It feels entirely appropriate that Rachel should take the 100th British World Cup win (across DH and XC) today in Leogang. 35 of those wins have been down to Rachel herself and a further 9 of them are due to Gee – placed 18th here today.
It was a brutal weekend for the team with Junior rider Mille and Charlie Hatton out after practice crashes left them unable to race and Rachel in a lot of pain from a Qualis tumble that left her with a badly bruised leg.
Kade was disappointed with fourth place today.
Straight after trackwalk the riders reported that it was all change in Austria… and for the better. Out of the start gate there are no more easy berms, instead it’s steep, grassy and off camber, overall the most challenging course for years.
The back to back rounds didn’t allow much recovery time so all of the teams were still pretty battered from Fort William – a factor maybe in the prevalence of practise crashes across the board…along with a night of heavy rain, thick fog and a fresh-cut course! Riders started to relax a little as ruts formed but the new sections were definitely an issue!
In Saturday’s qualifications Kade had qualified 3rd to Thibault Daprela and Kye Ahern. He had a great top section ahead at splits 1 and 2 and had plenty more in the tank to push on the bottom sections so he was feeling strong as he headed into today’s Finals. But it was not to be, a mistake in the top section where he hit a big rock spoiled his flow and lost him significant time, 4th in 3.23.89
In the Women’s Quals Rach went down hard in a fresh bit of track with rut that had been getting deeper all weekend. Her bike got tangled on a pole and cost her a lot of time, qualifying back in 16th place…
When Rach came on track for Finals there were still 7 women at the top of the hill and Sian Ahern was in the hotseat. Rach came out fast! Carrying a lot of speed through the technical off-camber section, she was up 5 seconds on Ahern by split 1, extended to a massive 10 seconds by split 3! The team caught their breath as Rach had a tiny stall but she recovered well, extending her lead by split 4 and crossing the line almost 12 seconds clear. But her stay in the hotseat wasn’t a restful time, just 2 runs later Myriam Nicole was in touch from the start, moving to within 0.5 by split 3, she gained on Rach through the woods going 0.5 clear but then post split 4 a ragged ride lost her time – crossing into second 0.6 back from Rach.
Then all eyes were on Tahnee Seagrave, Tahnee dropped low on the off camber section, recovered but she was 0.8 down by the first split, 1.6 down by split 2. She looked as if she would cross into third place today but disaster struck at the jumps, she was blown off course and outside the tapes and DQ’ed.
In the Men’s Elite Gee had qualified 29th after a disappointing run where he had struggled to find his flow. He put in a solid run in Finals to cross into the hotseat but he struggled to push as hard as he needed to knowing that there were a lot of fast men still on course. Amaury Pierron put in a scorching run to take his second consecutive win and Gee had to settle for 18th place 5.9 seconds off the win.
1 Kye A’hern Canyon Factory Downhill Team 3.19.20
2 Thibault Daprela Commencal/Vallnord 3.19.25 +0.05
3 Henry Kerr Propain Dirt Sixpack 3.21.86 +2.65
4 Kade Edwards Trek Factory Racing DH 3.23.89 +4.6
1 Rachel Atherton Trek Factory Racing DH 3.41.14
2 Myriam Nicole Commencal/Vallnord 3.41.77 + 0.6
3 Tracey Hannah Polygon UR 3.45.11 + 3.9
4 Monica Hrastnik 3.49.59 +8.4
5 Emilie Siegenthaler Pivot Factory Racing 3.52.78 +11.03
1 Amaury Pierron Commencal/Vallnord 3.10.99
2 Aaron Gwin YT Mob 3.11.49 + 0.5
3 Laurie Greenland MS Mondraker team 3.12.14 +1.15
4 Troy Brosnan Canyon Factory Downhill team 3.12.30 +1.31
5 Loris Vergier Santa Cruz Syndicate 3.13.12 +2.1
18 Gee Atherton Trek Factory Racing DH 3.16.98 +5.9