Giant Factory Off-Road Team
Remi Thirion, Matthew Sterling
Jacob Dickson has departed to MS Mondraker, leaving Remi Thirion and Matthew Sterling to carry the downhill division of the Giant Factory Off-Road Team. Remi Thirion had his most consistent season to date in 2021, with three top-10 finishes. He said previously that his goal was to place consistently in the top 10, and he seems to now have that goal within reach. Expect Matthew Sterling to keep moving up, too, after his first season in the elites.
IJ Racing - Chiguiro Extremo
Rafael Gutierrez Villegas, Sebastian Holguin Villa, Alex Marin Trillo, Cristian Suarez
The separate teams known as IJ Racing / The Brigade and Chiguiro Extremo DH Team seem to have combined forces for 2022, with IJ Racing bringing Rafael Gutierrez and Alex Marin while Sebastian Holguin has joined from Chiguiro Extremo. Cristian Suarez is new this season, having raced mainly in the eastern United States and moving into his second year as a junior.
Miranda Miller, Noah Hofmann
Kona SGR has lost Connor Fearon, but has kept its other two riders from last year, Miranda Miller and Noah Hofmann. Noah is a stylish young ripper who raced both junior downhill and EWS events in 2021. With Miranda Miller focusing on EWS racing for the foreseeable future and Kona appearing to focus on enduro rather than downhill bikes, we'll likely see plenty of enduro racing from the team, but their registration with the UCI bodes well for the downhill side of things.
Madison Saracen Factory Team
Matt Walker, Harry Molloy, Veronika Widmann, Jordan Williams
The Madison Saracen Factory Team remains unchanged from 2021. Don't fix what's working, hey? Matt Walker (the northern hemisphere one) didn't manage to maintain his rapid pace from 2020 last year so he will be on the hunt for some top results this season. Harry Molloy raced mainly national and continental events instead of World Cup in 2021, while Veronika Widmann continued her successful elite women's campaign and Jordan Williams managed to take the last two junior wins of the season at Snowshoe.
Pivot Factory Racing
Bernard Kerr, Ed Masters, Matt Walker, Emilie Siegenthaler, Morgane Charre, Jenna Hastings
After putting herself on the map with a win at Crankworx this fall, Jenna Hastings has joined Pivot Factory Racing. She'll take on the World Cup rounds alongside the returning riders, probably minus Emilie Siegenthaler, who announced her retirement from World Cup racing last season despite appearing on the roster again for 2022. Morgane Charre continued her EWS success and will likely stay focused in that direction, though we could see her take on some downhill rounds, too.
Propain Factory Racing
Henry Kerr, Luke Meier-Smith, Remy Meier-Smith
George Brannigan has moved on from Propain, but the rest of the team will stay identical to the 2021 lineup. Luke Meier-Smith is proving to be a strong multi-discipline racer, with two top-20 results in his first elite year along with a U21 EWS win in La Thuile. His younger brother, Remy, stuck with just downhill in 2021 so it remains to be seen whether he'll follow in his brother's enduro footsteps, but regardless, both brothers have promise in either discipline. Henry Kerr also found himself into the top 20 in Maribor and will likely want to back up that performance in 2022.
Propain Positive Supported by Vee
Phil Atwill, Athanasios Panagitsas, Sokratis Zotos
The Propain Positive is an evolution of Phil Atwill's "free racer" program from last season, which allowed Phil to help grow the Greek riding scene while taking on the World Cup races supported by Propain. This season, two young shredders have joined the team - Socratis Zotos, who had support from Propain last year, and Athanasios Panagitsas, who is brand new to the program.
RockShox Trek Race Team
Vali Höll, Jamie Edmondson, Tegan Cruz
The RockShox Trek Race Team is back for 2022 but minus Ethan Shandro. Vali Holl got off to a rocky start in 2021, but proved she has the speed to win and is entering this year as the reigning World Cup DH champion. Time and racing will have to tell whether she's figured out how to fully harness her speed. Jamie Edmondson had a successful first year in the elites and had an even more successful U21 EWS season, having won more races than not. Tegan Cruz is another one to watch this year entering his first junior season and already having proven himself at the Canadian level.
Loic Bruni, Finn Iles, Christopher Grice
Specialized Gravity is staying consistent, with the same lineup as 2020 and 2021. All three fast riders have shown fast pace - Loic at the pointy end of the elites, Finn as a junior turned elite threat, and Christopher Grice as a junior who will now move up to the top level. Expect more of the same from this trio.
Trek Factory Racing DH
Loris Vergier, Reece Wilson, Kade Edwards, Charlie Harrison
New year, same team. The four Trek downhill riders rode to great success in 2021, with Loris Vergier finishing third overall for the season, Reece Wilson taking his first World Cup win, Charlie Harrison taking eighth at the first Snowshoe race, and Kade Edwards taking ninth in Les Gets. If the Trek team just keeps doing what it's doing, things will look pretty good.
Unior Sinter Factory Racing
Jure Zabjek, Zak Gomilscek
Unior Sinter Factory Racing remains the same as in 2021, an all-Slovenian team following Unior's split from Devinci. It remains to be seen whether the team will have a frame sponsor for this season, but the riders nonetheless put together some strong results in 2021. It would be great to see them find more support moving forward.