2020 Downhill World Cup, On or Off?

We know that you all love downhill racing. Here at Intense racing is in our DNA, we live and breathe for the beeps in the start hut, racing against the clock between the tapes. Of course, the world has been turned upside down this year by the Coronavirus pandemic, and we can’t underestimate the seriousness of that, we have all had a bit of a reality check. All of our lives have changed.

But in these troubled times, everyone is looking for some sort of normality, something to look forward to, and for many of us, that is the rescheduled Downhill World Cup series.

INTENSE Factory Racing in action

A World Cup series that is now based solely in Europe and one that did at first feature seven rounds (plus the World Championships), but has now been cut back to six after Val di Sole in Italy pulled out. With all of this being squeezed into eight weeks from September to the start of November, it will be a crazy and unprecedent time, but racing is back… hopefully.

2020 Revised DH World Cup calendar (June 9th):

Round 1  5-6 September  |  Lenzerheide, Switzerland
Round 2  19-20 September  |  Les Gets, France
World Championships 5-11 October  |  Leogang, Austria
Rounds 3 & 4 15-18 October  |  Maribor, Slovenia
Rounds 5 & 6  29 October-1st November  |  Lousa, Portugal

The downhill series normally runs through the spring and summer months from March to September. So not only is the series at a different time of year but it also features back to back racing and double headers! Rounds 3 and 4 will take place in Slovenia, and 5 and 6 in Portugal, with racing scheduled to take place on the Friday and Sunday at each event. We are not sure just yet if the two ‘races’ at each venue will feature slightly altered courses between rounds, but with TV cameras being in fixed positions we can’t imagine that there will be too many changes.

INTENSE Factory Racing in action (1)

But we have ask if it will happen at all? The reasons for Val di Sole pulling out were simple. The local authorities in the province of Trentino has forbidden any international sporting events until 15th October this year. So that is clear. What is less clear is what the situation will be with travel restrictions, accommodation, quarantine, the whole infrastructure around a race village and pit areas, etc. at the other venues. Individual countries have different rules in place, with different travel restrictions. Some countries are imposing 14 days of quarantine for anyone arriving into the country. Take New Zealand for instance. It has just declared itself virus free (June 8th) and has eased almost all of its restrictions, but importantly its borders will remain closed. That means that currently no one in New Zealand wanting to race World Cups will be able to. It is a similar story in many other countries, and with the whole INTENSE Factory Racing (IFR) team being based in North America what travel problems will they face? None we hope.

On the ground it will be really interesting to see how riders approach these races. Everyone will be watching each other intently. Some are bound to have nothing to lose and just go for it. But surely the smart racer will ease themselves into it, desperately trying to avoid crashes, injuries and dropped points. Do you play it safe or just throw caution to the wind? Times are so tight these days that the whole series could be turned on its head. And will the mountainsides of Europe be empty, with just cows to keep the riders company? It is unlikely that spectators will be allowed, so what will the atmosphere be like on race day?

Of course everyone here at INTENSE is super excited that racing is coming back, we can’t wait for competition to begin. Good things are already happening – just last weekend (June 6-7) IFR team rider Neko Mulally played a big part in getting racing going again in the US, being heavily involved in the Downhill Southeast series opener in Windrock, Tennessee.

The IFR team is well prepared. They been training and product testing during this whole downtime period, getting themselves and their bikes ready for round one. We can’t wait. And you never know, maybe there might be something new for everyone to take a look at in Switzerland in September!

INTENSE Factory Racing in action (2)