Your Essential Guide to the Cairns DH World Champs 2017

Sep 5, 2017 at 11:26
by Fraktiv  

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.

It's been 21 years since we last visited the lush rainforest region on the northeast coast of Australia for a UCI Mountain Biking DH World Championship, although it was only last year we saw the circus stop off at this venue for a World Cup round.

Nestled behind Cairns' James Cook University campus, Smithfield Regional Park plays host to the best-rider-in-the-world-on-any-given-Sunday competition, aka, the World Championships. The victors in the Elite and Junior categories will each take ownership of a prized Rainbow Jersey, signifying their own and their nation's glorious achievement as we hurtle towards 2018.

The area surrounding the World Champ's venue offers two UNESCO World Heritage sites; the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest, the oldest surviving tropical rainforest in the world. It's a stunning location for what will no doubt be an amazing weekend of racing, and the final chapter of one of the most thrilling seasons in competitive downhill mountain biking history.

Since we saw the videos of Troy destroying a dry and dusty Cairns track during the Southern Hemisphere summer there was no doubt we were going to witness something special. In the end it was a masterclass trumped only by the brilliance of the World Champion.

The track

World Champs Cairns Course Map 2017

How s your office

High speed straight shot through the jungle.
Uphill sprint number one. It s a punchy one.

Ah the whoops. They are a bit high right now. last time they needed to be shaved down.
It these rocks get wet this section will cause problems. We saw many a rider caught out here in the wet last time.

Remi Thirion was back in the hunt this week. he took a tenth place finish to move him ahead in the rankings.

Venomous creatures and vegetation. But apart from that, the track is pretty sweet.

In all fairness, the trail crew has been working hard to keep the wilderness at bay, ensuring that the well-known features haven't been swallowed up by the encroaching plant life. Long gone is the sharkhead starting gate (although the race organisers were on the lookout for it for this year), but the dirt and rocks are still the same, and the roots just as lethal.

Last year's 1.9km World Cup track started off with some nice looking berms called the Minjin Switchbacks. With some small rock gardens as tasters throughout, riders then have to face a substantial rock garden at speed. Once clear of the rocks the track opens up, although there are a few big roots riders would have to get over—lethal in the wet of course. Next up is a series of fast jumps, followed by that great nemesis of DH, a pedally uphill section, which always proves to be a great test of riders' fitness, especially in the humid conditions. A few turns later, riders drop into Mick's Drop and then straight over the Strutters (an intense motocross-style whoop section).

By this stage, riders are at the 1km point and after a big right-hand bend, they're halfway to the finish line. But here's where the track tightens, with the trees getting closer and closer to the track, exposing more and more roots as the weekend progresses. Riders will no doubt have a hard time finding the fastest line, let alone sticking to it at race speed. Soon up is Brosnan's gap which is a great spot for a cheeky whip, and time to catch your breath because right after, there's the big and relatively flat sprint to the finish, found only a few meters beyond the rainforest treeline.

What happened in Cairns last year?

In the latter half of April last year, Cairns hosted the second race of the 2016 season. The hot, humid air was welcomed by most of the field, particularly after a chilly and muddy Lourdes the race before. Although it was cyclone season, the track on race day was drying up, so much so that those in the know decided to gamble with tire choice.

It was plain sailing for Rachel Atherton in Elite Women, taking the win by seven seconds, ahead of Cairns local Tracey Hannah in second, with Manon Carpenter in third.

In Elite Men it was the traditional nail-biting stuff, with a few wildcards thrown into the top pack for good measure. Privateer Joshua Button (more on him later) was in the hot seat for a while, after a stunning run. Steve Smith was one of the main challengers but suffered a front flat which ruined his race—he still crossed the finish line in style, wheeling across it to a standing ovation.

It was then the turn of the defending World Champion; Rainbow Jersey on display, Frenchman Loïc Bruni aced his run and crossed the finish line ahead of everyone. Could this be his first ever World Cup win?

Three men had other thoughts… Mick Hannah, Aaron Gwin and Troy Brosnan. Gwin didn't have a good run and ended up behind Loïc, whereas the man with the home-advantage, Sik Mik, had an awesome run (for someone who was self-admittedly aiming for 10th that day), ending up between Loïc and Aaron.

