All the action from Fort Bill World Cup
South Africa’s Greg Minnaar ripped up the downhil track at the British round of the MTB World Cup aboard his spangly new Honda dream machine to take the win by miles.
With the venue being so remote for many, it was fantastic to see thousands of spectators from all around the UK flocking to the Highland town of Fort William in the Nevis range for last weekend’s UCI Mountain Bike World Cup action. And they weren’t disappointed.
There were some huge thrills, but luckily no huge spills, and the men’s 4X race got underway in warm conditions with just a little mild drizzle. Eric Carter and Brian Lopes were both absent and last year’s winner Greg Minaar was present, but due to his high profile contract with Honda, wasn’t racing 4X, only downhill this year.
The course was slightly longer than last years, but most spectators still homed in on the infamous ‘Lumpy Bumpy’ section, which featured a huge triple on the right, and a pair of doubles on the left.
Cedric Gracia put on his usual aerial display in front of the blood-thirsty crowd, and 17-year-old Irish Ripper Ben Reid showed us what he was made of by being one of the five riders that cleared both doubles in one hit. Top work.
Highlight of the race though, had to be Gracia’s crash. He tried to take Steve Peat on the outside of the final turn, and with nowhere to go still aired the step-down into the arena and cart-wheeled his way down the slope.
Men’s 4X medallists
1. Guido Tschugg
2. Sam Hill
3. Romain Saladini
Woman’s 4X medallists
1. Anne-Caroline Chausson
2. Tara Llanes
3. Sabrina Jonnier
The downhill track was better than ever, and with a new bus stop near the top on one of the steeper sections, attracted a huge number of spectators.
Young Rachel Atherton was racing her first ever World Cup event and, looking to have a lot of the skill of her famous brothers, pulled in a fantastic 3rd place in Semi-final and 7th in the Final.
If the spectators were shocked at the high speed of the woman’s DH race, they were downright stunned when Steve Peat set a blistering time in his semi-final run with 4:15.13mins, a staggering 3.98secs faster than Mickael Pascal.
The Final was were all the action was, though. Thousands of people crammed into the gondolas so they could walk their way down the track while cheering on the riders – and cheer they did. We saw air horns, cow bells, traffic cones and mother-in-laws all being used to great effect.
Helen Gaskell kept us Brits proud by putting in an excellent time for third, but had to suffer a loss to the unstoppable Anne Caroline Chausson who took 1st to add to her 4X victory.
In the men’s Final, Gee Atherton placed well with 8th, and managed to sit in the hot seat for his first time, but soon had to remove himself when Barel and Rennie edged their way into the lead.
Man on the move though was Greg Minnaar, on the frighteningly expensive and spanking new Honda G-Cross which, although it sounded like it had a small box of fireworks inside, got the job done and delivered Greg to first place and crate-buying antics in a dodgy bar.
Men’s DH medallists
1. Greg Minnaar
2. Cedric Gracia
3. Sam Hill
Women’s DH medallists
1. Anne-Caroline Chausson
2. Sabrina Jonnier
3. Helen Gaskell
Men’s XC medallists
1. Christoph Sauser
2. Roel Paulissen
3. Filip Meirhaeghe
Women’s XC medallists
1. Gunn-Rita Dahle
2. Marie-Helene Premont
3. Kiara Bisaro