2014 Downhill World Cup #6: Ratboy does it again!

George Gore Browne reports from Windham

The hopes of having seven different winners in seven rounds are well and truly over, but us British fans are being treated to something even better. Josh Bryceland winning World Cups with Steve Peat there to celebrate with him feels like a scene out of a Sprung film!


Windham’s short course proved to be a great race track, and created the tightest racing we’ve seen all year. In fact, in the Elite men’s field, the riders between fourth and tenth position all finished within the same second! Let’s take a closer look at what went on…

The streak is over

This weekend finally saw a repeat winner in the men’s series, with Josh Bryceland picking up another win. Ratboy collected maximum points, wresting the points lead away from Troy Brosnan. He showed no signs of the pressure getting to him and put another two seconds into his winning qualifying time, which he’d admitted he wasn’t sure he could better. 

Everyone knew Bryceland would win races one day but I’m not sure anyone expected this level of consistency out of him. He might well be the first rider to win a World Cup with a black eye – something he picked up at a party the weekend before! Downhill racing is becoming more exciting because of Bryceland winning – though he’s obviously putting in hard work behind the scenes, he’s showing how much fun you can have riding your bike and that you don’t have to let being an athlete take over every second of your day. The young Brit is now one win away from being World Cup champion.

Josh bryceland’s on fire right now, taking his second win in three races:
Lukas Pilz/Red Bull Content Pool

Josh Bryceland’s on fire right now, taking his second win in three races. Pic: Lukas Pilz/Red Bull Content Pool

Leader’s pressure

Manon Carpenter’s weekend didn’t quite go to plan, with her finishing in fourth place and giving away valuable points to Rachel Atherton and Emmeline Ragot. Manon admitted to not getting along with the very fast, one-line style track and was aiming for a top three. She suffered serious injuries here back in 2010, which may have played on her mind somewhat as well. The young Welshwoman now has a 70-point lead going into the final round.

Winning margins

Emmeline Ragot was a long, long way back at the beginning of the year after crashes and mechanicals held her back from her usual pace, but this weekend she won by an incredible 2.8 seconds and now finds herself right in the thick of the championship! That lead might not sound like much, but on a short track with few technical features it was difficult for riders to separate themselves from one another. Emmeline has fought all season long to get back into the championship and now she finally has a chance at it.

Emmeline ragot had a slow start to the season but she’s firing on all cylinders now:
Sven Martin/Red Bull Content Pool

Emmeline Ragot had a slow start to the season but she’s firing on all cylinders now. Pic: Sven Martin/Red Bull Content Pool

Full Circle

A year ago, Junior rider Taylor Vernon was just getting out of a hospital bed in France after major surgery, and this weekend he won a World Cup! It’s been a long road to the top for Vernon, who was expected to win straight away. His season was cut short before it really got going last year and this year it’s taken a long time to get back up to speed, but this weekend it all came together. Taylor obviously has a great support network and a lot of talent. He’s probably out of contention for the overall title but he’s just become a very real threat for the Junior World Championships in Norway in just under a month’s time.

Four to Fourteen

Luca Shaw didn’t get the perfect win on home soil that he’d been hoping for, but he did beat his main rival Loris Vergier for the second week running. He extended his points lead to 14 and looks to have a good advantage going into the World Cup finals. Fourteen points isn’t a cushion though, and this battle will go right down to the line. Who’s your money on?

Specialized trouble

You can’t really say that a team’s riders finishing second and third is bad, but it’s certainly not how Aaron Gwin and Troy Brosnan would have wanted their day to go. With Gwin losing by well over a second in front of his ‘home’ crowd and Brosnan losing the leader’s jersey, it wasn’t a great day for Specialized Racing. Before Bryceland caught fire Specialized looked to be in control of this series, and now they’ve got a fight on their hands.

Two riders on the podium ain’t bad, but specialized racing were gunning for a win :
Lukas Pilz/Red Bull Content Pool

Two riders on the podium ain’t bad, but Specialized Racing were gunning for a win. Pic: Lukas Pilz/Red Bull Content Pool

Winning team

Last weekend CRC/Nukeproof scored their first World Cup win, courtesy of Sam Hill, and this weekend they won the team prize, with all three riders getting inside the top 10. Sam Hill is probably not too pleased with his seventh place finish after winning last weekend but it was still a good result. Elite rookie Mike Jones finished in sixth and Joe Smith in ninth. They were both within half a second of the podium and achieved season bests. There’s a lot of hype about carbon bikes with high price tags at the moment, but you certainly can’t rule out the teams on aluminium bikes just yet. A great achievement for this still relatively new bike brand.

Missed the Windham World Cup? Watch the replay here: