Ratboy takes overall lead while Ragot blows women's race wide open
The Downhill World Cup will not be decided until the very last race of the season after Josh Bryceland and Emmeline Ragot topped the podiums in Windham on Saturday.
Bryceland took the lead in the men’s elite overall standings, with Troy Brosnan and Aaron Gwin close behind, while Ragot trimmed Manon Carpenter’s advantage to just 70 points.
After winning his first World Cup in Leogang at Round 4, British rider Bryceland became the first man to win two races in 2014 with victory in the USA.
Title contender Gwin came close to winning on home soil but fastest qualifier Bryceland knocked him into second place with the final run of the day, by 1.5 seconds, while Brosnan finished third.
With under 100 points separating the top three riders and one race remaining the overall title is still up for grabs, but Bryceland is growing in confidence.
“After doing that I’m feeling pretty good,” he said. “I laid it all on the line in qualifying so to take two seconds off that, I didn’t know I had it in me.
“I’m really happy and I just rode my best. It wasn’t easy but it feels good.”
New Zealand’s Sam Blenkinsop set a good early pace, powering through the lower sections, and recorded a time of 2.27.544.
On the shortest track of the season, times were expected to be close and Brosnan eventually knocked the Kiwi, who ended up in a season-best fourth place, off the top by just over a second.
However, American Gwin took his teammate's place in the hotseat as he searched for a third-straight victory in Windham but he was denied by Bryceland who stunned the field with a time of 2.24.332.
In the women’s race, Carpenter needed a top-three finish to seal her first World Cup title and was in the hotseat until Australian Tracey Hannah came in 1.7 seconds faster.
However, French rider Ragot smashed Hannah’s time and then watched fastest qualifier Rachel Atherton come in slightly slower to confirm her second win of the season.
And with the final round of the season taking place in Meribel for the first time at the end of the month, Ragot is hoping she can win the overall title in front of her home crowd.
“It will be good event and a lot of people will be there so it’s going to be great,” she said.
“Today was good, I rode fast in training and tried to push myself. I was so focused and went full on.”
Round 7 of the UCI Downhill World Cup kicks off in Meribel on Thursday 21st August.