Zooming past trees, gnarled roots and metal poles on a mountain bike, the wind blowing in your face as you race down the dirt course — this is just a snapshot of the UCI Mercedes-Benz Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup.
And downhill world champion Reece Wilson is readily aware of how demanding his sport can be. “I like to compare it to rugby,” Wilson tells CNN Sport. “If you replace all the people in a rugby field with metal poles or trees and asked everybody to run as fast as they could, I think not many people would want to do it.” The 2021 Downhill World Cup starts Friday in Leogang, Austria, the same venue where Wilson became downhill world champion last year. But being on the same course doesn’t make any difference to the 25-year-old. “You have to turn off and treat it like a new track and start afresh,” he says.
“For me, it’s a new year. It’s a new start. We have a new bike. There’s a lot of new things going on. So a completely new mindset, and you just start again from where you are this year.” In addition to Leogang, there are four other global stops on the circuit, including Les Gets, France, which features a new, never-ridden-before track. Throughout these five events, each rider will try to collect as many points as possible to be crowned the Overall downhill world cup winner. Beside downhill, the Mountain Bike World Cup also has other disciplines, including cross country and four-cross. The World Cup season also features a World Championships event, a one-off race which this year will take place in Val del Sole, Italy.