February 13, 2024
UCI Snow Bike World Championships: Anticipation hots up

The first-ever UCI Snow Bike World Championships

The first-ever UCI Snow Bike World Championships take place in France this weekend with legends Danny Hart and Sabrina Jonnier leading the charge.

The first-ever Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Snow Bike World Championships are only days away with everything in place in Châtel, Haute-Savoie, for two days of adrenaline-fuelled racing (10-11 February). Fifty athletes – 43 men and seven women – from eight countries are currently on the start list with final entries confirmed the day before racing begins. Read on to discover some of the stars who’ll be shining their talent on France. But first an overview of the racing format…


The two competition formats on the snow of Châtel are inspired by alpine skiing: Super-G and dual slalom. Women and men will compete in both.

Saturday’s Super-G races will take place on a single descent of the L’aity piste followed by the Stade Linga, for a total of 1,957m and a vertical drop of 600m. Each rider sets off a minimum of 40 seconds apart.

On Sunday, the dual slalom will mirror the parallel slalom in snowboarding and alpine skiing. This exhilarating format will take place on the Stade Linga, which is 510m long and features a vertical drop of 155m. Timewise, that’s about 30 seconds of descending. The competition comprises a series of elimination races where two riders go head-to-head on two parallel slalom courses, battling each other over two heats where they switch courses for the second heat. The rider with the fastest combined time advances to the next round of the competition up until the final.

Both days will be fast and furious and primarily ridden on downhill mountain bikes, albeit this isn’t mandatory. However, the same bike must be used for both competition formats. Following inspection of the conditions, the use of studded tyres is authorised (maximum 6mm and maximum 1 nail per spike). The format lends itself to those riders who live, breathe and eat speed, which is why this sextet are the ones to watch…


Great Britain’s Hart has been a formidable competitor in mountain bike downhill for over a decade, and really came to global prominence at the 2011 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships when, on a saturated mudbath of the downhill course in Champéry, Switzerland, he unleashed a handling masterclass to obliterate the time of then leader Damien Spagnolo of France to win by nearly 12 seconds.

Five years later, on a dry and dusty parcours in Val di Sole, Italy – the polar opposite of the conditions in Champéry -, Hart outfought and outthought countryman Laurie Greenland to take his second UCI world title. Hart attacked the course with his usual offensive flair to win by three seconds. Hart’s also won several downhill rounds of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup and is rightly considered one of the all-time greats.


France’s Pierre Thévenard will be looking to capitalise on both local knowledge and form at the maiden UCI Snow Bike World Championships. Thévenard lives in Châtel and knows every turn, twist, nook and cranny like the back of his hand. He’s ooking strong, winning the French Snow Bike Championships in Les Gets last weekend to retain the title he won in 2022.

One thing’s guaranteed when it comes to Thévenard – he’ll leave it all out on the Châtel course as he holds the snow bike record speed of 165.9km/hr. Then again, it’s not all about brawn in Châtel. Thévenard will be using his brain, too. “The competition will be tough,” he told the UCI earlier this year. “The winner of the Super-G won’t necessarily win the dual slalom, which is a little bit slower but really technical. Racing two at a time can be destabilising, with pressure right to the end. For the spectators it will be a real show.”


Swiss athlete Moret will be an interesting one to keep an eye on as, while not a full-time cyclist, he’s certainly attracted to speed. The 42-year-old is a star of speed skiing, a sport where you downhill ski in a straight line as fast as possible. Moret holds the Swiss speed skiing record of 250.8km, only 5km/hr shy of Frenchman Simon Billy’s 255.05km/hr world record.


France’s Sabrina Jonnier is one of the standout riders of the women’s field with, like Danny Hart, two UCI Downhill World Champion titles to her name. In 2006, Jonnier bested silver medallist Tracy Moseley and Rachel Atherton (both Great Britain) by 3.51 and 7.48 seconds, respectively.

A year later, Jonnier grabbed her second consecutive UCI world crown ahead of Atherton (silver) and Australia’s Tracey Hannah (bronze). Jonnier’s also twice been on the podium in four-cross at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships and once in the dual slalom.

Nevertheless, she lost her title of French Snow Bike Champion last weekend, finishing second to Morgane Charre.


Recently-crowned French Snow Bike Champion, Morgane Charre is another former downhill UCI World Champion who’ll be aiming to write the headlines in Châtel. Charre won the rainbow jersey in 2012 when just 22. Back then, it was a surprise that the former BMX racer took the honours. But maybe it shouldn’t have been as she was brought up on the steep Alpine tracks of La Clusaz in the French Alps, which is around 100km from Châtel. Charre then moved to Enduro where she finished second in the overall enduro classification of the 2023 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, winning the final round in Châtel last September.

She will certainly be going into this weekend’s competition with a positive mindset: when once asked what advice she would give her 13-year-old self, she replied, “Believe in your own abilities and dream big.”


Finally, keep an eye out for Italy’s Veronika Widmann. The 30-year-old is a five-time downhill National Champion, who finished third overall in the downhill competition of the 2019 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, and won bronze at the 2022 European Championships.

Courtessy : UCI Official Website