2018 saw a shift towards the changing of the guard in World Cup downhill and we’ve picked out our top tips for those who will step it up in 2019.
There’s plenty of movers and shakers team and sponsor wise when you look beyond the big guns and the headlines. Many riders making the jump from Junior to Elite show serious promise, and some in Elite who are finally finding their groove.
Here’s our pick of who we think you’ll see on a World Cup downhill podium for the first time in 2019.
Former Team Wideopenmag alumni Charlie Hatton stays with the familiar setup despite an all-new bike with Atherton Racing for 2019.
A 14th in Elite at Fort William is definitely nothing to sniff at, less than four seconds off winner Amaury Pierron and just over a second off bumping Loic Bruni off the last step on the box shows just how close he was in 2018.
Sticking with a familiar setup with Madison Saracen for 2019, your British National downhill champion can clearly pull the run out of the bag when it matters.
Three seconds off the win in Lenzerheide and 0.6 seconds off the box at Fort William, despite breaking his wrist at the opening World Cup in Losinj shows what could have been.
2018 certainly wasn’t the year the man from Inverness would have wanted but sticking with Unno through 2019 means he’ll have a better measure of the bike coming into this season.
Top 20s at Leogang and Mont Saint Anne show that he’s got the speed when the runs go his way, but the top 10 is definitely where Greg belongs.
Kade Edwards waves Atherton Racing good bye for 2019 but sticks with the same bike courtesy of the same team name, that being Trek Factory Racing.
While things didn’t quite go his way at World Cups in 2018, he took both World and National Junior titles, proving he can raise his game when it matters.
The young Commencal Vallnord pinner had a complete opposite year to Kade above, winning five of the seven World Cups and coming second in the other two shows consistency that wins championships.
The stand alone races didn’t treat the young Frenchman well, but he’s clearly got the pace to make it count. He also has another year in Juniors to hone his craft.
We can’t think of too many better mentors to have for a Junior female downhiller than Rachel Atherton and that is exactly what Mille Johnset is lucky enough to have.
While Vali Hoell and Anna Newkirk might have been her nemesis all of last year, Rachel Atherton clearly sees something in the young Norwegian that has seen her join the new Atherton Racing setup.
Consistency is something Mille has show with third at all bar one of the World Cups proves she’s a championship contender.
2018 was a very good year for Vali Hoell. She won every race she entered bar the European Continental Champs in Lousa, but that will likely not stick in her mind too much.
A mere 5 seconds back on Rachel Atherton at La Bresse and with times that would have comfortably put her inside the top 10 in Elite, we expect Vali not just to make the podium but maybe push some very fast ladies for maybe even a top spot.
Former Team Wideopenmag alumni Morgan Tyrell heads into his second year of Junior in a very good place indeed. Top 10s in his first year will no doubt mean some on the box action in 2019.
Expect him to rocking the same Intense as Aaron Gwin and his cohorts as he represents the UK Intense Racing Team.
You may not have heard of Luke Williamson, but if he carries on at the rate he is, you definitely will. Luke pretty much won everything he entered in 2018 under the Atherton Academy banner.
Case in point as to the young man’s speed is his time at the Glencoe National Champs that would have put him in 8th in Elite and a second up on Junior National Champion Kade Edwards. Can he transfer that speed onto the World stage? Time will tell.
One of the three riders battling for the top spot in the Junior men’s World Cups alongside Kade Edwards and Thibaut Daprela was Aussie pinner Kye A’Hern.
Kye showed his pace early in the season with two wins at the first three World Cups, before two duff results at the final two rounds lead to a silver at World Championships. Kye also has another Junior season in hand before stepping up to Elites.
After bagging a second behind Gwin in Croatia and a fourth in Val di Sole, going by his qualifying results, Luca Shaw was going to win everything.
It wasn’t to be though, crashes and mechanicals plagued the man who so often would see all eyes on him as the last man down. We’re confident we’ll see the quiet Syndicate man win his first World Cup in 2019.
Thomas Estaque’s 5th place at Val di Sole was a diamond in what was otherwise a rough season for the Frenchman.
A 5th place qualifier at Vallnord the following week shows that he clearly thrives in the steep and rough, with finals runs landing him anywhere between 20th and 42nd proving he’s work to do on his consistency.
2018 probably wasn’t quite the year the Keswick Kestrel had in mind and was likely mostly overshadowed by his breakout year in 2016.
He’s bagged a podium before though, so knows what’s required. Any rider that consistently makes the GB Worlds Team must be doing something right.
Never outside the top 30 after his 3rd place at the opening World Cup in Croatia, Dean Lucas joins Scott for 2019 after flying the flag for Intense Factory Racing.
He’s got the consistency and was only three seconds off the box at Mont Saint Anne and at the World Championships in Lenzerheide.
Charlie Harrison was knocking on the door all of the 2018 season but couldn’t quite find his way into that exclusive club that is the World Cup podium.
Just a second off the box at Mont Saint Anne, the speed is clearly there. He didn’t finish lower than 20th ahead of that 7th place in Canada either. He joins Trek Factory Racing for 2019, so expect big things from ‘Chuck’.
Reece Wilson will be flying the flag for Trek Factory Racing after a stand out year in 2019. The last time a Scot stood on a podium in Fort William was all the way back in 2007.
He was only four seconds off the win and a second off the box in Val di Sole, and only five back from a podium at Mont Saint Anne. He was only four seconds off the win at his first World Champs too.
Reece joins the Trek Factory Racing programme for 2019. The force is strong with this one.