This season of the women's UCI World Cup has been anything but predictable. Who would have thought Rachel Atherton's winning streak would end with a dislocated shoulder inside the treacherous woods of Fort Bill, or that Tahnée Seagrave would finally get her first World Cup win?
With Rachel Atherton missing out on Fort Bill and Leogang, we saw her back in the saddle and raring to go this weekend for Round 4 of the UCI World Cup in Vallnord, Andorra. Qualifiers got underway on Friday with the following results indicating race start positions:
1.Tracey Hannah (AUS) - 4.54:338
2.Myriam Nicole (FRA) - 4.55:399
3.Marine Cabirou (FRA) - 5.02:474
4.Tahnée Seagrave (GBR) - 5.02.892
5.Manon Carpenter (GBR) - 5.03:997
6.Eleonora Farina (ITA) - 5.08:928
7.Emilie Siegenthaler (SUI) - 5.09:785
8.Rachel Athertone (GBR) - 5.10:200
It was surprising to see Rachel qualify so low down the ranks with Tracey Hannah leading 15 seconds over the 2016 champion. Things suggested that Rachel's shoulder may not be back in top form.
The weather was on the rider's side as the elite women's race got underway. Rachel Atherton made a clean and safe run to the bottom fairly early on in the coverage which is to be expected as the steep and technical track would be a challenge on a weak shoulder.
Manon Carpenter is left still seeking her first win since moving to Radon at the start of the season. Next down was Tahnée Seagrave looking hungry to win again after her victory in Leogang. Putting together an excellent run, Tahnée slipped into first place beating Manon and Rachel's time. But with three riders still to descend, would she be able to hold on?
Third qualifier, Marine Cabirou, couldn't touch Tahnée's incredible time which beat the fastest qualifier from the day before. Myriam Nicole began the season on 29" wheels but failing to get comfortable, she reverted back to 27.5" where she certainly looked more at home in her race run where she put on an incredible - almost perfect - run to sail in the first position.
With the pressure on Tracey Hannah, we all gasped when the Austrailian champ crashed during her race run. Getting back in the saddle, it was clear the Myriam Nicole was the winner taking her second World Cup win.
1.Myriam Nicole (FRA)
2.Tahnée Seagrave (GBR)
3.Marine Cabirou (FRA)
4.Rachel Atherton (GBR)