The TFR Downhill gang is gearing up for its most drama-filled season yet
The aspects that make downhill racing so exciting also make it cruel.
The incredible speed and razor’s edge risk-taking on brutally terse tracks all over the world? Breathtaking to watch, but also capable of meting out severe consequences for small mistakes or bouts of bad luck. Last year, Trek Factory Racing DH’s four riders missed 21 of their 36 planned World Cup or World Championships final runs due to injuries. They entered 2022 with big ambitions, but all too often they didn’t get a chance to see them through.
That’s not to say the team didn’t have its highs. Loris Vergier stayed relatively healthy throughout the season and won two of the last three World Cup races on the calendar, and also took third at World Championships to complete an All-France podium and spark a spectacular celebration. TFR newcomer Bodhi Kuhn got to spend a lot of time under the team tent last year, and was one of the most consistent juniors on the circuit, especially as a World Cup newbie. He took third in Mont-Sainte-Anne for his first career podium, in front of a home Canadian crowd no less.
Reece Wilson and Kade Edwards return, hungry to reassert themselves among the fastest riders in the world. Both missed extensive action last year, but at their best, they are appointment viewing. Wilson is a former World Champion, while Edwards, a former junior World Champion, is simply one of the most talented riders anywhere.
Whatever happens this season, it won’t be boring, and you can bet the boys will look damn good. This will almost certainly be TFR’s most drama-filled season yet, and you won’t want to miss a thing.
4 stories to watch
Bodhi’s big come-up
Kuhn’s first World Cup start last year was just over a month before his 17th birthday. But despite his youth, Kuhn proved he was ready for the big stage, finishing outside of the top 5 only twice in the seven events he completed. Turns out, he’d already been preparing himself for big league racing for years.
“Even from my first couple years racing, I always knew I was going to end up at the World Cup one way or another,” Kuhn told the Trek Race Shop. “I wasn’t going to let myself not achieve that goal. In my mind it was never really an option. So it felt like all the planning, everything that led up to it was like, ‘OK, I’m ready for this.’”
With experience and another year of wisdom under his belt, Kuhn will aim for even higher spots on the junior podium. Kuhn’s very bright future in downhill racing is just getting underway.
Reece Wilson’s surge on Scotland
Wilson wears his Scottish pride on his sleeve. Literally: Check out his custom kit and bike for Fort William last year. Or relive his dramatic 2021 season in ‘The Flying Scotsman.’ Wilson’s Scottish pride is infused with everything he does on and off the track.
This year, World Championships happen to be taking place in Fort William. Wilson will be the crowd favorite, and with a rainbow jersey and a World Cup victory to his name, he’s proven he can rise up and meet big moments. Coming off a difficult 2022, nothing could be sweeter than giving his biggest fans a show for the ages.
What’s next for Loris Vergier?
Vergier has thoroughly proven that he is a force of nature on a downhill bike. At his best, there may be no one in the world who can match his pinpoint control at eye-watering speeds. In two seasons with TFR, he has won four World Cup races and a European Championship, and finished third (2021) and second (2022) in the overall World Cup standings.
So what’s next? Just the biggest prizes in the sport. Vergier has come achingly close to winning the World Cup overall, and has finished top 5 at World Championships three times in his career. He’ll be vying to cement his legacy among the very best.
Kade Edwards ready to soar
Edwards’ 2022 season started with perhaps the most impressive result of his young career. He sat in the hot seat a long time before finishing 13th in Lourdes. He seemed prepared to take a big step forward in his racing career.
Unfortunately, a crash in Lenzerheide, just the fourth World Cup race of the year, put him on the sidelines for the rest of the season. The potential coming out party had to be shelved.
Edwards’ talent is undeniable. Just watch “Parallel II,” his jaw-dropping video with Brandon Semenuk, if you’re unfamiliar. This year, he’s once again aiming to become a regular top 10 fixture on the World Cup circuit. We wouldn’t bet against anything Edwards puts his mind to.
Schedule and how to watch
MTB World Cup broadcasts will be moving from Red Bull TV to Discovery this year. And though timing and streaming details are still being ironed out, you can expect to find the races within the Discovery family of streaming services.
Round 1: Lenzerheide, June 9-11
In a nutshell: Extremely high speed, and an unbelievable fan atmosphere at high altitude.
Round 2: Leogang, June 16-18
In a nutshell: Bike park-y … until it’s not. A heavily wooded section in the second half is a technical gauntlet.
Round 3: Val di Sole, June 30-July 2
In a nutshell: An absolute bruiser. Simultaneously one of the steepest AND rockiest tracks on the World Cup circuit.
World Championships: Fort William, August 9-12
In a nutshell: Long, and peppered throughout with loose rock and dirt, and natural technical features. This is an iconic venue, and the favorite of one Reece Wilson.
Round 4: Andorra, August 23-27
In a nutshell: Steep, loose and fast, all at high altitude. If you like redline racing, this is your track.
Round 5: Loudenvielle, September 1-3
In a nutshell: A beautiful natural setting that will put riders’ technical ability through a stiff test.
Round 6: Les Gets, September 15-17
In a nutshell: Fast and loose up top, with some fun, wooded tech near the bottom for flavor. Another all all-around test.
Round 7: Snowshoe, September 28-October 1
In a nutshell: Fast … and then the rock gardens begin. You’ll feel sore just watching this race.
Round 8: Mont-Sainte-Anne, October 6-October 8
In a nutshell: Part 2 of the North American finale is arguably even steeper and rougher than Snowshoe. A perfect way to end the season.
Follow the squad this season at the Trek Factory Racing DH Instagram page. And while we have you here, be sure to check out our fresh new kits and bike paint scheme.