MTB 2016 UCI Mountain Bike DH World Championships
Canada's Iles Takes Historic Win Manson Claims Silver
The 2016 UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Championships were hosted in Val di Sole, Italy, Sept. 6-11. Rachel Atherton (GBR) capped a perfect season by successfully defending the Elite women's title, while Danny Hart (GBR) won the Elite men's rainbow jersey. In the junior categories, Canadian phenom Finnley Iles (CAN) won the men's, with host Italy's Alessia Missiaggia winning the junior women's title.
The junior men saw an incredible 1-2 finish for Canada, with World Cup champion Iles the only rider to go less than three minutes and 50 seconds at 3:47.405 for an amazing historic win for Canada. To make it even sweeter, his compatriot Magnus Manson took the silver medal at 3.796 seconds back, followed by France's Gaetan Vigier at 4.610 seconds. Canada's Henry Fitzgerald finished 29th, while Adam Robbins was 55th.
“It's just amazing. This whole week's been hectic and to come down with a good time like that – I'm just over the moon. Canada 1-2 is the best we could have hoped for this year,” commented Iles, who won the World Cup overall title as well for another Canadian first.
Manson's phenomenal podium run was a career-best result, as well as a historic finish for Canada at the DH Worlds. “It feels great to share the podium with Finn . . . it's been a long time coming,” said Manson.
In the junior women's competition, Missiaggia (ITA) was by far the fastest, finishing 11.946 seconds ahead of Samantha Kingshill (USA), with Flora Lesoin (FRA) in third at 25.960 seconds.
Atherton (GBR) was on an unprecedented winning streak, with 13 consecutive World Cup wins, including sweeping the 2016 series, her second straight World title, the fourth of her career. Atherton was the fastest everywhere on the rough, dusty track, leading at both intermediate splits and finishing with a time of four minutes and 20.187 seconds.
Manon Carpenter (GBR), starting second from last, crashed in the first turn, taking her out of podium contention. Myriam Nicole (FRA), who had been occupying the hot seat for a long time, held the spot until the final rider, Atherton (GBR) came down 3.114 seconds faster. Tracey Hannah (AUS) repeated in third place.
“I cannot actually believe it,” said Atherton, “I was like, `I'm sure Tracey will win; she was just riding so good in the dry dust.' I thought, `Throw it to the wind.' I just didn't care if I crashed, I've had such a good year. This track is wild, absolutely mad. You just can't ride it, you just have to go. You can't even ride it – you just fall, a controlled fall all the way down. It's just so rad-like. Racing is mad. You just switch on – there's nothing else like it. I wish everyone could experience it.”
With a solid run, Canada's Miranda Miller just made it into the top 10 placing a strong 10th, while fellow Canuck Georgia Astle finished 13th.
Former junior world champion Laurie Greenland (GBR), riding with 20 cyclists to go, was the first to beat the seeding run time of Danny Hart (GBR), and continued to hold the lead as the top-10 began their runs. At five riders to go, Loic Bruni (FRA), the defending world champion, punctured partway down.
Finally, it was Hart's turn. He came into the Championships with three consecutive World Cup wins, and continued the streak when it counted, blazing into the lead in Val di Sole, fastest on all points of the course, to take the lead by nearly three seconds. World Cup champion Aaron Gwin (USA), the final starter, flatted shortly after the start, allowing Hart to claim his second World title, followed by Greenland and Florent Payet (FRA). For Hart, 2016 was an astonishing comeback, having struggled with his performance ever since blasting to his first rainbow jersey in 2011.
“After the year I've had, I could believe it [was possible to win],” said Hart. “I've been working hard and this has always been a big goal of mine, but I took the pressure off this week. I thought, `Well, I've won the last three World Cups, let's just ride the course and see what happens' . . . . and I took the win.
“The last few months have been massive, because the last five years [since his World title in 2011] has just been a pain. I'm thinking `What's going on here? Why can't I get back to it?' And then it all came at once. Just getting back to where I was has been a hard mission. All those saying I'm a one-hit wonder – well I've done it four times in a row and there's not many done that.”
Three Canadians were on the start line as Mark Wallace put down a strong run, finishing 11th, while reigning Canadian DH champion Kirk McDowell placed 27th and Max Scharf was 50th.
(above) Historic junior men’s DH Worlds podium (l-r): Magnus Manson (CAN) 2nd, Finnley Iles (CAN) 1st, Gaetan Vigier (FRA) 3rd
(left) Canada's Miranda Miller took home a solid 10th-place
in the Elite women’s race.