“This was my second year here at Downieville, and with last year’s experience I knew what I was getting into and how to prepare for the weekend,” said Davoust, who has posted a string of strong results this year including a silver medal at U.S. marathon nationals and a bronze at the short-track nationals last week in Colorado.
Davoust’s Downieville sweep highlighted a dominant showing by the Giant Factory Off-Road Team, with teammates Tristan Uhl finishing third overall and Carl Decker, a five-time Downieville All-Mountain winner, finishing fourth.
One of the unique aspects about the Downieville event is that riders must race the same bike for both the XC and DH events, making it a true test for riders and their equipment on rocky, rugged terrain that always takes a toll. Davoust rode a modified version of his Anthem Advanced Pro 29 XC bike, while Decker and Uhl chose Trance Advanced Pro 29 trail bikes.
“The racing here was by far the most gnarly terrain I have raced all season and required some special modifications to my Anthem Advanced Pro 29 to make it more downhill capable,” Davoust said. “I put on a longer travel 120mm Fox Factory fork, higher volume Maxxis tires and a dropper post. With all the downhill oriented modifications, I was able to attack the climbing sections and survive the gnarliest of descents.”
All three riders also rode the latest TRX trail WheelSystems from Giant. "We all practiced and raced on the new TRX carbon wheelset," Decker said. "The 30mm wide rims offered an improved tire footprint while remaining lightweight and incredibly reliable. No rims sustained damage in a week of aggressive smashing."
Day one featured a tough 26.5-mile point-to-point race from Sierra City to Downieville with 4500 feet of climbing and 5700 feet of descending. Davoust went hard on the first long climb, coming over the top about 15 seconds behind last year’s XC and All-Mountain winner Geoff Kabush.
“I could tell by the way Stephan was riding in practice that he'd be hard to beat this weekend,” said Decker, the five-time champion. “It usually takes a year to get up to speed here, and after a couple top-five finishes last year, he was visibly faster and more confident in the chunderous hills of Downieville.”
Davoust stayed within striking distance of Kabush during the long, technical descent, and then snatched the win when the Canadian punctured a tire. “I dropped into the descent 15 seconds behind Geoff, but kept the pressure on him the entire way until his lightweight tire choice blew up and he flatted,” he said. “He was able to plug it and get back in it quickly, however I was able to hold him off until the finish line and take the XC win.”
All three Giant riders were in top form for the following day’s DH, with Davoust, Uhl and Decker finishing first, third and fifth respectively. When the dust finally settled, Davoust had become only the fourth rider in Downieville’s 24-year history to sweep the XC and DH, joining Kabush, Decker and former Giant pro Adam Craig.