2012 UCI World Cup – Sliced & Diced

The curtain has fallen on yet another year of big name, UCI sanctioned racing. The motorhomes have been packed up, the bikes cleaned for the last time and the riders have had (at least one) end of year knees-up. So what did we learn from seven rounds of racing?!

1. We may need to start talking about the 'Gwinasty'

Aaron Gwin is from a motocross background and in American MX, nothing speaks louder than establishing a multi-year 'dynasty'. He's not there yet though – back-to-back overall titles wrapped up nice and early but still no rainbow stripes. He's beatable too, just. Another year, another title however signifies that Gwin is still number one.

2. Debutants

Finally – after several years of what seems like a podium lock-out by a select list of names, Brook MacDonald and Stevie Smith have proven that they have the speed to topple the world's best. Their wins in Val D'Isere and Hafjell respectively were a breath of fresh air for the rest of us and proof to them that when they keep it rubber-side down, they're unbeatable.

3. Quietly does it, Sam…

Sam Hill takes fifth in the overall. Not a headline destined to be emblazoned on the side of the Monster Energy-Specialized motorhome but, it has to be said, progress. Many internet whitterings doubted his commitment and/or motivation but a look at some of the names who finished further down the order will tell you that the raw pace is still very much there.

4. Changing of the guard

First it was Sabrinna Jonnier, then Melissa Buhl who retired from the female ranks. Now it seems to be Rachel Atherton and the thriving Manon Carpenter who are fending off a host of rapid young French ladies. Morgane Charre's World Champs win came out of virtually nowhere and seems to have instilled a wealth of confidence.

5. Britain's got talent

Terrible header, accurate statement. Big results this year from Manon Carpenter, Rich Thomas, Bernard Kerr, Phil Atwill, Scotty Mears and notably Greg Williamson prove that the British presence amid the elite ranks looks assured for another generation.