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Watch: Who are this weekends World Cup favourites?

Get ready for the return of downhill racing before this weekend's big show

The first 2019 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup event is this coming up in Maribor, Slovenia. Who will be the top contenders for the win this weekend and for the season beyond?

Last year the French trio of Amaury Pierron, Loïc Bruni and Loris Vergier were nearly unstoppable. American Aaron Gwin is back from injury, and motivated by his new home at Intense Factory Racing.

On the women’s side, Rahel Atherton will be balancing racing with the start of the family business, Atherton Bikes. While rising talent Tahnée Seagrave will be looking to get in a win early on in the long DH season.

Here at Canadian MTB we’d argue that Specialized’s Finn Iles, teammate to the world champion Loïc Bruni could easily have made this list. As could Canyon Factory Racing’s Canadian duo of Mark Wallace and national champion Magnus Manson.

While they don’t make mention of junior racing in the Red Bull preview, the Canuck youth are charging hard in the highly competitive junior men’s class. Elliot Jamieson (Norco Factory Team) stormed onto the international scene part way though 2018, taking sixth in Mont-Sainte-Anne before surprising everyone with a bronze medal finish at UCI mountain bike world championships.

Ethan Shandro (Trek Factory DH) announced his arrival in the junior ranks with a win at the opening US Pro GRT round in Tennessee, then backed that up with a second over the weekend at the iXS EDC in Slovenia. Pemberton’s Lucas Cruz (SRAM/TLD Racing) also has a win already this year, taking the top step at Dry Hill, Round #2 of the US Pro GRT tour.