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UCI Mountain Bike World Championships 2011

Date range:
August 31 - September 4, 2011

September 04, Elite men downhill:

Hart wins first elite downhill world title

By:
Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor
Published:
September 04, 2011, 16:36 BST,
Updated:
September 05, 2011, 6:01 BST

Top favorites dab, slide out and crash

Danny Hart (Great Britain) on his gold-medal winning ride.

Danny Hart (Great Britain) on his gold-medal winning ride.

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Three years after he won the junior downhill world championship, Danny Hart (Great Britain) raced to his first elite title. On an epic day with torrential rains and a technically challenging course, Hart was the only rider to make his run look easy in the slippery, muddy, extremely treacherous conditions. Damien Spagnolo (France) and Sam Blenkinsop (New Zealand) earned the silver and bronze medals.

"I had a perfect day to have a track be technical, wet and in the pouring rain, and I had a faultless run," said Hart. "Maybe I made a few mistakes, but it was good overall. I saw I was leading by a few seconds and I thought, 'That has never happened before!'"  The young Hart has yet to win a World Cup.

Racing in the rain, which had started several hours earlier, Remi Thiron (France) set one of the early fast times at 4:01.754. It was good enough to hold up for 11th on the day, even though almost 30 racers came after him.

Brendan Fairclough (Great Britain) bumped up the best time to 3:55.124 and became the first man to go under four minutes. It was almost good enough for a medal, but fell just one spot short.

Then came the favorites, one by one, down the mountain. In the conditions, it was a question of where each would dab and whether they would crash, and if so how many times. The closer it got to the top 10, the harder it rained.

Defending champion Sam Hill, just recently back to racing after injury, finished a respectable seventh at 3:57.890. He did not crash, but a few dabs cost him some important time.

Spagnolo was next with a 3:53.688, and he took over the hot seat despite at least two slips during his run. Staying upright was key, though, as many of the favorites were making major mistakes.

"I think I had a solid run. In some parts, I was able to boost and go for it," said Spagnolo. "As with everyone, there were some scary situations. This silver medal means a lot to me."

Perhaps the most spectacular crash was that of Josh Bryceland (Great Britain), who suddenly found himself doing a superman through the air. He landed hard and slid far in the mud while his bike went end over end a few times and down over the side of the course. Bryceland had to scramble over the barrier and down the hill to retrieve it, then climb back up with a muddy, heavy bike, but he was not obviously injured and managed to finish in 7:52.919.

Blenkinsop had a good run at 3:54.982, even after coming almost to a stop when he got his wheel stuck en route. The run put him in second place for the time being.

"I'm happy to crack the podium. I didn't have a good run, but it was good enough to get on the podium. The track was good, and I had fun on it. The rain put a smile on my face, and I was feeling good at the start."

"I think anyone who rode today would say they didn't have a good run because of the weather and the track. I lost my front wheel in a turn and then got back on it from then. I stalled up a bit again later in the track, too."

Former world champion Steve Peat's turn came and went - he did not appear to be a contender. Then came Marc Beaumont (Great Britain), Justin Leov (New Zealand), Andrew Neethling (South Africa), and Brook MacDonald (New Zealand). Leov crashed, Neethling near went off cousre and MacDonald had a few dabs.

That left the top four. Hart led them off and put in a brilliant run as he carried speed easily throughout and made it look like it really wasn't that slippery. He was four seconds up at the first split, then had a bit of a fishtail, but managed to keep it upright and fast. By the second split, he was nine seconds up, and he had so much time to spare that he styled a few jumps near the bottom, much to the delight of the drenched fans.

"I come from England, and it rains every weekend," said Hart. "I saw a river running down the track at the start. I thought I'd try to ride to the bottom in the river. It wasn't as grippy in the dry, but it was grippy enough."

