Monday Jun 07, 2010

UCI MTB World Cup - Fort William

With uncharacteristically dry weather, the riding in Fort William was borderline perfect as the loose conditions provided riders and spectators with a weekend of challenging and entertaining riding from start to finish. 

And so to the racing. In the ladies 4X the 2009 World Cup Champion, Anneke Beerten (Suspension Centre) qualified fastest, and easily made it to the final along with Horáková , Anita Molcik (Yeti) and Czech rider Romana Labounkova. In the final, Horáková was first out of the gate, followed by Molcik, and these two held their positions to the finish. Beerten had a poor start and struggled all the way down the course, finishing fourth behind Labounkova. Lucia Oetjen (Thoemus Racing) won the small final for the remaining podium spot.  

The Czech rider leads the series with 220 points to Molcik's 180, with Beerten a distant third on 130 points.  

In the mens the final saw Graves once again shooting to the front out of the gate, closely followed by Michal Prokop (Agang), who managed to squeeze in ahead of Joost Wichman (RSP 4 Cross) before the first corner. However, Wichman fought back with an incredible inside pass on the third corner to take the second spot behind a disappearing Graves. Graves easily held on for the win, while Wichman managed to hold off Prokop for second. Romain Saladini (Team Sunn Montgenèvre) took fourth, while Czech rider Kamil Tartarkovic won the small final for fifth.  

Graves now has a commanding lead over second place Wichman, with 350 points to 225. Slavik sits in third with 150 points.  

Fort William is one of the favourite tracks for the riders, requiring both technical skills and endurance and with a new DH course for 2010 which was very fast (check the our exclusive course walk here) and featured a new entry into the woods section and some stripped back rock gardens, the riders were pushing themselves and their bikes incredibly hard. A firm favourite, Sam Hill was an early victim taking a big slam which took him out of contention before the racing even started.  

In the ladies as expected, the women's race came down to a battle between round one winner Rachel Atherton (Commencal) and Jonnier, who has a long history of winning in Fort William, including the world title in 2007.  

Tracy Moseley (Trek World Racing) set the first sub 5:20 time, only to have Floriane Pugin (France) immediately overtake her by an infinitesimal two-hundredths of a second. Jonnier was next, and completely crushed the leading time by nearly five seconds after a powerful ride on the bottom half of the course. It was a hard act for Atherton to follow, and although she had the fastest second intermediate time by half a second, she lost two seconds on the final section.  

Jonnier now overtakes Atherton in the women's series to lead the rankings by a slim 15 points.  

And so to the mens. The desire to see a GB rider take the top spot at this event had the crowd going ballistic and when Gee Atherton clocked up the fastest time of the day, the party atmosphere shifted up a gear. The tension was almost unbearable as Greg Minaar left the start house as the final rider of the day. The New Zealand powerhouse that is Cameron Cole had just steamed into second place with a run that looked like it might have made Gee moisten the leaders hot seat with a little bit of nerve-water and as Greg sprinted down the home straight, the South African looked set to challenge the Brits time. However, Minaar could only manage third crowning Gee the winner.   

"It's a dream come true," said Atherton. "This is the most excited I've ever been about winning a race. I owe it to the crowd. I could hear them as I came out of the woods at the bottom, and it pushed me harder."  

With 420 points, Minnaar continues to lead the men's series by 15 points over Atherton. Cole is a distant third on 282 points.  

MEN'S DOWNHILL FINAL RESULTS    1.Gee Atherton GBR (4:35.70)  2. Cameron Cole NZL (4:36.18)  3.Greg Minnaar (4:36.91)  4. Aaron Gwin USA  (4:37.71)  5. Michael Hannah (4:37.75)   

WOMEN'S DOWNHILL FINAL RESULTS    1. Sabrina Jonnier FRA (5:11.57)  2. Rachel Atherton GBR (5:12.68)  3. Floriane Pugin FRA (5:16.44)  4. Tracy Moseley GBR (5:16.46)  5. Emmeline Ragot FRA (5:20.65) 

Channels: UCI MTB World Cup DHI 2010 - Scotland, Mountain Bike