The last man down was fellow Australian, Brosnan. He came excruciatingly close to Loïc's time, but the Frenchman had done it; he had won his first ever World Cup race.

Cairns 2016
Cairns 2016

The weather forecast

2017 Cairns World Championships Weather Forecast

General admission

Clear skies welcomed Cairns after a week of unpredictable tropical weather

Thousands of people fought their way through the jungle to watch the best riders in the world throw down.
Local entrepreneurs teaching the crowd about supply and demand. Simply set your price then supply some noise...

Tickets can be purchased online before the event, with daily general admission tickets costing $25.00 (adult), $15.00 (junior 10–14yrs), $20.00 (concession), $20.40 (local resident), $60.00 (family of four), or if you want access from Friday to Sunday, then it's $60.00 (adult), $30.00 (junior 10–14yrs), $45.00 (concession), $140.00 (family of four).

The organisers have made some big changes at the venue, most noticeably for spectator access. The dense rainforest made it hard work for fans to watch the action at last year's World Cup, and it was made doubly worse once the tropical rains came down, turning the red dirt into an ice rink. A lot of time has been spent negotiating with the Queensland government to ensure better access for the Champs, especially when the expected 20,000 fans turn up over the weekend to watch the action. A new spectator access trail now follows alongside the downhill course from the finish area to the rock garden, giving people a more convenient way to see the riders as well as better designed zones to increase safety.

Previous World Champ winners


World Champs Historic Results M 2017

World Champs Historic Results W 2017

Most successful World Champ racers


World Champs Medal Table W Individual 2017


World Champs Medal Table M Individual 2017

Most successful World Champ nations


World Champs Medal Table W Nations 2017


World Champs Medal Table M Nations 2017

Nostalgia corner

Views: 9,742    Faves: 13    Comments: 1

If you’re in the area

So far the weather is playing nice and we aren t complaining.

If you fancy a bit of riding while you're out there then North Queensland offers over 500km of trails, from Port Douglas in the north to Mission Beach in the south. Alternatively, if you don't have a fear of man-eating sharks or deadly stinging jellyfish, then you're in luck, as the Great Barrier Reef is on your doorstep. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its ecological importance, it's neighbour is the the world's oldest surviving tropical rainforest which surrounds the city of Cairns. Here you can take guided tours to see all the best spots or go diving, snorkelling or island hopping. There's also hiking and lots of historical and cultural sites to see as well as opportunities to learn about Australia's indigenous people's heritage, including seeing the 15,000–30,000 years old rock art in the Black Mountain (Kalkajaka) National Park.

Aston’s predictions

Aston s Predictions 2017 Cairns World Championships

bigquotesRachel Atherton didn’t have the predicted return to form I expected but she still shouldn’t be counted out of the running. I think she’ll take the third step of the podium. Myriam Nicole is on a high but hometown girl Hannah will be on a charge to take a silver medal in front of family and friends. Tahnee Seagrave and her Follow My Dream team’s goal has always been gold, which she has already taken at Junior level. I think this weekend will tick off the biggest racing goal in her life, propelling the youngster into maturity and a winning streak in 2018.

There's not only one Hannah from Cairns; 'Sik Mik' Hannah has his sights on this one and has proven he can take medals at this level in the past, and I predict he'll take a bronze in Cairns. Another Aussie, Troy 'Sandstorm-Hands' Brosnan will charge to a silver.

Gwin = Gold.
Paul Aston, Pinkbike's World Champs Forecaster

Previous podiums at Cairns


World Champs Historic Cairns Track Results W 2017


World Champs Historic Cairns Track Results M 2017

Rachel Atherton once again with a commanding win.
The step that had eluded Loic Bruni for so long eludes him no more.


Memorable moments

Cairns always delivers on memorable moments, such as in 2014, when Gee Atherton borrowed a fan's Five Tens because he felt the track's tight and twistiness in the slippery mud required flats over clips. Turns out Gee made the right choice. He took the win.

Flat pedals win medals. Gee made a last-minute decision to ride flats and won the race in borrowed shoes.

