In front of a huge home crowd siblings Gee and Rachel Atherton narrowly miss a double victory as they both podium at the British round of the UCI World Cup.
Qualifying in style with nearly 10 seconds advantage over the rest of the field Rachel was looking good for taking her first World Cup win on home soil, however she hadn’t bet on the Scottish weather taking a turn for the worse. Waking up to heavy rain on Sunday morning meant the course ridden on previous days was now looking and riding considerably different. The conditions caught Rach out as she rode her final practice run of the day, slipping off one of the many man made obstacles she fell heavily injuring her neck, receiving some quick treatment from the teams physio Rachel was left sore but still confident going into her race run.
World Champion and current World Cup leader Emmeline Ragot set a blistering time as the finals kicked off, her time of 5.25:027 was nearly 15 seconds slower than Rachels qualifying run the day before but with the weather making such a change to the track it proved to be very strong as rider after rider failed to topple the Frenchwoman, it was looking like a tall task for Atherton to challenge. But challenge she did as she went through the first interval time 1.7 seconds faster, losing time through the middle sector Rachel trailed 2.4 seconds at interval two, a strong lower section meant Rachel dived for the line missing the win by just 1.3 seconds.
“I was just too cautious all the way down, I really didn’t want to throw it away, Emmeline is riding well at the moment and I can’t afford to hold anything back if I’m going to win” commented a deflated Rachel. Trailing Ragot in the overall series by 120 points Rachel moved up to second in the series overtaking 3rd place finisher on the day Myriam Nicole.
In the men’s event it was another wet affair as the rain continued to hammer down throughout the 80 finalists runs, qualifying in second spot behind team mate Marc Beaumont Gee was chasing a repeat of his 2010 result where he claimed the win on his way to winning the World Cup title. It was the current World cup leader Aaron Gwin however that set the early pace, he suffered two crashes in Saturdays qualifying and started further back in the field. His time of 4.48:210 was the time for Gee to beat, Gee didn’t hold back as he went quicker at interval one, an offline stall in the woods meant that advantage was lost coming into Interval two, 4.1 seconds down Gee pushed hard and clawed nearly two seconds back but it wasn’t enough to topple Gwin or second placed rider Danny Hart slotting Gee in third, this left fastest qualifier Beaumont the only one who could stop Gwin. Marc who’s been on great form of late had his dream whipped from beneath him as he slipped on the first wooden board walk crashing had on to the rocks off the side, nursing his bike down after the crash he could do no better than 66th leaving Gwin with his second win and Gee his third podium place of the season.
Gee closed the gap to 60 points on second place Greg Minnaar in the overall but he still sits in third spot while Beaumonts crash moved him back to seventh, for the second event running the team took the team prize and continue to lead the standings as the series now moves over the Atlantic and into round four which takes place in Mt St Anne, Canada.
All Photos: Sven martin