Maribor DH World Cup Preview: Downhill racing is back in focus ahead of Worlds

Loic Bruni in Les Gets
(Image credit: Bartek Wolinski/ Red Bull Content Pool)

The start to the downhill World Cup season has been a little subdued, but riders are finally back on track this week in Maribor, Slovenia. While cross-country racers have been getting all of the hype this year, the Olympic racing is over now and it's time for a downhill-only round of the World Cup before the World Championships later this month. 

Maribor had been a regular venue for World Cup downhill racing, but there was a nine-year gap before the track came back in 2019. In 2020, there was a doubleheader race with riders getting plenty of time on the track. In recent weeks, there was an IXS Downhill Cup and the European Championships in Maribor, so riders have been getting lots of practice on a similar course. 

The weather has played a significant role at Maribor in the past with heavy downpours dramatically affecting track conditions. The forecasts are looking kinder this time around and the rain should hold off, although riders will need to deal with high temperatures over the entire weekend.

It's a downhill-only race weekend, with no cross-country mountain biking, so here's a look at who we'll be watching on the live feed come Sunday. 

Women's contendors

Monika Hrastnik

The European Championships were held in Maribor last weekend and Hrastnik took victory on home soil. The Slovenian has raced to two top-five results this year too so she's on track for a big result, plus she's clearly comfortable and confident on the Maribor track.

Mille Johnset 

A lesser-known name is Norwegian Mille Johnset. The 20-year-old rides for the Continental Atherton team and has been consistent over the past two weeks, including winning the IXS Downhill Cup race. In Les Gets, she came fourth too. 

Camille Balanche 

Balanche looked strong at European Champs, taking fourth place. The current World Champion took the win at the opening DH round in Leogang and third in Les Gets. This week she will look to add to her success. 

Tahnee Seagrave

With a win in Les Gets, Tahnee Seagrave is looking super strong this year and knows how to go fast in Maribor as she won there in 2019. 

Marine Cabirou 

Cabirou won in Maribor in 2020 and was looking quick at the beginning of this season. However, she's been struggling with injury after a practice crash in Les Gets. She has said on social media that she will ride this week and see how it goes. 

Camille Balanche in Les Gets

Camille Balanche racing in Les Gets  (Image credit: Bartek Wolinksi/ Red Bull Content Pool)

Men's contendors 

Loris Vergier 

Frenchman Vergier is a clear favorite heading into the weekend. Not only did he just win the European Championships, but he swept the doubleheader World Cup in Maribor last year. 

Thibaut Daprela 

A standout rider this year has been Thibaut Daprela. After a breakout ride in Leogang, he rode to the win in Les Gets in tricky conditions. The fast Frenchie will be looking to continue his momentum this weekend. 

Danny Hart 

It's not only the French at the top of the sport, even though it sure seems like it sometimes. Danny Hart didn't get the start to the season he was probably hoping for, but he's coming off a good result at European Champs. 

Troy Brosnan 

After an awesome win in Leogang, Brosnan had a disappointing weekend in Les Gets with some crashes. He clearly knows how to claw back speed and land on the podium though. 

Reece Wilson 

The World Champion was on a super-fast run in Les Gets before an impressive crash that lit up the internet. His pace looked good until that point, so we think Wilson can throw something together if he stays on his bike this time. 

Watch all the finals run action on Red Bull TV starting at 06:30 EDT / 11:30 BST on Sunday August 15. 

Ryan Simonovich

Ryan Simonovich has been riding and racing for nearly a decade. He got his start as a cross-country mountain bike racer in California, where he cultivated his love for riding all types of bikes. Ryan eventually gravitated toward enduro and downhill racing but has also been found in the occasional road and cyclo-cross events. Today, he regularly rides the trails of Durango, Colorado, and is aiming to make a career out of chronicling the sport of cycling. 

Rides: Santa Cruz Hightower, Specialized Tarmac SL4