Then there's that time when Adam Brayton went a bit too gas-to-flat and ended up flying off the track and into a tree. A nine-inch gash on his shin and a raft of YouTube videos were his only prize that weekend.

Neither can we forget that when Brayton crashed, a keen spectator thought he'd do Adam a favour by taking his bike down the track. A real 'hold my beer' moment as the spectator decided to actually ride Brayton's bike down one of the meanest World Cup courses rather than what most people would have done and just walked it down the spectator access trail. The result was a concussion, a broken shoulder, and a broken back for our good Samaritan.

0% Loaded prev 1/16 next
Photo credit: Adam Bowey

As for more positive memories from Cairns, 2016 gave us the Joshua Button story. Having only started training for the World Cup race three weeks before the race weekend (and only doing so before and after work), the Australian Kona rider managed to get the fifth fastest time of race day, having a decent spell in the hot seat whilst we basked in the glory. Nine-to-five man Joshua took everyone by surprise. I guess there's hope for all of us sitting behind a desk right now.

Josh Button on the run of a lifetime. First week on the new bike first world cup in years and first podium... not bad for a wildcard entry.
Ladies and gentlemen welcome Josh Button.

The schedule

World Champs Cairns Schedule 2017

Time to tune in

Pinkbike will be providing you with the best daily coverage from our hardworking team of photographers in Cairns this week. There’ll be the usual stunning photo epics from the track walk on Wednesday, practice on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (as well Junior seeding on Friday), and finals on Sunday (Women Juniors 0930–1000, Men Juniors 1000–1130, Women Elite 1300–1400, Men Elite from 1400—local time/AEST).

For the Elite Women and Elite Men finals, you can watch the action live on TV on Fox Sports Australia or SBS, from 1255 local time. Alternatively you can watch the race online via various means, including the BBC Red Button and online (including iPlayer for the replay) from 03:55 on Sunday, UK time, or via the UCI’s Facebook page where they’ll also be streaming the race. Red Bull TV will be broadcasting the Elite XC and DH races in most countries—with some exceptions. We'll update this post as more information becomes available.

Here’s a breakdown of what these times mean in these main locations:
• 12:55 – Sunday // Cairns, Australia (AEST)
• 03:55 – Sunday // London, UK (BST)
• 04:55 – Sunday // Berlin, Germany (CEST)
• 19:55 – Saturday // Vancouver, Canada (PDT)
• 22:55 – Saturday // Washington DC, USA (EDT)
• 14:00 – Sunday // Auckland, New Zealand (NZST)

Note: Broadcast times are subject to change. Please check with your local provider.
Ed Masters wants you to watch finals no matter what side of the world you live on.

MENTIONS: @fraktiv / @natedh9 / @paulaston / @davetrumpore / @mdelorme / @Chamakazi


  • 97 0
 These writeups are getting better, and I really appreciate then, thanks Pinkbike!! Super stoked for this world champs, it promises to be a real nail-biter
  • 15 1
 Seriously that was awesome. I loved reading the charts about past World Champs.
  • 81 1
 Dear UCI, MTBA, Cairns MTB club or whoever is in charge. Please, DO NOT under any circumstances allow Australian SBS TV Tour de France commentators call the DH as they did last year when I was there. It is embarrassing. They do not know the riders, they do not know the equipment & I'm sure they were quite shocked to see we actually rode on dirt. All weekend they called the split times around the wrong way, even Rachael Atherton said she thought she was 6 seconds down when she was actually up. F*&king embarrassing. All weekend I was waiting for them to start talking about how many watts Chris Froome puts out.........
MTB in Australia has always been Cycling Australia's monged up Cousin, every family has one. You only see them at family get togethers & your parents always make you say hello, but then you keep your distance..........please just continue keeping your distance.
  • 7 1
 I know that Paul Van Der Ploeg is going to be one of the commentators, so there will be someone with some MTB knowledge. So hopefully it will be a better call.
  • 5 4
 It's not gonna be on RedBull TV?
  • 10 2
 @MTB-Colada: read the article dumdum
  • 37 4
 @mollow: I have minions like you to do that for me. Go read, and please summarize in a few bullet points. Chop chop.
  • 8 11
 @MTB-Colada: that's pretty much my point. How much time do you really save by asking people in a comment and waiting for the answer vs just reading the article for 5 minutes. What else do you have to do anyway you lazy bastard?
  • 11 3
 @mollow: Calm down. Was just pulling ur leg, and yes I should have read it better. I was busy pushing some paper in the office. Also fun.
  • 2 1
 @mollow: Article says Redbull coverage tbc dumdum
  • 43 0
 If the BBC don't have Rob and Claudio and get some other muppets in, I'm not gonna pay my TV license for the next 10 years.
  • 3 2
 Is it on BBC?!!!
  • 7 0
 @cunning-linguist: yes, detailed in the article
  • 2 1
 @cunning-linguist: BBC red button I think?
  • 3 1
 don't think they (bbc) would change the audio stream just to have their own commentators... or would they?
if there was a poll i'd go for a rob + needles combo though, the latter is getting pretty good at it, me thinks.
2 cents
  • 1 0
 @noisette: The stream from the UCI does not contain the red bull commentary etc.

