Hart wins first elite downhill world title

Top favorites dab, slide out and crash

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) TeamResult
1Danny Hart (Great Britain)0:03:41.989 
2Damien Spagnolo (France)0:00:11.699 
3Samuel Blenkinsop (New Zealand)0:00:12.993 
4Brendan Fairclough (Great Britain)0:00:13.135 
5Mickael Pascal (France)0:00:14.642 
6Marc Beaumont (Great Britain)0:00:15.445 
7Samuel Hill (Australia)0:00:15.901 
8Greg Minnaar (South Africa)0:00:15.990 
9Brook Macdonald (New Zealand)0:00:16.932 
10Fabien Barel (France)0:00:18.294 
11Rémi Thirion (France)0:00:19.765 
12Aaron Gwin (United States Of America)0:00:20.422 
13Marco Milivinti (Italy)0:00:21.743 
14Florent Payet (France)0:00:22.131 
15Matthew Scoles (New Zealand)0:00:22.872 
16Markus Pekoll (Austria)0:00:23.707 
17Steve Peat (Great Britain)0:00:24.764 
18Ludovic May (Switzerland)0:00:25.320 
19Lorenzo Suding (Italy)0:00:25.335 
20Bernat Guardia Pascual (Spain)0:00:25.800 
21Andrew Neethling (South Africa)0:00:28.137 
22Luke Strobel (United States Of America)0:00:28.961 
23Justin Leov (New Zealand)0:00:29.010 
24Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas (Colombia)0:00:32.339 
25Emanuel Pombo (Portugal)0:00:32.489 
26Marcus Klausmann (Germany)0:00:32.791 
27Antonio Ferreiro Pajuelo (Spain)0:00:33.552 
28Nick Beer (Switzerland)0:00:33.911 
29Benny Strasser (Germany)0:00:34.332 
30Nejc Rutar (Slovenia)0:00:35.345 
31Ivan Oulego Moreno (Spain)0:00:36.429 
32Timothy Bentley (South Africa)0:00:36.946 
33Logan Binggeli (United States Of America)0:00:37.483 
34Matthias Stonig (Austria)0:00:40.592 
35Ziga Pandur (Slovenia)0:00:42.531 
36Lars Peyer (Switzerland)0:00:42.615 
37Kazuki Shimizu (Japan)0:00:43.313 
38Marcel Beer (Switzerland)0:00:43.384 
39Michael Hannah (Australia)0:00:44.077 
40Attila Liszi (Hungary)0:00:44.446 
41Rhys Willemse (Australia)0:00:44.605 
42Duncan Riffle (United States Of America)0:00:44.842 
43Shaun O'connor (Australia)0:00:45.898 
44Chris Del Bosco (Canada)0:00:46.875 
45Andréa Gamenara (Italy)0:00:47.458 
46Ben Reid (Ireland)0:00:48.403 
47Rob Fraser (Canada)0:00:48.430 
48Zakarias Blom Johansen (Norway)0:00:49.547 
49Curtis Keene (United States Of America)0:00:50.361 
50Mauricio Andres Acuna Quintana (Chile)0:00:50.935 
51Nataniel Giacomozzi (Brazil)0:00:51.010 
52Gee Atherton (Great Britain)0:00:52.272 
53Mauricio Ernesto Estrada Pulgarin (Colombia)0:00:52.439 
54Johann Potgieter (South Africa)0:00:54.381 
55Manuel Gruber (Austria)0:00:55.453 
56Terje Nylende (Norway)0:00:57.719 
57Martin Frei (Switzerland)0:00:58.710 
58Walace Henrique Miranda (Brazil)0:00:59.121 
59Francisco Pardal (Portugal)0:00:59.577 
60Robin Wallner (Sweden)0:01:00.728 
61Seanan O'riordan (Ireland)0:01:01.192 
62Edgar Carballo Gonzalez (Spain)0:01:01.724 
63Mathias Haas (Austria)0:01:02.630 
64Remi Gauvin (Canada)0:01:09.495 
65Markolf Berchtold (Brazil)0:01:13.325 
66Miran Vauh (Slovenia)0:01:19.731 
67Andrea Mocellin (Italy)0:01:20.141 
68Oscar Harnstrom (Sweden)0:01:20.741 
69Marcis Scerbinins (Latvia)0:01:23.676 
70Greg Callaghan (Ireland)0:01:30.424 
71Mitch Ropelato (United States Of America)0:01:32.133 
72Scott Laughland (Ireland)0:01:36.055 
73Claudio Cozzi (Italy)0:01:41.678 
74Matej Laktis (Slovakia)0:01:48.204 
75Dominik Gspan (Switzerland)0:01:48.321 
76Daniel Pombo (Portugal)0:01:49.035 
77Martin Mikulenka (Czech Republic)0:01:49.592 
78Orlando Sarioglou (Greece)0:01:50.329 
79Matej Charvat (Czech Republic)0:01:54.535 
80Berislav Topol (Croatia)0:01:59.264 
81Arnaud Li Hing Fui (Mauritius)0:02:02.771 
82Matti Lehikoinen (Finland)0:02:04.314 
83Martin Hanak (Czech Republic)0:02:23.077 
84Valentyn Popov (Ukraine)0:02:24.776 
85Kristoffer Haugland (Norway)0:02:25.060 
86Matthieu Marion (Mauritius)0:02:53.467 
87Gerard Wolfe (Ireland)0:03:17.758 
88Erik-Lennart Purres (Estonia)0:03:20.279 
89Nikola Klacinski (Croatia)0:03:30.545 
90Frano Liovic (Croatia)0:03:58.602 
91Josh Bryceland (Great Britain)0:04:10.930 
92Nikolay Pukhir (Russian Federation)0:05:17.826 
DNFBoris Tetzlaff (Austria)  
DNSFilip Polc (Slovakia)  
DNSRuaridh Cunningham (Great Britain)  
DNSDean Tennant (Canada)  
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Great Britain271 pts
4South Africa221 
5United States Of America215 
23Czech Republic43 
32Russian Federation2 


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