Red Bull Hardline 2019
Hard by name, hard by nature, Red Bull Hardline 2019 did not disappoint!
Set in the stunning Dyfi Valley, North Wales, Red Bull Hardline is one of the toughest downhill mountain bike races in the world. We were there to take in all the action across the weekend, watching the very best riders battle it out down the brutally rocky terrain and send it over some insane gaps.
The Hardline course was designed by former British champion Dan Atherton and Ollie Davey and is now in its sixth year and pushes riders to their limits like no other track out there. What really differentiates Red Bull Hardline from World Cup downhill events is the sheer number of obstacles out on the course. From the rocky 'Camberlands' to 'The Final Fly Off', once you hit the first obstacle there is no let-up all the way down.
With speeds hitting up to 40mph, riders really need to be on top of their game to handle the epic jumps and navigate their way through difficult, technical and (usually) damp wooded sections of the course.
Obstacles out on the course include the infamous 'Road Gap', that sees riders jump a huge 20 metres over the track up the mountain and the mammoth 'Step Up', that has caught out some of the world’s top riders in the past, including french rider Alex Fayolle, who had to be airlifted off the course in 2016 after going over his bars.
Considered to be the landmark event for the end of the downhill season, this was dryrobe’s first year at Red Bull Hardline and we’re stoked not only to be there for the epic racing, but to be able to supply all the riders with limited edition Red Bull Hardline dryrobes to help keep them warm and dry up in the Welsh mountains.
Unseasonably hot weather for qualification on Saturday meant conditions on the course were super dry, very unusual for this event. 19 of the world’s best downhill riders fought to qualify for the final race on Sunday with the top 14 making the cut.
Red Bull Hardline is famed for it’s wet and cold conditions, but the sunshine meant the course was a lot firmer compared to previous years and very, very quick. The six fastest qualifiers, including previous winners Gee Atherton and Bernard Kerr, clocked times under 3 minutes.
The weather turned on Sunday ahead of the final, with the Welsh rain and mist making for a much more slippery course up on the mountain. These conditions would definitely favour the more experienced riders and those going down later on in the day.
Despite the slippery conditions, the first few riders down proved that the course was still in good shape, with their times being just a few seconds off the dry qualifying session. The first rider down to make a big impact was Gaëtan Vigé, who not only set an impressive time but was also the first to pull off a backflip going over the step up. Kaos Seagrave also spectacularly backflipped over the obstacle. Unfortunately, the rest of his run didn’t go quite to plan. Kaos went down on the slippery rocks shortly after and despite wowing the crowd with another backflip over the Waterfall Edge jump he had to walk it down after damaging his bike after another fall shortly after.
Norwegian Brage Vestavik’s near-perfect ride set the benchmark for other riders to beat with clocking the first run under 3 minutes. Joe Smith put in an incredible ride, only for his back tire to puncture in the woods just before the end, forcing him to avoid the final jump, losing valuable time in the process. Despite this Joe still managed to have clocked the fastest time so far, with just two riders to go.
Next up was last year’s winner and home favourite Gee Atherton, who put everything into his run and took the lead from Joe Smith with just one rider to go - former Red Bull Hardline champion Bernard Kerr. Bernard was the fastest in qualifying and every year he’s raced Red Bull Hardline he’s taken a podium spot, this year would be no exception. Bernard used his speed and experience to put in an epic ride and knocked over 2 seconds off of Gee’s run to take 1st place in front of a sold-out crowd, becoming the first person to be crowned Red Bull Hardline champion twice!
1st - Bernard Kerr - 2m 52.109s
2nd - Gee Atherton - 2m 55.338s
3rd - Joe Smith - 2m 57.886s
4th - Brage Vestavik - 2m 59.828s
5th - Alexandre Fayolle - 3m 0.509s
6th - Brendan Fairclough - 3m 1.336s
7th - Charlie Hatton - 3m 2.558s
8th - Laurie Greenland - 3m 4.248s
9th - Gaëtan Vigé - 3m 5.784s
10th - Matt Walker - 3m 10.252s
11th - Florent Payet - 3m 12.577s
12th - Harry Molloy - 3m 15.306s
13th - Kade Edwards - 3m 17.110s
14th - Kaos Seagrave - 7m 38.532s
After the prize-giving and celebrations, all the riders took part a signing session for fans, showing a real commitment to the next generation and demonstrating the kind of access to elite athletes that's missing from many sports. The perfect way to end an epic weekend racing, bring on Red Bull Hardline 2020!