Gallery: 2022 UCI Downhill MTB World Championships
Saturday's 2022 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships witnessed history being made, as Loïc "super Bruni" took his fifth rainbow jersey, and was accompanied by two other French riders on the podium. In the women's race, surprising herself with her fast run, 20-year-old Valentina Höll (AUT) took the women’s title by less than a second.
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In front of an ecstatic home crowd in Les Gets, France, Loïc Bruni became the men's downhill World Champion for the fifth time, taking the victory to a new level after a frustrating season that’s been disrupted by a shoulder injury. Bruni started fourth from last and took over the lead of the race from Australian Troy Brosnan with a run that was right on the limit. Bruni nearly came off his bike on the second corner after he left the start gate but managed to relax and in the end, came in nearly four seconds faster than Brosnan.
“I couldn't believe I could do it. This season was not the best one, I tried my best to be ready. I enjoyed the run so much, I made the best of it,” Bruni said after the race. “I’ve never won in France and it’s the UCI World Championships, it’s insane, I’m so happy.”
But the race to the podium wasn't over after Bruni's run. His run was followed by three fellow Frenchmen, and on the podium Bruni was joined by Loris Vergier, who finished third, taking the bronze, and Amaury Pierron rode into silver after going nearly a second faster than Vergier. Needless to say, the scenes at the finish were epic, with the home crowd being so eager to congratulate Bruni that he needed protection from the French police.
“Three French on the podium, that’s pretty sick,” said Amaury Pierron. “I’m just glad to be part of the story.”
UCI Downhill MTB World Championships - Women's race
In the women’s race, Valentina Höll raced to her first senior World title. 20-year-old Höll already has Junior World Champ, Elite World Champ and World Cup Overall titles under her belt, so we can expect to see much more of her in the future - even though her Elite racer career hasn’t been the best until this Saturday. In Höll's first appearance in Leogang in 2020, she broke her ankle in practice, and last year in Val di Sole she finished 12th.
“We have an important race next week and I need to be ready for that,” Höll said after the race. “But man, I’m going to party hard tonight!”
Höll admitted she wasn't quite sure how she won this Les Gets World Championship. Germany's Nina Hoffmann, who in the end took silver, had been sitting in the hot seat with a time that looked hard to beat on the dusty track, but Höll managed to beat Hoffmann's time by 0.906s to take the title. Myriam Nicole (FRA) took bronze.
In the junior races that took place in the morning before the elite, Jenna Hastings (NZL) took gold, the silver medal went to Canada’s Gracey Hemstreet (leader of the 2022 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup overall standings), and the bronze medal went to Valentina Roa Sanchez from Colombia (+15.94). The 2021 UCI World Champion Izabela Yankova (BUL) did a DNF and Britain’s Phoebe Gale fell early but recovered to finish seventh.
In the junior men’s race, 60 riders took on the course in Les Gets, and with three riders remaining, Remy Meier-Smith (AUS) occupied the hot seat. But Davide Cappello (ITA) got in right behind him and the fastest qualifier, Britain’s Jordan Williams then raced to the lead. Wiliams won gold, Meier-Smith took silver (+5.91) and Cappello grabbed the bronze medal.