Giant riders stormed the Downieville Classic in Northern California last weekend, scoring multiple podium placings in both the XC and DH races and taking three of the top-five placings in the “All Mountain World Championships,” which combines a rider’s results from racing both days on one bike.
The Downieville Classic, which celebrated its 23rd edition this year, is a unique event that combines a point-to-point XC race on Saturday followed by a DH race that plummets 4000 feet on Sunday. This year Giant sent a strong squad of three riders: Giant Factory Off-Road Team veteran and 5-time All Mountain winner Carl Decker, his teammate Stephan Davoust, and Giant Co-Factory rider Tristan Uhl.
After two days of racing, Uhl ended up second, Davoust was third, and Decker fourth.
Uhl scored the top All Mountain result with a strong ride in the downhill. He chose to ride the all-new Trance Advanced Pro 29 trail bike, while Davoust and Decker chose the more XC-oriented Anthem Advanced Pro 29.
This year’s XC race climbed 3000 feet in the first 45 minutes before connecting to 6 miles of rugged new singletrack trail along the Sierra Crest and then rejoining the prior course at the legendary Babyheads section.
“With so much challenging new trail replacing what was once a relatively easy fire road ride, the prevailing strategy among the Giant riders was to conserve,” Decker said. “Whatever time was lost on the opening climb could likely be made up on the incredibly long and rough final descent.”
By the feed zone at Packer Saddle, before the descent, all three Giant riders were nearly together in 7th, 8th and 9th position. They began catching and passing riders in front of them while deftly negotiating the rough, exposed, and very fast descent. By the finish, there was only one rider, Canadian Geoff Kabush, who managed to stay ahead, as Decker finished second, Davoust third, and Uhl sixth in the XC.
Sunday’s downhill saw Uhl, on his new Trance Advanced Pro 29, catch and pass his “minute man” Decker as he pushed the limits of his new bike to a second-place finish behind Kabush.
“I am generally better on the second day of Downieville and I expected a lot out of myself this year as I had a secret weapon in the form of the new Trance 29,” said Uhl. “It’s the perfect Downieville downhill bike with just enough travel to get me down the mountain in one piece but not so much that it would slow me down on the punchy climbs and pedaling sections. I kept pushing hard all the way to the line and finished with a time of 45:41 in second place.”
Davoust, racing Downieville for the first time on his Anthem Advanced Pro 29, combined a third in the XC and fifth in the DH to take third overall in the All Mountain.
“Carl and I showed up to Downieville on Tuesday and started riding the course and getting bike setups figured out,” Davoust said. “It was very valuable to have several days to ride laps of the downhill and cross-country tracks. All weekend I was riding conservative because I was quite nervous about my recovering collarbone, and it was my first time really riding a mountain bike since I broke my collarbone.”
Decker, the five-time All-Mountain champ, also chose the Anthem Advanced Pro 29. He followed up his strong second-place XC effort with a seventh place in the DH to finish fourth in the All Mountain.
That result solidifies Decker’s lead in the Lost Sierra Triple Crown going into the final event of that series, Grinduro, in October. Undefeated in the Triple Crown competition, he was happy with the weekend.
“I rode a bike that was leaning to the XC side of things because the Triple Crown is important to me,” Decker said. “But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have hopes of returning to the top step of the podium in the DH. When Tristan went by me on course and disappeared though, I knew the charade was over. Next year, I might have to try a Trance 29!”