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Throwback Thursday: Red Bull’s wild Road Rage asphalt downhill race

"Road Rage" was the peak of 2010s weirdness

Red Bull Road Rage Poland Photo by: Ronen Topelberg / Red Bull Road Rage

Remember that time Red Bull tried to get into road racing? Red Bull Road Rage? No? Well, that could be because it didn’t really catch on. But, for the few years it lasted, it was an amazing mash-up of skinny tires, full face helmets and body armour.

In typical Red Bull fashion, Road Rage wasn’t your standard road race. It was a four-up, head-to-head downhill sprint. The idea was to bring together road racers, downhill mountain bikers and even a few BMX racers together in one ultimate test of nerves and speed.

And it sort of worked. The the first Road Rage was held in 2005.  The famous Malibu, Cali. descent, Tuna Canyon hosted an invite-only roster or pros from across disciplines. Legendary downhill racer Miles Rockwell snagged the win from from Eric Carter.

Red Bull opened up entries in the following years attracting more downhill pros and even a Tour de France stage winner to the races.

Red Bull Road Rage (2005)

In 2006, Road Rage was cancelled because of, of all things, forest fire danger concerns. In 2008, the event picked up again, this time across the pond. A 3.8 km course on Gurnigelpass in Switzerland played host.

France’s Guillaume Gualandi, who would be come a Road Rage specialist of sorts, took the win ahead of Germany’s Johannes Fischbach.

Red Bull Road Rage 2009 – Saint-Lary-Soulan, France

In 2009, Road Rage expanded to its peak of four races, all in Europe. Italy, France, Germany and Switzerland all hosted events.

The roadies were more involved at this point, with retired pro, Frédéric Moncassin, winner of two Tour de France stages, claiming victory at Saint-Lary-Soulan over French mountain bike icon Cédric Gracia

In the years that followed, the series jumped around Europe, fluctuating from one to three events before skipping 2012 entirely.

Road Rage finally returned back to the U.S.A. in 2013. That year saw a planned race on the infamous Mont Ventoux in France cancelled at the last minute. A round in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, opened the season before racing returned Stateside. Guanella Pass in Georgetown, Colo. hosted what would become the final Road Rage event.

David McCook, who had qualified second back in 2006 only to miss the podium in finals, finally found redemption with his first Red Bull Road Rage win at the age of 44.

Red Bull Road Rage 2013 – Guanella Pass, Colo.

So, what happened? Road Rage was weird, but it wasn’t particularly novel. Actual road races already go down much scarier descents. While the descents aren’t timed, the pro peloton often descents faster, and in bigger groups than Road Rage. Also, road pros aren’t wearing DH pads squeezed under spandex and full face helmets.

Red Bull quickly moved on to urban downhill events. South American events like Red Bull Valparaiso Cerro Abajo, Monserrate Cerro Abajo and Downhill Urbano de Manizales are thrilling to watch, attract pro downhill racers and produce spectacular crashes, making them immediately more popular than Road Rage at its peak.