Update: 12.30, Sunday
The men’s race set a cracking pace over 5 laps, racing a total of 42.5kms over what has proved to be a truly world class course.
Filip Merhaeghe, Specialized’s Belgian rider took the victory by 8 seconds over Germany’s Ludo Fumic who had 11 seconds over Julien Absalon from France. World Champ and hot favourite Roland Green went down on the roots.
Top placed Brit Liam Killeen stormed to 18th place, 4.23 down on the leader but a stunning result from such a young rider. Next Brits were Nick Craig at 59th (+13.03) and Oli Beckingsale at 67th (+15.02). “It was a very bad day at the office.” said Oli.
The course climbed up through fireroad to about 800 feet, but had some terrific sections of singletrack carved through the forest, evil climbs and some very technical rooty descents you’d want to be on a full susser yourself to tackle.
Fionn Griffiths had a day to forget, failing to take the top two results in either the semi or the small final. Katrina Miller won the final, with Japan’s Moi Suemasa exploding through the finish to outpace Tara Llanes and Anneke Beerten.
Steve Peat made the final, but a tangle at the first corner took three riders out: Steve, Erick Carter and Michal Prokop, leaving Greg Minaar to saunter home to victory.
Brian Lopes managed to break his ankle on the 1/16 finals, which is the last thing he needed after just coming back to form following his previous injury. Ross Tricker got one of those impossible draws, with Meyenborg and Vazquez Lopez on top form. He styled it home.
Heat 19 in the 1/8 finals saw Steve Peat, Nigel Page and Scott Beaumont take on Saladini; Peaty and Boom Boom went through, with Scott powering through from final place at the top of the course to take 2nd. Dave Wardell was riding well and was unlucky to draw Will and Michal Prokop in Heat 21.
No doubting the rider of the day though: Gee Atherton showed the form we’ve begun to expect; when Gracia made a mistake in Heat 23, Atherton flew past him (literally) and took 2nd place. In Heat 28 he beat Bas de Bever and Mike King to finish behind Minaar. He could well have made his mark in the semi-final, had a crash not put him back to 4th.
Women’s Downhill Final Qualifying
There are more Brits in the final than you can shake a stick at… Celine Gros takes the final slot after her time of 4.49.36 this morning made her fastest, seconds ahead of Sabine Jonnier and Tracy Moseley (+1.68). Helen Gaskell came 13th (+19.79); Fionn 23rd (+57.47) and Jaymie Mart and Rhian Atherton were under a second apart at +1.08.35 and +1.08.93.