Confidence. Commitment. Championships.
Finn Iles caps his debut season and Danny Hart proves he’s no “one hit wonder” with wins at the UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Championships
Finn Iles is no stranger to competition, but the Canadian, who turned 17 in August, was only able to start racing World Cup events this year. And it was a stellar year. Iles competed in six of the seven World Cup events, where he collected three wins in the Jr. category on the way to the Jr. men’s overall series title.
Coming into the World Championships after being crowned Junior World Cup champ clearly gave the young phenom some momentum, but a massive crash while training on the Val di Sole course cast a huge shadow on his status as favorite for the win. It was an off that caused a lengthy course hold, required a crew of first responders, a backboard and a neck brace. But Finn was walking through the team tech area—albeit while wearing a neck brace—a short time later.
No one would have looked at him sideways had that been the end of his World Champs bid right there. And no one would’ve shaken their head at him had he gone slowly on his race run. Except himself.
Decorated with what seemed like rolls of kinesio tape, Iles hurled himself down the brutally steep, brutally “bombed out” track, almost four seconds faster than his closest competitor, fellow Canadian Magnus Manson, to take the Rainbow Jersey.
And though their frames were different—2nd place finisher Magnus Manson rides for Devinci Global Racing and the 3rd place finisher, Frenchman GaetanVige, rides for the Commencal Vallnord DH Team—each of the top three Junior World Championship finishers competed on SRAM X01 DH drivetrains, RockShox BoXXer World Cup forks, Vivid Coil RC2 shocks and Avid Code brakes.
Seeing Danny Hart’s stance and demeanor on the days leading up to the Val di Sole World Championship, no one with any knowledge of elite athletes would have bet against the Brit for the win. There was a cool confidence that radiated from him like an aura.
And why not? The man who laid down the almost mythical run on the steep, slippery Champéry track, to win the World Championships in Switzerland in 2011, has been charging hard this year. Perhaps tired of being perceived as a sort of ‘one hit wonder,’ Hart changed his training program with the goal of winning World Cup races. It worked.
Following his breakthrough win at Lenzerheide, Hart stayed on the top step of the podium for the remaining two World Cup events of the season. His World Championship victory made it four wins in a row against the world’s fastest mountain bikers.
Hart’s winning run was defiant in its style. The ’11 Champ put big power into the X01 DH drivetrain right out of the start gate, and was already on the quickest time at the first split. From then on, it was all Hart’s magical straight lines and his perfect use of his bike’s Code brakes that would take the win.
Four in a row and a second World Championship victory: Danny Hart is definitely no one hit wonder.