From the timings it looks like the BBC stream will be around 5 hours long so it's likely to be a stream of the whole thing rather than the program style thing that red bull produce.
  • 2 0
 if its red button I don't think it can be recorded on sky+ can it? I am keen, promise, but 0355 on a Sunday morning is pushing it a bit.........:-)
  • 1 0
 @john260164: its replayed about 6hrs later too Smile
  • 1 0
 @harvUK: cheers for that i'll keep an eye on the schedule
  • 31 0
 If Hill wins, I will literally reach a Buddhism level of happiness, enlightenment, zen, chi, the works
  • 18 0
 Chakras will be lit AF
  • 2 1
 I heard he's racing his enduro bike too
  • 30 1
 Picture of stevie wheeling down the finish line missing
  • 20 1
 "I guess there's hope for all of us sitting behind a desk right now" Haha no there isn't
  • 13 0
 The United States better be one of those countries that gets live stream via Red Bull on Saturday night
  • 12 1
 seriously... most anticipated/hyped race of the year and theirs selective coverage?! unreal
  • 4 0
 @dustybikes: I have been checking the schedule for weeks to find no hope of the listing. Stupid app. I should have checked the website rather.

Thanks for the info mate,
I was about to purchase a license to NBC Sports Gold to get access.

Thanks pinkbike.
  • 1 1
 @whitebullit: I was way more excited for most world cup races this year than this. Probably has to do with the track.
  • 1 0
 @steveperry: you know that VPNs are a thing and a perfectly legal way to access broadcasts.
  • 12 0
 Greg Minnaar being a safe bet for a podium for 16 years now. That's what i call impressive
  • 5 0
 I'm still rooting for Greg after what happened to him the last WC race. He can do well even if he's not on Aston's list.
  • 3 1
 @vinay: that's because he isn't on Aston's list he can do well; no jinx this time
  • 11 0
 Got 1 more shift at work in the pilbarra (north western australia) then three planes to catch. cannot wait to get there and cheer everyone on.
  • 3 0
 Yeah, it's so close, but so far
  • 10 0
 The domination of the Alien and ACC still amazes me. I know tech/courses/training has changed but those two set the bar insanely freaking high. Nothing but gold.
  • 9 1
 Yewwwwwww! Its finally here! I wouldn't be suprised to see Sam Hill podium the DH. The track suits his style in that if you can hold the inside lines and not get bobbled off line and wide there's time to be made. Cairns Loves MTB!
  • 2 1
 He's definitely got the fitness, but idk about first race back from enduro where pinned maybe 90% all day to spread out energy to sending it full pin. Not saying he is slow. Oh HELL NO, just saying top dh guys are LUDICROUS SPEED.
  • 4 0
 And he's riding his trail bike ????
  • 3 0
 @hifiandmtb: OH SHIT!!!
  • 3 1
 That will make his inevitable victory all the more sweet!
  • 1 0
 Trail bike looks like an advantage on that course
  • 12 0
 Man I'm old. When did 1996 become 1980?
  • 5 0
 Around 2008. Wink
  • 6 0
 That video from 1996 was awesome.

