The 2014 downhill MTB season kicked off over the weekend with Round 1 of the British Downhill Series in Antur Stiniog, Wales.
With the majority of the top women riders competing, including World Champion Rachel Atherton and Junior World Champion Tahnee Seagrave, it was the perfect opportunity to get a sense of how they are riding and what the year ahead holds.
It’s shaping up to be a good one. Rachel Atherton won both the World Cup Series and the World Championships last year, but Manon Carpenter was hot on her heels and placed second in a number of races; will she take a win at World Cup level this year? Tahnee Seagrave moves up to the Elite category after winning the Junior World Champs last year, so now goes head to head with Atherton and Carpenter. And making her return to DH is Katy Curd, who dominated the 4X Pro Tour in 2013.
Antur Stiniog is a purpose built bike park in North Wales with a number of downhill tracks running over moorland, sharp and loose shale and rock outcrops. The location can be very exposed, which makes racing in windy conditions particularly tricky.
Although the weather stayed dry for the weekend, the track was slippery and there were a fair few crashes on the wet slate. Riders tracked mud from higher on the course down its length, dissolving any grip that was present.
The racing itself was gripping, and a sign of great things to come this season.
Katy Curd was looking good for her return to DH after a break of a couple of years, but her race was sadly curtailed by a mechanical issue.
Rachel Atherton tried a few different bike and wheel sizes in the practice runs, before settle on the 650b wheels, though commented that the bike felt big on UK track, compared to a World Cup track.
Incredibly close to Atherton in her race times, Manon Carpenter seems fit and ready for the season ahead, with her aim to claim a World Cup victory clearly stated.
Racing against the Elite Women, Tahnee Seagrave had a solid run and showed she can mix it up with the fastest girls.
Atherton claimed the win, with Carpenter in close second, and Seagrave in third. Fionn Griffiths and Jess Stone completed the podium in what was an exciting start to the season.
— rachel atherton (@rachelatherton) March 30, 2014
Women’s Results – BDS Round 1, Antur Stiniog
- Rachel Atherton – GT Factory Racing – 2:45.616
- Manon Carpenter – Madison Saracen Factory Team – 2:48.962
- Tahnee Seagrave – FMD Racing – 2:59.866
- Fionn Griffiths – Team GR – 3:02.395
- Jessica Stone – TREK Coventry – 3:06.498
- Suzanne Lacey – Team Aston Hill – 3:26.373
- Katy Curd – Rose Vaujany Gravity MTB Team – 3:44.436
- Jessica Greaves – Team Skene – 4:06.785
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