Round one of the UCI Downhill World Cup kicked off today here in Fort William on what many riders regard as one of the toughest tracks on the circuit.
Unusually, the weather has been stinking hot and the track bone dry from top to bottom. The upper sections have become even rougher. Even the smoothest riders ranked within the top 10 seem to be getting bucked and rattled as they try and stick to their lines.
The new practice format sees the riders split into an A and B group. The A group consists of male riders ranked within the top 150 while the B group consists of the entire female category, juniors and men ranked outside top 150. The system is one that’s been praised by the riders but does mean the windows for spotting specific riders feels more limited.
It wasn’t until late this afternoon that we saw riders begin to really open things during timed practice, where Michael Hannah took the top spot in the men’s, while Rachael Atherton firmly stamped a mark of authority on the women’s category.
Here’s some of our highlights from the day...