Posted by Editoress on 06/5/16
Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) took his 19th World Cup win in Fort William on Sunday at the fourth round of the Downhill World Cup, adding to the overall record he holds for men, in front of an estimated 25,000 spectators. Minnaar finished with a time of four minutes and 35.601 seconds, 3.357 seconds ahead of Aaron Gwin (The YT Mob), with Danny Hart (MS Mondraker) taking third, a further 0.638 seconds back. Top Canadian in Elite men was Forrest Riesco, in 47th place. Mark Wallace (Devinci Global) was 66th. Legend Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate) competed for the last time at Fort william, finishing a respectable 29th, less then three seconds out of the top-20.
The course really blown out at top, lots of loose gravel and dust due to hot, dry weather. The new woods section wascausing lots of problems for everyone (men and women); full of slippery roots and rocks. World Cup women's leader Rachel Atherton (Trek Factory Racing DH) crashed in qualifying.
The early leader was the fourth starter, Graeme Mudd, who led held until the 31st starter Philip Atwill (Propain Dirt Zelvy). Atwill was bumped by the 61st starter, Brook Macdonald (GT Factory Racing), who lasted through one rider before Remi Thirion (Fra) Commencal / Vallnord replaced him, only to be knocked off the Hot Seat five riders later by Greg Minnaar. Gee Atherton (Trek Factory Racing DH), the fastest qualifier, crashed early on his run, opening the door for Minnaar. The UCI and organizers also slotted in a ghost run for Canada's Steve Smith with ten riders to go.
"I grew up racing in the UK," said Minnaar, "so it feels like my home race away from home. It's a tough track to ride, but it's about just putting this one together. I don't know what it is. I didn't think my time was going to last, but somehow I managed to pull some time at the bottom. Yeah, I was [a bit nervous in the Hot Seat] I was also getting nervous for some of the crashes coming down. Not good to see any of the guys go down."
"Today was special. I haven't had a great start to the season and we put a ton of effort into this event. We're blessed with the sport we were at we are in and we enjoy riding but sometimes it's really hard just to go out there and put the time in and train hard after so many years. Today one was special . This was definitely for Steve [Smith], he's got a special place in our heart."
In the women's race, world champion Rachel Atherton took her third straight victory of the season, and ninth straight World Cup win stretching back to last year, with a time of five minutes and 11.219 seconds. Australia's Tracey Hannah (Polygon UR) finished second, 12.049 seconds back, followed by Manon Carpenter (Madison Saracen) at 20.889 seconds. Canada's lone entry, Jaime Hill, finished 20th.
Katy Curd, the 16th starter, set the first fast time, and held it until final four starters. Manon Carpenter bobbled in woods and then crashed further down pushing too hard, try to make up lost time (she had been sitting in seconnd), and finished third. Atherton's ninth win ties her with the legendary Anne Caroline Chausson for consecutive wins.
"I didn't even think about that coming into the weekend," admitted Atherton, "but I can't believe it nine wins in a row, including last year. Winning in Fort William tops it every time. It's so cool. All the family here and the fans going mad. Hopefully now I can have the rest the day to say hi to everyone. I was just so nervous before."
Canada's Finnley Iles (Specialized Gravity p/b SRAM) won the Junior Men's competition, taking his second World Cup win of the season, with a time of four minutes and 52.075 seconds. Gaetan Vige (Commencal/Vallnord) was second, 3.53 seconds back. In other Canadian results, Adam Robbins (Eastern States Cup North American DH Team) finished 13th, Henry Fitzgerald (Steve Peat Syndicate) was 17th and Bracken Camilleri was 28th.
Both Atherton and Gwin continue to lead the overall standings at the end of the third round. Atherton has 730 points, with Carpenter moving up to second from third at 540 points, and Hannah going into third from fourth, a further 35 points back. Former second place Tahnee Seagrave (Transition Factory/FMD) drops to fifth after she did not race due to injury. Jaime Hill, the only Canadian in the rankings, is 34th.
Gwin, at 560 points, leads Troy Brosnan (Specialized Racing) by 68 points, with Hart a distant third, 192 points behind Gwin. Loic Bruni (Specialized Gravity p/b SRAM), winner of Round 2, drops to fourth after injury kept him out of Fort William. Mark Wallace drops to 26th from 13th in the rankings, with Riesco at 55th.
Iles leads the Junior men with 120 points after taking his second win, followed by Matt Walker (Madison Saracen) at 100 points and Vige at 75. Robbins is 23rd in the standings and Fitzgerald 24th.
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