Photo Credit: Sven Martin
The 2023 World Cup DH season was a memorable campaign for athletes in Full-10. Looking back to Lenzerheide, a number of our riders hoped to capitalize on successful 2022 seasons and arrived in Switzerland looking to start fast.
There was perhaps no team with more momentum than the Commencal-Muc Off team. Amaury Pierron was the reigning Men’s Elite series winner coming into ‘23 and Thibaut Daprela was looking to regain his 2021 form to compete for a win at every stop. Myriam Nicole had a strong ‘22 season and was hopeful to pick up where she left off last year.
But before the racing even began, Amaury was lost to a season ending injury in a practice run crash. Nicole, still dealing with the lingering symptoms of a concussion during the ‘22 season, scratched from the race line up, and ended up never competing in 2023.
Continental Atherton welcomed Rachel Atherton back to the race course, and she dominated the Women’s Elite field capturing her first race win since the 2019 season. In the Men’s Elite race Andreas Kolb delivered a convincing Qualifying run and placed first in the Semis, but a crash on his race run left him in 30th place to start the season.
American racing legend Aaron Gwin, who had a return to early career form in 2022, also crashed at Lenzerheide, and the broken arm he sustained required surgery that would keep him out for the rest of the 2023 season.
The biggest brightspot of the weekend though belonged to Erice Van Leuven, the Junior Woman from Commencal-Les Orres burst onto the UCI stage and captured her first win in her category. Hugo Marini from Commencal-Muc Off also kicked off the Men’s Junior season in style, taking 3rd in his race.
Stop number 2 of the series took racers to the mountains of Austria at Leogang where Atherton’s Andreas Kolb won his first career World Cup race in front of a rowdy home crowd. His teammate Rachel Atherton again delivered a very competitive race run and took home 3rd in the women’s elite race.
Muc-Off’s Thib Daprela also raced well, finishing just off the podium in sixth place. Leo Abella, from Commencal-Les Orres took the top spot in the Junior Men’s race.
Stop three was at Val Di Sole in Italy. After crashing out at Leogang, Erice Van Leuven, the young Kiwi, returned to the podium in the Junior Women’s race, finishing in second place. Daprela rode his way to third place in the Men’s Elite field, while Kolb finished in a solid 6th place. Danny Hart, racing for Cube, took 9th in the Men’s field. Leo Abella took 5th in the Junior Men’s race.
There was a long midseason break during much of June and July, but before heading back to the Continent, most of the racers from the World Cup circuit stopped over in Fort William, Scotland for the UCI World Championships. Atherton’s Charlie Hatton shocked the world, taking the Men’s Elite championship. It was the UK rider’s first Elite race victory, and it came on home soil. His teammate Andi Kolb joined him on the podium, finishing second.
Erice Van Leuven dominated the Junior Womens race, taking the top step in what ended up being a New Zealand sweep of the podium. The young Frenchman, Leo Abella, took bronze in the Junior Men's race.
In late August, the tour returned with a stop #4 at Andorra. We documented this incredible race week in our film, “10 For 10.” During their races at the Pal Arinsal course, Hattan and Van Leuven pulled on their 2023 World Champion rainbow stripes for the first time.
In the Men’s Elite race Commencal-Les Orres’ Antoine Vidal, fresh off being crowned European Continental champ, had his best Elite race, finishing 4th. Daprela returned to his peak form, winning his first Men’s Elite race since the 2021 season. And finally, Van Leuven also returned to the top step on the women’s podium, winning the Junior Women’s race again. Hugo Marini finished just off the podium in 6th in the Junior Men’s race.
Race 5 and 6 were held a week apart in Loudenvielle and Les Gets, France. Van Leuven took second in the Junior Women’s race, while here teammate Lisa Bauman would find her season best finish, taking 5th in the Women’s Elite race. Both Hatton and Daprela would sadly both end their seasons with crashes resulting in broken arms at Loudenvielle.
Hugo Marini returned to the Junior Men’s podium taking 5th place.
Kolb charged back to the podium at Les Gets, taking 2nd place in the Men’s Elite field. He was in the top spot until the final racer on course, Benoit Coulanges, bested his time by 1/16 of a second.
Following Les Gets, the World Cup brought their traveling circus to Snowshoe, West Virginia. By this point in the season several of the races teams were missing large chunks of their teams. Muc Off and Atherton brought only 2 racers.
Les Orres traveled deep as a team, though, and scattered riders all over the four races. Jack Piercy delivered his best Qualifying round, picking up 9th. Erice Van Leuven once again stood atop the podium in the Junior Women’s race. Atherton’s Dom Platt rode his strongest race of the season, grabbing 5th place in the Junior Men’s race.
Andi Kolb finished in 7th to help his overall series position. Young American rider Dylan Maples, Commencal-Muc Off had his best finish of the season, ending up in 20th.
As the fall colors started to pop, the 2024 season wrapped up at Mont Sainte Anne in Quebec. Long a storied venue on the professional mountain bike circuit, this season’s race delivered another fight for the ages. Though the Women’s Elite and Junior Men’s series championships were already wrapped up, the Men’s Elite and Junior Women’s crowns were still up for grabs. After 7 races, there had been 7 different race winners on the Elite side and mathematically, any of the top 3 riders could have taken the championship, but in the end, Loic Bruni took the championship, and Jackson Goldstone the race win.
Andi Kolb delivered another great race, taking 8th which moved him into 5th position to finish the series. Dylan Maples continued his solid race season, finishing in 13th place. Erice Van Leuven finished 10th on the day, which cemented her 3rd place overall in her first season of Junior Women’s racing.