July 01, 2012 (Windham, New York) – The heat pushed 28 celsius, the rain never showed and Aaron Gwin (USA) Trek World Racing took the competition to school one more time here in Windham. Rachel Atherton (Gbr) GT Factory Racing took home the gold for the women, after a commissaire’s decision almost took it away.
For Canada it was a breakthrough weekend as Canada’s Steve Smith (Devinci Global Racing) had the run of his young career today, racing to his best-ever World Cup finish with a second place on Canada Day. Fellow Canuck Micayla Gatto (PerformX Young Guns) dazzled with another top level run just off the podium in 6th.
It was hot, dusty and loose on the track in Windham all week, and race day was no different. The track started to come apart yesterday and it was a hole-filled freeway by the time the women took to it on Sunday.
Atherton went off the hip jump before the final straightaway and swapped back and forth, went off course, came back in and still powered her way across the line, up by mere tenths of a second on Tracey Hannah (Aus) Hutchinson United Ride and Emmeline Ragot (MS Mondraker Team) of France. Due to the excursion off course, the UCI had to review her run, and in the end decided that Atherton gained no advantage and therefore the victory would stand.
Atherton was excited with her win this week. “My run was pretty wild. I have never seen a track this wild to race. You had to really hang it out. Watching the guys out there right now, it’s completely out of control. It’s pretty cool. I’m glad the commissaire’s finals decision was that I lost time and didn’t gain it – I’m stoked! I came out of that section and it was so windy I got blown. I almost went over the bars, and swapped out, it was gnarly!”
Gatto (PerformX Young Guns) continued her success streak on Canada Day matching her best-ever WCup that she nailed at Mont-Ste-Anne with another 6th place finish, just off the podium here in New York and is now 13th overall in the standings.
For Gwin it was yet another victory, only this time in front of the home country fans in New York. “This is unreal. I remember the feeling after winning last year, You feel a bit more pressure at home, but you have so much more support. To be able to do it again here in front of everybody, it’s another once in a lifetime thing I will never forget.
“I saw the times before I went up because I went up super late. I don’t really like to know, but I saw they were running 29s and I ran a 27 in quali. I knew I had more time in me, but the track was getting harder. I almost threw it away before the first split, I barely stayed on the track. I blew my chain off again in the same spot [as qualifiers], but luckily it went back on this time.”
For Smith it was redemption for his MSA run which wasn’t to his liking but in New York he was all smiles posting his best ever World Cup finish on Canada Day. “This feels unreal, it was a crazy feeling coming across the line and knowing I maybe could have won. It’s sick for Aaron to have come through on home soil.
“I started extremely aggressive right off the start because it’s a short track, but I nearly shit my pants and crashed in the first corner, and then the second. I said ok, tone it down and I rode great from then on.”
The World Cup now takes a break for a few weeks until resuming at a new venue, in Val Disere, France.
Full results HERE.