re-sized Dan Hill

World Cup downhill – DH – racing – 2009 is off and away

In the video below from nick6kcin the versatility of the bicycle is superbly demonstrated and shows how the sport of mountain biking has evolved over the years. From use as a ‘push bike’ where we probably all started to downhill mountain biking, xc and four cross, the bike has come a long way. The 2009 season kicked off with the recent announcement that two of the best in the world of downhill racing, Sam Hill and Brendan Fairclough had found a new sponsor.

But first a little background reading to bring those who are new to the sport up to speed.

Downhill mountain-bike racing began in a low-key fashion back in the 1970s, and in recent years has grown rapidly in popularity. The Union Cycliste Internationale recognised it as a sport in 1990, when it sanctioned the world championships. It has yet to be made an Olympic discipline.

Downhill races are held on steep descents, usually narrow, tree-lined and rock-strewn, in the world’s most rugged and mountainous regions. Riders hurtle downhill at speeds that often exceed 40mph, frequently leaping several feet into the air off jumps and other obstacles along the route.

The competitor who completes the course in the fastest time is the winner, and each race typically lasts about five minutes. Think of rally driving crossed with downhill skiing — though without the roll cages or the snow.

This year’s World Cup events kicked off in South Africa last weekend, and the British leg will take place in Fort William, Scotland, on June 6-7.

The world championship which this year takes place in Canberra, Australia at Mt. Stromlo. The Championships will be staged from September 1 to 6, 2009 and are expected to attract more than 30,000 visitors from up to 40 countries. The event will involve more than 750 of the world’s top riders who will compete in the four mountain bike disciplines of Cross Country, Downhill, Four Cross and Observed Trials for the honour of being crowned World Champion.

Specialized announced in November 2998 a much anticipated decision to sponsor Team Monster Energy in 2009—home to two of the most notorious faces in downhill racing, 2X World DH Champion Sam Hill and 2006 Junior World Cup DH Champion Brendan Fairclough.

Next season, the two-man team will ride the Specialized Demo 8—the same race rig trusted by Decline Team America—known for its generous travel, patented FSR suspension, durable chassis and killer good looks. In the pre-season, Sam and Brendan will also train on the Stumpjumper FSR, Specialized’s premier XC Trail bike, along with the 4X-winning SX and P3.

Known as downhill’s man to beat, Australian Sam Hill is a 2X World DH Champion, the 2007 World Cup DH Series winner and a World Cup podium veteran, not to mention the Australian MTB Cyclist of the Year, 2004-2007. Sam has been an unforgiving competitor since he started collecting wins internationally in the U19 category, gaining more notoriety every year for being both hellishly fast and methodical about his strategy on the race course.

In the video below from viiselminha we see why Sam is one of the best in the world

Australian down hill extremist - Sam Hill

Australian down hill extremist - Sam HillAt just 20 years old, teammate Brendan Fairclough is also no stranger to DH racing. As a former Junior World Cup DH Champion and 5X British National Champion, Brendan continues to move up the ranks at the World Cups, posing a threat to some of the sport’s most experienced athletes.Briton Brendan Fairclough

There has already been one world cup qualifying event which was held at Pietermaritburg in South Africa. Hill finished in 4th place being beaten by Greg Minaar, Mick Hannah and Steve Peat.
The ladies race was won by Tracy Moseley with Emmeline Ragot coming in second and Sabrina Jonnier third.
But it is the British siblings who they all have to beat – the 2008 World Championship was won by Gee Atherton and Rachel Atherton – it is going to be an exciting year to see whether anyone can knock the Athertons from their lofty perch.

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