Home favourite Gee Atherton (Commencal) blitzed his way to the win in a thrilling men's downhill final at today's UCI Mountain Bike World Cup round in Fort William, Scotland.
When Mick Hannah (GT) crossed the line in 4:37.75, setting a new course record, it looked like the chances of a British win were slim. But the dry and dusty conditions meant the track was super-fast and Hannah's record was short lived.
An astonishing four riders went on to set faster times – Aaron Gwin (Yeti - Fox Shox), Cameron Cole (Maxxis - Rocky Mountain), Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) and Atherton. Sam Hill (Monster Energy - Specialized) had chosen not to compete after a bad crash during qualifying.
When Atherton crossed the line in 4:36.18, after clocking 62km/h at the speed trap, the victory looked to be his and the partisan crowd went wild, in scenes reminscent of Steve Peat's win on the same course in 2005. But last-man-down Minnaar can never be counted out, so Atherton's fans breathed a collective sigh of relief when he finished 1.21 seconds down.
Atherton said winning at Fort William was a "dream come true" and he was "the most excited I've ever been about winning a race". Asked how he got down the hill so quickly, he said: "It was all the crowd. I could hear them as soon as I came out of the woods. They were just so noisy, so good."
Greg Minnaar put in a scorching time but it wasn't enough to unseat Gee Atherton