The 2019 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup season launches at Maribor in late April with the Slovenian downhill track the first chance we get to see competitive action.
Cross-country champions Nino Schurter and Jolanda Neff will be eager to retain their crowns, while fearless downhill duo Rachel Atherton and Amaury Pierron will face stiff competition in the defence of their titles.
Rachel and Gee Atherton have announced that, after leaving Trek Bikes, they will ride their own new brand ‘Atherton Bikes’ in 2019. The siblings, along with older brother Dan, have teamed up with Dragons’ Den entrepreneur Piers Linney to form the new company. Gee and Rachel will ride the World Cup events on prototype frames.
Dan Atherton said. “It’s always been a dream of mine for us to ride for our own bike company. We’ve ridden for some great brands, and we’re proud of the part we’ve played in the development of DH bikes. We’ve always really enjoyed the process, from working with the designers on the early stages through to testing and refining prototypes on the World Cup circuit.”
Cross-country world champion Kate Courtney will be keen to transfer her Lenzerheide form to the XCO World Cup circuit and the 23-year-old American will be helped by joining Schurter’s team SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing from Specialized. European champion Lars Forster joins them too after switching from BMC MTB Racing.
Swiss racer Neff joins Canadian star Emily Batty at Trek Factory Racing from Kross Racing after two years with the Polish-based outfit as she looks to win a fourth World Cup title in what promises to be a thrilling duo.
In downhill, five-time World Cup champion Aaron Gwin, fellow American Neko Mulally and Australian Jack Moir have signed for Intense Factory Racing. Gwin said: “As a rider and team owner, I’m excited to run such a legendary race program.”
2014 men’s champion Josh Bryceland has switched Santa Cruz for Cannondale, where the Briton is part of the exciting new Sessions team riding a Habit bike.
Junior world champion Kade Edwards and fellow Briton Reece Wilson will be joined by Canadian Ethan Shandro and American Charlie Harrison at Trek Factory Racing Downhill as they seek to make the step up in class.
Daredevil British free-racer Brendan Fairclough will ride for the newly announced Scott DH Factory Team alongside Dean Lucas, Florent Payet and Marine Cabirou.
British downhill champion Adam Brayton negotiates his own frame deal for Hope Factory Racing and will use a new Nukeproof alongside Welsh rider Meg Whyte.
Young Belgian Martin Maes stunned the field to win the final 2018 men’s downhill race in La Bresse and he has decided to stay with GT Factory Racing.
Finally, 2017 women’s world champion Miranda Miller of Canada has opted to leave downhill altogether for a proper shot at a full Enduro World Series season.