All eyes were on Gee Atherton (Great Britain), but it was not his day. He looked slower than Hart and was 10 seconds down on him by the first split. Things only got worse for the 2008 World Champion as he suffered two major crashes on the way down, and he was so covered in mud by the bottom, you could barely see the blue and red of his kit.

Second to last, Greg Minnaar (South Africa) took the start, but he too looked slower than Hart and was 15 seconds behind by the first split.

That left World Cup champion Aaron Gwin (United States), who was considered the favorite going into the race. He was within one second of Hart at the first split and looked on track for a good run, when his winning streak came to an abrupt end. He crashed at high speed and got caught in the course markings. By the time he had stopped and untangled himself, his medal chances were done. He finished 12th.

"I crashed and got stuck in the net for what felt like a minute," said Gwin after finishing.

Full Results

Elite men
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Danny Hart (Great Britain) 0:03:41.989  
2 Damien Spagnolo (France) 0:00:11.699  
3 Samuel Blenkinsop (New Zealand) 0:00:12.993  
4 Brendan Fairclough (Great Britain) 0:00:13.135  
5 Mickael Pascal (France) 0:00:14.642  
6 Marc Beaumont (Great Britain) 0:00:15.445  
7 Samuel Hill (Australia) 0:00:15.901  
8 Greg Minnaar (South Africa) 0:00:15.990  
9 Brook Macdonald (New Zealand) 0:00:16.932  
10 Fabien Barel (France) 0:00:18.294  
11 Rémi Thirion (France) 0:00:19.765  
12 Aaron Gwin (United States Of America) 0:00:20.422  
13 Marco Milivinti (Italy) 0:00:21.743  
14 Florent Payet (France) 0:00:22.131  
15 Matthew Scoles (New Zealand) 0:00:22.872  
16 Markus Pekoll (Austria) 0:00:23.707  
17 Steve Peat (Great Britain) 0:00:24.764  
18 Ludovic May (Switzerland) 0:00:25.320  
19 Lorenzo Suding (Italy) 0:00:25.335  
20 Bernat Guardia Pascual (Spain) 0:00:25.800  
21 Andrew Neethling (South Africa) 0:00:28.137  
22 Luke Strobel (United States Of America) 0:00:28.961  
23 Justin Leov (New Zealand) 0:00:29.010  
24 Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas (Colombia) 0:00:32.339  
25 Emanuel Pombo (Portugal) 0:00:32.489  
26 Marcus Klausmann (Germany) 0:00:32.791  
27 Antonio Ferreiro Pajuelo (Spain) 0:00:33.552  
28 Nick Beer (Switzerland) 0:00:33.911  
29 Benny Strasser (Germany) 0:00:34.332  
30 Nejc Rutar (Slovenia) 0:00:35.345  
31 Ivan Oulego Moreno (Spain) 0:00:36.429  
32 Timothy Bentley (South Africa) 0:00:36.946  
33 Logan Binggeli (United States Of America) 0:00:37.483  
34 Matthias Stonig (Austria) 0:00:40.592  
35 Ziga Pandur (Slovenia) 0:00:42.531  
36 Lars Peyer (Switzerland) 0:00:42.615  
37 Kazuki Shimizu (Japan) 0:00:43.313  
38 Marcel Beer (Switzerland) 0:00:43.384  
39 Michael Hannah (Australia) 0:00:44.077  
40 Attila Liszi (Hungary) 0:00:44.446  
41 Rhys Willemse (Australia) 0:00:44.605  
42 Duncan Riffle (United States Of America) 0:00:44.842  
