Rachel was on form all weekend and decimated the women’s field for the win with a 10.139-second margin. She managed to keep it composed throughout her brother’s race but once Gee crossed the finish line in first all bets were off and the tears began to flow.
“I wish big brother Dan was here. I can’t believe it. I knew Gee was strong, but this is mental,” commented Rachel, “I thought Gee was gonna collapse on the last bit, he looked so tired.”
Rachel was joined on the podium by Manon Carpenter (Gbr) Madison Saracen Downhill Team in second with former World DH champ Emmeline Ragot (Fra) Lapierre Gravity Republic in third.
The top Canadian was Micayla Gatto (PerformX Commencal) in 12th with Vaea Verbeeck just behind in 14th. She was followed by Holly Feniak (Hutchinson UR), the reigning Junior World champ in 22nd and Canadian champ, Casey Brown (Dirt Norco Race Team) in 23rd after suffering a flat.
The men’s race was a battle to the finish with Greg Williamson (Gbr) Trek World Racing setting the best early time that held until that final 20 riders. First Josh Bryceland (Gbr) Santa Cruz Syndicate bumped him and then Samuel Hill (Aus) Chain Reaction Cycles.com / Nukeproof broke the 4:40 barrier.
As the last riders took to the course it was Brook Macdonald (Nzl) Trek World Racing laying down the strongest run followed by Canada’s Steve Smith (Devinci Global Racing) who almost squeaked by him to take over second.
Top contenders Aaron Gwin (USA) Specialized, Danny Hart (Gbr) Giant Factory and Greg Minnaar (RSA) Santa Cruz Syndicate were not able to challenge today leaving it up to local star Gee Atherton and he did not disappoint as he took the win.
“It’s a pretty emotional to win here,” said Atherton. “With my sister winning as well it doesn’t get much better than this.”
Smith discussed his run after the race, “No complaints. Racing was tight and it’s always wet here, but it’s way harder when it’s dry. In the wet the only tough part is the woods and the roots are something we have all the time at home. On loose gravel it’s hard to find where that limit is. Getting to the bottom with a fast run is good. You can’t tell on the way down how fast it is because of how loose the track was. I’m stoked.”
The entire downhill circus now heads to Val Di Sole, Italy for the next World Cup this coming weekend.