Winner of the XC Thomas Frischknecht won the mixed category at the Cape Epic this year with Jenny Rissveds and is currently the Scott XC team manager.

Cadel Evans got 3rd at the U23.

Cedric Gracia got silver at the Junior Downhill.

Also José Antonio Hermida got gold at the Junior XC.
  • 1 0
 wow, those guys are now legends! thanks for the amazing info.
  • 8 1
 The season is just way too short. Still happy as drunken sailor but I know after this hangover it'll be long time before we shal see land again mateys, Aarggh!
  • 8 0
 LOL the nostalgia corner is in Portuguese xD what are the odds hahha
  • 5 1
 The track "Nationals DH " referenced is the wrong track. Worlds course starts above Nationals and goes down a different ridge on the rhs of the access road. Finishes in a completely different spot.
  • 7 0
 Thanks @Grug The team have rectified that.
  • 6 0
 Thanks @Grug. Trailforks map now updated.
  • 1 0
 @fraktiv: Sam Hill was 5 times world champion , twice as a junior if you count that and I believe it's significant then the Total makes is a fair 8 ! Wink
  • 9 1
 Sam Hill for the podium.
  • 5 1
 Goddam...Gwin has yet to MEDAL in Championships???!!! Talk about being overdue...please no more mechanical BS this weekend (for anyone if possible). I want to see a clean race.
  • 4 0
 Looks like here in SoCal Redbull TV has it scheduled for 7:55 PM for women elites and 8:55 PM for men's. May be riding a bit hung on Sunday! Gwinner!
  • 3 0
 Couldn't help but notice the time differences between 1996 and 2016, with the former being 2 minutes longer than the latter. However, the winning margins were much smaller during the era of Nico V and Shaun Palmer.
  • 2 0
 That's exactly what I thought. Either the track changed a lot, or the bikes just got ridiculously better (and faster).
  • 5 0
 Well, who needs weekends anyway?
  • 6 1
 Get rekt if you wanna swing a leg over Gas To Flat's rig.
  • 3 0
 The end of the season means the beginning of the season here in NZ & Aus!
  • 2 0
 Looks like only 1 real super rough section and lots of flowy trail with tight corners. Would riding a trail/enduro bike be faster, or is that even allowed?
  • 2 5
 sure its allowed. why do you think the Polygon team was testing out their new enduro bike with a dual crown at cwx?
  • 3 0

