Athletes, sponsors and fans descended in mass numbers upon Fort William for the 3rd round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.
Unlike last year’s hellish weather conditions, which caused a number of crashes and slide-outs, this weekend welcomed blue skies with dry and dusty trail conditions.
The 2.8km track is famous for being fast, technical and a serious challenge for any rider. With a new forest root section catching out a majority of riders in practice rounds, this event was wide open for the taking.
With the recent and unexpected passing of Stevie Smith, a passionate and fun personality of the mountain bike industry, the atmosphere was emotional. Celebrating the life of this legendary rider, a tribute ride on Saturday saw riders making their way down sporting a Stevie “Chainsaw” Smith t-shirt.
After crashing in the British Downhill Series at Bala, Tahnée Seagrave pulled out of the final race at Fort Bill, not feeling fit enough to participate.
Sunday finals welcomed more great weather, but with the practise rounds and qualifiers on Saturday, the track was looking even more sketchier than before.
The Elite women’s category was began with some explosive and surprising pedal work from Australian rider, Tracey Hannah. Really packing a punch, Tracey sailed through the finish line with a time of 5:23.268.
Having a great qualifying run on Saturday, Manon Carpenter was hot on the heels on Rachel Atherton for that top spot on the podium. Having suffered a near career ending crash at Fort Bill in 2015, Manon looked ready to smash it this year.
During her final run, Manon couldn’t keep the speed in control and slid out through the barrier and into an spectator. Getting back on the bike and giving it her all for the last leg, Manon got herself a time of 5:32.108.
Having started the season with her new sponsor, Trek, Rachel Atherton has been on a hot streak of wins throughout the World series. Exploding out of the gate and charging down the tight rocky switchbacks, it looked like the World Champ struggled as she dabbed the foot early on to keep her balance and momentum.
In true Atherton fashion, Rachel’s determination and speed carried her into the pits with a time of 5:11.219.