Fort William was as challenging as ever this weekend, but at least Saturday night’s deluge didn’t cause any lasting damage to the track. Morning practice was difficult with a lot of slippery patches and rain ruts but once racing began the sun had come out and the ground was drying out well.
Mille was first up. She qualified second yesterday and the team were optimistic that she could podium here but a mistake in the top section put her outside of the tapes when she couldn’t make the turn. She lost almost a minute climbing back up but she set off again only to have a massive OTB.
Mille pedaled to the line in 5th place but collapsed in the finish arena and was stretchered off. Thankfully a hospital check confirmed that no serious damage was done.
Mille said “ Everything was hurting, I couldn’t see, I was just trying to hold on so when I got to the finish my body just gave up, but I’m OK, it’s alright, thanks to everyone who looked after me and congratulations to Vali on the win.”
In the Junior Men Kade had qualified comfortably in second. There was plenty of drama as Jamie Edmondson powered into the lead by 6.5 seconds, then Thibault Daprela was up by 4.6 seconds by split 2. He crossed into first , 4 seconds up, Henry Kerr flatted then Kade was on course.
Kade said “ Things went wrong from the start, I couldn’t find any flow, made mistakes, I was just trying too hard.”
Kade crossed into second behind Daprela then last man on the hill Kye Ahern went 0,76 faster than Thibault and Kade was pushed down to third.
A Fort William podium is an amazing achievement in anybody’s books but Kade is hungry for that World Cup win!
But Kade wasn’t the only member of the team who’d be disappointed with a third today. Rachel’s chain snapped right out of the start gate. Her skills and experience meant that she was still very fast through the top section but a slip in the woods put her on the ground and losing a lot of time. Even with all of this Rach was fast enough to go into third causing commentators to dub her run “one of the best rides at Fort William ever.”
Rachel said “My chain went on the second pedal out of the gate, I couldn’t believe it but I thought well, I better just crack on! I pushed hard, tried to pump and kept as tucked as I could. I’m actually heart-broken but that’s racing and that’s Fort William!”
Fellow Brit Tahnee Seagrave took her first Fort William win with Myriam Nicole in second.
Then on to the Mens’s Elites. Privateer Reece Wilson headed up an all British top 5 when Charlie came on course.
Charlie smashed the top section going into the green but the advantage was lost by split 2… it was still a strong performance. He crossed into 3rd, enough for an eventual 14th place, just 0.9 up on Gee who finished 15th.
Gee was up at split 1but had lost the advantage to go 0.5 down by split 3. Gee said “ a couple of small mistakes cost me a lot of time but it’s good to be feeling back up to speed.“
In some immensely close racing ( 0.3 separted the top 3) 7th qualifier Amaury Pierron took the win with Loris Vergier 2nd , Troy Brosnan in 3rd and Reece Wilson in 4th.
1 Vali Holl 5.21.69
2 Paula Zibasa 5.50.89 +29.2
3 Anna Newkirk 5.50.93 +29.2
1 Kye A’hern Canyon Factory Downhill Team 4.42.41
2 Thibault Daprela Commencal/Vallnord 4.43.17 +0.76
3 Kade Edwards Trek Factory Racing DH 4.45.07 +2.65
1 Tahnee Seagrave Transition bikes/Muc-off 5.10.96
2 Myriam Nicole Commencal/Vallnord 5.19.21 +8.25
3 Rachel Atherton Trek Factory Racing DH 5.20.01 +9.05
4 Marine Cabirou Voulvoul racing 5.21.76 + 10.82
5 Tracey Hannah Polygon UR 5.22.74 +11.78
1 Amaury Pierron 4.35.45
2 Loris Vergier Santa Cruz Syndicate 4.34.72 +0.27
3 Troy Brosnan Canyon Factory Downhill team 4.34.76 +0.31
4 Reece Wilson 4.35.77 +1.32
5 Loic Bruni Specialized Gravity 4.37.03 +2.5
14Charlie Hatton Trek Factory Racing DH 4.38.38 + 3.9
15 Gee Atherton Trek Factory Racing DH 4.39.34 +4.8