I think it is not the Polygon Square + DH forks But a new/different bike.
  • 3 0
 @YouHadMeAtDrugs: that's not their new enduro; it's a new DH built in the same suspension system as the new enduro. More rear travel I'm pretty sure.
  • 5 0
 I saw Sam and his mechanic today walking through the pits with a Nukeproof mega sporting a very flash paint job, carrying a set of triple clamps.... Wonder why they would paint their enduro frame unless they were going to use it. Lets see how many others forgo their DH sled?
  • 1 0
 @tastydirt: check Instagram, he already posted pics of the finished bike. Is he going Jared Graves-style (PMB 2013)?
  • 1 0
 so, the tables are turned in terms of live broadcast times for us in Europe. I guess, waking up at 6:55 on a Sunday morning to watch mens final is the perfect way to start my vacation, right?
  • 1 0
 All of the details for the world wide telecasts are here. FYI Redbull is doing the live stream online.
  • 1 0
 I'd like to know who's the local broadcaster in Germany...nobody knows. And the BBC stream won't work because of the silly IP localisation on the interweb ????
  • 3 0
 One more day of work and Im on the plane! Get me trackside
  • 1 0
 Crazy that the US hasn't medaled since Myles Rockwell's win in 2000, especially with Gwin having been in the picture as a stud for several years.
  • 2 0
 Brayton FTW! He'll smoke everyone on the uphill pedal, just needs to stay on track!
  • 1 0
 Looks like no red bull coverage in Canada? Tried the links. App said unable to load content. Leads of streams for a Canadian?
  • 2 1
 Day after birthday. There is a possibility this will be a struggle to get up for.
  • 2 4
 I'd like to see Sam Hill take the XC gold over a very surprised Nino Schurter. Or a short section of track right before the support area where spectators get to shoot paintball guns at the rider in the front on each lap. Either of those things would really liven up the 2017 XC scene.
  • 3 0
 Just spent the day watching the XC crowd bomb down jacobs ladder and fly through catapillars jumps. Was pritty friggin livly as is...
  • 2 0
 This is Greg's year! Again.
  • 1 0
 5:30 mins in 1996 and 3:20 mins in 2016?. have the tracks got shorter or have the guys got that much quicker?
  • 5 3
 Comprehensive write-up!
  • 4 4
 HaHa I wanna see a video of the spectator trying to ride Brayton's bike down the track!
  • 7 1
 I don't know if it's out there, but at the time there was video and it still makes me shudder to think of it. Gruesome. Guy just gets tossed like a rag doll across the moto whoops.
  • 1 2
 Yeah!! I want to see this too!!
  • 1 5
flag AmericaOnline (Sep 5, 2017 at 17:09) (Below Threshold)
thanks for that. sadly that looks to be the hardest part of the track.
  • 2 0
 @BiNARYBiKE: I realized I could have been more specific in my original comment I was thinking a video more like the guy making his way down the course slowly and sketchy not the nasty crash.
  • 2 0
 @Plunderpath: That was such a senseless move by that dude. No helmet is about the dumbest thing you can do on an MTB trail, never mind a WC DH course. He's lucky he's not a vegetable now.
  • 1 1
 Am I right in saying there is no Red Bull coverage of this event? If this is the case, does anyone know why?
  • 1 0
 Looks like they will. The event shows up on the schedule if you go to
  • 1 0
 @sino428: Thanks! It was not showing up the other day when I checked, hopefully the UK gets the broadcast.
  • 1 1
 The 1990 World Champs men results are wrong... Remember how HB cut the course in 1990!?!
  • 1 0
 Notice how the hope bike didnt break and it actually got trashed.
  • 1 1
 Samuel Hill
Was 5 times World Champion not just 3 times as stated here.

He had 2 wins as a junior Wink
  • 1 0
 Outstanding classic action!
  • 3 2
 I want Tahnee to get it!
  • 1 0
 iPlayer for the win
  • 1 1
 Forgot Stevie and Tracey on that list of most successful.
  • 3 3
 aussie aussie aussie oi oi oi
  • 4 5
 "Aston’s predictions" ahahahahah
  • 5 0
 Yeah I know, he's only predicted correctly 50% of the male and female winners over the last two years...
  • 1 0
 Wait seriously, 50%?
  • 1 0
 What's so funny? They're just his predictions, nothing more nothing less. Sometimes he's right, sometimes he's wrong. I think it's fun to see if he gets it right.
  • 1 0
 @hetfield1: I was laughing at Gwin ftw at world champ. 50% is not bad at all considering the number of potential winner (even more with women now) and the Fayolle effect
  • 1 0
 @fracasnoxteam: actually 46.6% (7/15 races), but I rounded up.
  • 2 0
 @paulaston: not bad, hope you'll be right for this one, Aaron deserves it
  • 1 2
 Why not introducing the teams
  • 1 1
 Who is streaming it?
  • 1 1
 Go Greg!
  • 1 2
 Minaar winning this would be so well deserved...
  • 1 1
  • 3 4
 Aaron isn't gonna win.
  • 3 6
 193m drop does not make a DH track, never mind a WC one...
  • 3 0
 try 300m
  • 5 0
 I am lucky enough to call this my local trail, while It's no Val Di Sole it is definitely a real DH track. The flat section at the end is a bit average but it is as technical as Fort William and much harder to ride than Leogang in my opinion.
  • 5 0
 i personally find even 1m drops pretty scary...
  • 1 4
 ^"INto the breach."
  • 6 0
 Henry V, Act III: "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; Or close the wall up with our English dead!" ...unless Wikipedia is wrong Geek
  • 2 0
 @fraktiv: Ha! You're right...I should have looked it up first!

Never mind me. I'll just show myself out.
  • 1 4
 Garbage track
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