On the final day for the DH it was a family affair once again like last weekend in Fort William, Scotland, as Rachel and Gee Atherton (Gbr) GT Factory Racing took home the wins in both the women’s and men’s downhill races at round #2 of the UCI World Cup Downhill series.
The sun shone all weekend and made the track treacherous as massive braking bumps formed and holes got deep enough to swallow up entire wheels. The deep, loose talc like dirt made it difficult to predict when traction would give way, as well as what the track would be like on your next run. Berms appeared and disappeared randomly and outside lines got pushed further and further under the tape as the day went on.
First Rachel Atherton nailed her victory with a solid 5+second gap over Emmeline Ragot (Fra) Lapierre Gravity Republic in second with Floriane Pugin (Fra) GSTAAD-Scott another 7s back in third.
Only two Canadian women qualified for the final and Casey Brown (Dirt Norco Race Team) put in a great run finishing just off the Elite Women’s podium in 6th while Micayla Gatto (Perform X Commencal) put in a top-10 effort to finish in 10th place on the day.
When Rachel saw her brother Gee crossed the finish line victorious, she was over the moon. “Wow. I can’t believe how many people are up there, it’s unreal! The noise all the way down is amazing. The holes were massive, i tried to go around them like water, nice and smooth!”
For the men, Gee put down a scorching run, just edging out Canada’s Smith by 1.001s for the win. Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) of South Africa was third having been in the hot seat until Smith bested his time. Smith, who took third at the World Cup last week in Great Britain, posted the third fastest time in the qualifications on Friday.
“It was amazing. Such a good race, I’m stoked to do it all over again after last weekend. It’s great to do it alongside Rach,” said Atherton, “The track was ruined, it wasn’t so much the holes, but the little things holding you up. The berms and rust you’d relied on all weekend were powdered. You had to try and predict where that line was you couldn’t push past. I knew a lot of guys wouldn’t make it down. There’s got to be someone who stays on, I was trying to ride that middle line.”
Smith was visibly frustrated on the hot seat at being beat, but a few minutes later it was all smiles. “It’s funny how your brain works that way. It’s hard getting second as you’re the first loser, but I’m still really happy. It’s a tough track and my bike worked amazing all weekend. I don’t think I even had a tip-over all week. Second is great, and it’s amazing for points. Crossing in first, I had that feeling I could actually win, but Gee rode well and beat me, next race!”
Remi Gauvin from Perform X Commencal was only other Canadian man to qualify and ended his day in 72nd place.
The racing kicked off on Sunday, the final day of the competitions with Mark Wallace (Devinci Global Racing) racing to a solid 7th-place finish in the Junior Men’s DH competition as Australia’s Dean Lucas took the win. Fellow Canuck McKay Vezina placed 17th.