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The world’s most brutal downhill mountain bike race returned to North Wales this weekend and the action truly lived up to its hard by name, hard by nature reputation.
Now in its 8th year, Red Bull Hardline is a unique event that sees some of the best (and bravest) downhill mountain bikers in the world, take on this epic course set in the Dyfi Valley.
The course was designed by former British champion Dan Atherton and pushes riders to their limits like no other track out there. What sets Hardline apart is the sheer number of obstacles, with more features per metre than any other downhill race. From the start line, high up in the Dyfi Valley, right down to the finish, there is absolutely no let-up for these riders.
The Hardline course is always evolving, with course designer and former British champion, Dan Atherton always looking to push the limits of what is possible. One of the new introductions for 2022 is a revised ‘Waterfall Edge’ section with two new big doubles, both measuring around 90ft each! This new addition caught out 3-time Hardline champion Bernard Kerr in practice. The first rider to attempt the doubles, he overcooked it by 15ft crashing in the process.
This year saw a sold-out crowd after covid meant last year’s race was a closed event. The return of fans made the atmosphere something else, with cowbells, horns and cheers following the riders from ‘Step Up’ all the way down to the ‘Final Fly Off’ at the finish.
2022 also saw the first female competitor, New Zealander Jess Blewitt, to take part in Hardline. Although Jess didn't make it through to the race after breaking her collar bone in practice, she proved her worth winning the BF Goodrich Rider of the Week award, voted for by her fellow riders. Not adverse to taking on brutal challenges, we’re sure Jess will be back for more next year.
At dryrobe® we were stoked to be asked to produce a Limited Edition Red Bull Hardline dryrobe® Advance again, to keep the riders warm and dry between runs.
On Sunday, with rain forecast to hit during the race, the start time was brought forward to avoid a downpour on track. Crowd favourite, and 2018 champion, Gee Atherton made a surprise return to the lineup after coming back from a potentially career-threatening injury at Knife Edge last year. Bringing home a respectable fifth place was impressive given he only announced that he was competing just 2 weeks ago.
French freerider Vincent Tupin (AKA Vinny T) was another competitor who got the crowd going, spectacularly back-fliping over ‘Step Up’ and a big suicide over the infamous ‘Road Gap’, adding some serious style to his run.
Local riders Joe Smith and Taylor Vernon, both from Wales, put in huge performances nabbing 2nd and 3rd place respectively, separated by the tiniest of margins.
The top section of the course played a huge part in the outcome of the race. The damp, dark, woodland caught some of the most experienced riders throughout the weekend. David McMillan, Craig Evans and Charlie Hatton all had spills in the first 30 seconds.
At just 18 years old, Canadian Jackson Goldstone is one of the most exciting young talents in downhill mountain biking. This was the 2022 Junior World Cup champion’s first ever Hardline, but it didn’t phase him at all. He put in an incredible time of 2.20.5, with just two riders to go after him, guaranteeing Jackson a top-three finish. Watching the drama unfold from the finish line, Jackson looked on as both Adam Brayton and favourite Bernard Kerr fell on their runs in that difficult wooded section at the top of the course, crowning him the 2022 Red Bull Hardline Champion.
Jackson became the youngest rider to win Hardline and the first to ever win on their first attempt!
"I had a really good run. I linked everything I wanted to with just one tiny mistake," said Jackson in his post-race interview. "I'm so stoked. It's not the way I wanted to win. I'm really gutted for all the boys who went down."
1. Jackson Goldstone - 2:20.525
2. Joe Smith - 2:27.043
3. Taylor Vernon -2:27.084
4. Rónán Dunne - 2:27.273
5. Gee Atherton - 2:28.356
6. Sam Gale - 2:28.902
7. Jim Monro - 2:28.930
8. Harry Molloy - 2:31.714
9. Thibault Laly - 2:31.767
10. Florent Payet - 2:37.436
11. Vincent Tupin - 2:40.951
12. Adam Brayton - 2:50.620
13. Théo Erlangsen - 2:51.066
14. Bernard Kerr - 3:13.357
15. Gaetan Vigé - 3:14.476
16. David McMillan - 3:16.616
17. Craig Evans - 3:42.714
18. Chris Cumming - 4:12.581
19. Charlie Hatton - DNF
Watch Jackson Goldstone’s winning run:
It was thrilling to be back at this epic event, the racing and atmosphere were electric - bring on 2023!
You can watch all of the action from the event over on Red Bull TV.
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