Posted by Editoress on 08/7/15
Round 6 of the Downhill series in the Mountain Bike World Cup opened with qualifying on Friday, in Windham, New York. World Cup leaders Rachel Atherton (GT Factory) and Aaron Gwin (Specialized) easily won the women's and men's races, respectively, with Atherton mathematically locking down the women's overall title with one race remaining.
Under perfect conditions, with sun and a slight breeze, the riders tackled the 1.628 kilometre run. Dry, dusty conditions made the rough and rooty course slippery, and more then one rider slid out in a corner.
Atherton was the first rider down for the women, and her time of 3:05.135 was nearly 2.4 seconds better then second placed Myriam Nicole (Commencal/Vallnord), with Tahnee Seagrave (FMD Racing) a distant third at nearly ten seconds. With Emmeline Ragot (MS Mondraker), the second ranked rider in the series, absent due to injury, only world champion Manon Carpenter (Madison Saracen) had even a remote chance of beating Atherton in the standings, and she finished fourth, meaning the 50 World Cup points the British rider scored with her qualifying win were enough to put her out of reach of any other rider.
Top ranked Canadian woman Casey Brown (Bergamont Hayes) finished seventh, with Kristen Courtney, the only other Canadian competitor finishing in 21st, just outside of qualifying for the final.
One qualifier of note was Missy Giove (US National), the 1994 world champion and winner of 11 World Cups before retiring in 2003. Giove, who says that she has ridden downhill less then 20 times in the past decade, qualified 17th after requiring a re-run due to a stoppage in racing during her run.
The men's competition is much closer, and Gwin's win, while 2.3 seconds faster then Loic Bruni (Lapierre Gravity Republic), only added 10 points to his lead over Bruni in the overall standings. Fourth ranked Troy Brosnan (Specialized) finished third and third ranked Greg Minnaar fourth, so the men's title is certainly in play.
Steve Smith (Devinci Global Racing), who is coming back from a series of injuries, qualified a strong eighth. His team mate Mark Wallace, who is the top-ranked Canadian man in 19th, had an unspecified problem on his run, but will race the final since he is a protected rider. Other Canadian qualifiers are Kirk McDowall in 58th, Forrest Riesco in 74th, Hugo Langevin in 78th and Jack Iles (Norco Factory) in 79th.
In the Junior men's qualifying, Jacob Dickson (Orange Dirt World, XFusion) was the fastest, 1.1 seconds ahead of Andrew Crimmins (Kona Factory). World Cup leader Laurie Greenland (Trek World Racing) struggled on his run, finishing seventh. The top Canadian qualifier was Jack Almond (Team Canada) in 16th, followed by Henry Fitzgerald (Steve Peat Syndicate Global) in 17th, national champion Magnus Manson (Norco Factory) in 22nd and Adam Robbins (Team Canada) in 25th.