World Cup downhill: Athertons rule the roost

Rachel & Gee complete amazing weekend triple

Women's race: Rachel Atherton scores family win number two

Rachel Atherton (Animal Commencal) continued her family’s dominance in the gravity events this weekend when she won the women’s downhill, beating Sabrina Jonnier by almost eight seconds in the final.

Atherton qualified in second place. Leading to excited talk of another win in the Atherton camp. In the finals the pressure showed.

Scoring the fastest ride in the in the semi-final put big focus on the youngest in the family. With the disappointment and knowledge of the mistakes she’d made three weeks previously made in Maribor it was never going to be an easy sell.

Pressure seemed to sit very comfortably with Rachel though and in a cool, focussed style she reversed the result, beating Jonnier and making it a second win in under 24 hours for Clan Atherton.

“I was a bit worried about the track at first because it was so cut up,” Rachel said after her win. “but together we practiced the right lines and I was able to become more confident as the week went on. On this kind of track there were always going to be mistakes, but I was confident because I could afford to make a few and soldier on.”

Men's race: Gee completes astounding Atherton triple

Animal Commencal rider Gee Atherton completed his family’s amazing triple win when he took out the men’s downhill on Sunday afternoon, edging out world champion Sam Hill (Monster Energy / Iron Horse) by just 0.31 seconds.

After Rachel Atherton won the women’s event in the morning, the possibility for a triple win had the Atherton camp buzzing. But it wasn’t going to be easy.

Gee Atherton undoubtedly had the talent to win but for many tipsters the course just played to too many of Sam Hill’s strengths.

Initially the weather was much improved – the course even drying for a short time – but as the top riders started their runs rain began to fall.

It looked like an obvious choice; these conditions were made for Hill and when he came over the line and dislodged Greg Minnaar, celebrations were already underway. Hill’s arms were aloft, the white jersey readied and journalists writing the story of another Hill win.

What they underestimated though was the belief held by the Atherton family. Nothing could damage morale, the unit is so strong and winning twice already only added to that.

At the split it was clear – today Hill was not alone.

The delirious excitement at the finish was unprecedented. Fans, press and of course family stormed the finish zone to experience an unforgettable moment in mountain bike history.

For the following hour a throng followed every step of an Animal-Commencal-Atherton dominated presentation and loved every second.

Today there was a new beginning in downhill and fourcross racing which will add to the excitement for the rest of the series.

After the race of his life Gee Atherton could not contain his excitement, but he was already looking forward to next week’s Fort William round: the team’s home race.

“I’m pretty stoked this has happened,” said Gee. “We have been working on it for a while it’s something we’re always aiming at and for it to come off now it is just surreal.

“I am really looking forward to the rest of the season now, I can get into the travelling and the racing and get stronger as I go along. There is always more to come, I can always improve and I’m confident of doing that. That’s what I love about the sport.”

Gee’s sister Rachel summed up the family’s mood. “I am so proud of us all, Dan yesterday and Gee under pressure pulled it off, it was perfect really.”

Results

Men

  1. Gee Atherton (GBr) Animal Commencal
  2. Samuel Hill (Aus)
  3. Greg Minnaar (RSA)
  4. Steve Peat (GBr)
  5. Samuel Blenkinsop (NZl)

Women

  1. Rachel Atherton (GBr)  Animal Commencal
  2. Sabrina Jonnier (Fra)
  3. Floriane Pugin (Fra)
  4. Tracy Moseley (GBr)
  5. Emmeline Ragot (Fra)

For full results see Cyclingnews.com.

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