Fort William, Scotland
After a two week break, World Cup DH racing resumed in Fort William, Scotland, the site of the 2007 World Championships and an annual stop for the World Cup circuit. Fort William is a rider favorite, as it is one of the longest courses on the circuit at almost five minutes long and is extremely technically challenging. In addition to the top notch course, Fort William attracts thousands of rabid fans that line the course cheering riders with a deafening roar.
Maxxis-Rocky Mountain’s Sabrina Jonnier owned the World Cup circuit in 2009 winning six events and the World Cup overall title. With the UK’s Rachel Atherton back in 2010 from a serious injury, this season has provided tighter competition for Jonnier. After a second place to Atherton at the Maribor round, Jonnier was looking to get back on top of the podium in Fort William. In qualifying, it was Atherton first, then Jonnier two seconds back in second and France’s Florian Pugin in third place. It was clear that the race would be between Jonnier and Atherton in the finals.
In the finals, one rider after the other took the hot seat in tight succession, but it was the UK’s Tracy Moseley, the 2008 Fort William champion, who set the first time under 5:20 with a 5:16:46. France’s Pugin was down next and squeaked out a tiny two hundredths of a second faster time than Moseley to take the lead. With two riders to go, it was Jonnier blowing the race apart with a five second faster time than Pugin, with most of that advantage gained on the pedaling intensive lower section of the course. Atherton was last to go and only trailed Jonnier at the midway point by half a second, but by the end of the race, she had lost over two seconds. With the win, Jonnier assumed the lead in the series by a scant 15 points.
“”It was a long run,” commented Jonnier. “I hit my pedal on the top section and lost all my speed, but I knew that I could make up the difference at the bottom, so I gave it everything there. All the people cheering were amazing, and it pushed me to go harder.”
Maxxis-Rocky Mountain’s Cameron Cole had a career high 6th placing at last season’s South Africa round of the World Cup, and his 9th place at this year’s opener in Maribor affirmed that the Kiwi can compete with the world’s best. Going into Fort William with more confidence than ever, Cole was looking to make it onto his first ever World Cup podium.
In qualifications, Cole stunned the competition qualifying third fastest behind Maribor winner Greg Minnaar of South Africa and fellow Kiwi Sam Blenkinsop.
Mick Hannah of Australia was the first to finally surpass Minnaar’s qualifying time, and did so by two seconds, with 12 riders remaining. Steve Peat, the clear crowd favourite, was well off the pace, but is still favouring his back after a serious crash in Lisbon a month ago. Hannah’s very fast time stood up until it was the turn of Gee Atherton, the 2008 world champion.
Atherton was looking to finally score the first World Cup win on home soil by this racing family, and he did so decisively, beating Hannah by over two seconds. American Aaron Gwin and Cameron Cole both came close to Atherton, with Cole less than half a second back, but it was the two-time defending track champion Minnaar who looked to have the best chance.
Minnaar came through the second split four-tenths of a second down, and lost the same amount again in the final pedal into the finish for third place behind Cole, to give Atherton his first World Cup win on British soil.
Cameron Cole now sits 3rd overall in the World Cup overall.
source: Peter Vallance
Rocky Mountain Bicycles