43 Shaun O'connor (Australia) 0:00:45.898  
44 Chris Del Bosco (Canada) 0:00:46.875  
45 Andréa Gamenara (Italy) 0:00:47.458  
46 Ben Reid (Ireland) 0:00:48.403  
47 Rob Fraser (Canada) 0:00:48.430  
48 Zakarias Blom Johansen (Norway) 0:00:49.547  
49 Curtis Keene (United States Of America) 0:00:50.361  
50 Mauricio Andres Acuna Quintana (Chile) 0:00:50.935  
51 Nataniel Giacomozzi (Brazil) 0:00:51.010  
52 Gee Atherton (Great Britain) 0:00:52.272  
53 Mauricio Ernesto Estrada Pulgarin (Colombia) 0:00:52.439  
54 Johann Potgieter (South Africa) 0:00:54.381  
55 Manuel Gruber (Austria) 0:00:55.453  
56 Terje Nylende (Norway) 0:00:57.719  
57 Martin Frei (Switzerland) 0:00:58.710  
58 Walace Henrique Miranda (Brazil) 0:00:59.121  
59 Francisco Pardal (Portugal) 0:00:59.577  
60 Robin Wallner (Sweden) 0:01:00.728  
61 Seanan O'riordan (Ireland) 0:01:01.192  
62 Edgar Carballo Gonzalez (Spain) 0:01:01.724  
63 Mathias Haas (Austria) 0:01:02.630  
64 Remi Gauvin (Canada) 0:01:09.495  
65 Markolf Berchtold (Brazil) 0:01:13.325  
66 Miran Vauh (Slovenia) 0:01:19.731  
67 Andrea Mocellin (Italy) 0:01:20.141  
68 Oscar Harnstrom (Sweden) 0:01:20.741  
69 Marcis Scerbinins (Latvia) 0:01:23.676  
70 Greg Callaghan (Ireland) 0:01:30.424  
71 Mitch Ropelato (United States Of America) 0:01:32.133  
72 Scott Laughland (Ireland) 0:01:36.055  
73 Claudio Cozzi (Italy) 0:01:41.678  
74 Matej Laktis (Slovakia) 0:01:48.204  
75 Dominik Gspan (Switzerland) 0:01:48.321  
76 Daniel Pombo (Portugal) 0:01:49.035  
77 Martin Mikulenka (Czech Republic) 0:01:49.592  
78 Orlando Sarioglou (Greece) 0:01:50.329  
79 Matej Charvat (Czech Republic) 0:01:54.535  
80 Berislav Topol (Croatia) 0:01:59.264  
81 Arnaud Li Hing Fui (Mauritius) 0:02:02.771  
82 Matti Lehikoinen (Finland) 0:02:04.314  
83 Martin Hanak (Czech Republic) 0:02:23.077  
84 Valentyn Popov (Ukraine) 0:02:24.776  
85 Kristoffer Haugland (Norway) 0:02:25.060  
86 Matthieu Marion (Mauritius) 0:02:53.467  
87 Gerard Wolfe (Ireland) 0:03:17.758  
88 Erik-Lennart Purres (Estonia) 0:03:20.279  
89 Nikola Klacinski (Croatia) 0:03:30.545  
90 Frano Liovic (Croatia) 0:03:58.602  
91 Josh Bryceland (Great Britain) 0:04:10.930  
92 Nikolay Pukhir (Russian Federation) 0:05:17.826  
DNF Boris Tetzlaff (Austria)    
DNS Filip Polc (Slovakia)    
DNS Ruaridh Cunningham (Great Britain)    
DNS Dean Tennant (Canada)    
Teams
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Great Britain 271  pts
2 France 265  
3 New-Zealand 255  
4 South Africa 221  
5 United States Of America 215  
6 Italy 205  
7 Spain 204  
8 Switzerland 200  
9 Australia 195  
10 Austria 177  
11 Slovenia 151  
12 Germany 133  
13 Canada 127  
14 Portugal 122  
15 Colombia 111  
16 Brazil 108  
17 Ireland 105  
18 Norway 93  
19 Sweden 60  
20 Japan 57  
21 Hungary 54  
22 Chile 44  
23 Czech Republic 43  
24 Latvia 25  
25 Croatia 23  
26 Mauritius 21  
27 Slovakia 20  
28 Greece 16  
29 Finland 12  
30 Ukraine 10  
31 Estonia 6  
32 Russian Federation 2