Last year’s World Cup Downhill season was one of the best in recent memory. Both the men’s and women’s fields felt deeper than they had… maybe ever, and the racing absolutely lived up to its promise. The battle for the men’s overall title was tight all season and while Myriam Nicole took a commanding lead on the women’s field into the final doubleheader in Snowshoe, Vali Holl pulled off incredibly dramatic back-to-back wins to snag the overall title.
But even more importantly, the excitement wasn’t limited to the fight for the overalls. Each race felt wide open, with no clear favorites and tons of racers who could grab the top step if they had their day. I could go on (and you should listen to Ep. 104 of Bikes & Big Ideas if you want to listen to me and Ed Masters do just that) but suffice it to say, last season was awesome. And there are a ton of compelling new storylines going into 2022, including Neko Mulally’s amazing self-designed race bike project, Greg Minnaar’s unending reign as the best to ever do it, and a ton of team changes, new race bikes, and a whole lot more.
And so I’m very, very excited that World Cup DH is back tomorrow. (Let’s not talk about the almost two-month intermission until the second race at Fort William.) Starting the season in March is unusually early — and I hope the weather cooperates since the Lourdes track is not exactly forgiving in the wet, as we saw at the last Lourdes race back in 2017 when rain moved in late in the men’s race and buried the top qualifiers at the very bottom of the finals results.
Will the French come out flying on their home turf? Myriam Nicole and Thibault Daprella have something to prove after late-season heartbreak last season, Amaury Pierron is looking fast after an injury-marred 2021 season, and Loic Bruni is, once again, the reigning overall champ. Troy Brosnan is, unfortunately, out for round one with a broken ankle, but Reece Wilson showed that he was back on form after his insane crash at Les Gets by winning the first race at Snowshoe, Greg Minnaar can’t ever be counted out, Vali Holl has quite a hot streak to carry into the new season, and plenty more racers will be looking to spoil the French party.
I don’t have any real predictions, I’m just super excited that racing is back. And I’ll be on my couch, coffee in hand bright and early tomorrow. Let’s go.