Over 7,000 fans from all over the world gathered in Lochaber today (Saturday 7 June) to witness the greatest mountain bikers on the planet lock handlebars at the Fort William Mountain Bike World Cup.
Fans flocked to the slopes of Aonach Mor and the British athletes once again gave the fervent home support plenty to cheer about.
In a nail-biting finale to the BUFF® Four Cross (4X) Pro Tour finals, Katy Curd gave the expectant crowd their first British win of the weekend with Tomas Slavik from the Czech Republic smashing his way through the field to win the men’s title in incredible style.
Katy Curd said: “I’m ecstatic for taking the win here at Fort William. I was up against some really tough competition, but I knew what I had to do and just went for it.
“I tried to keep focused at the top of the course, but all you can hear is the crowd going wild, it’s incredible. Fort William for me is the best. Coming in first on home soil, the place going crazy, there really is no better feeling.”
Tomas Slavik said: “What a final. It had everything. To win in the way I did, taking a huge gamble to push through from the back using the jump to make up ground. It just sums up what Four Cross is all about.
“The course here at Fort William is one of the best. Big jumps, tight corners and fantastic fans. It’s awesome.
“It’s always so good to come back here, the crowd this year has blown me away. The atmosphere throughout training and the competition has been incredible and the fans have cheered non-stop since they arrived this morning. It has made this win even better.”
On the main downhill course, cult British hero Danny Hart came home second in the elite men’s qualifying, splitting Australian duo Troy Brosnan (first) and Sam Hill (third) in the top three.
In the elite women’s competition, another Brit laid down a substantial marker as Manon Carpenter stormed down the 2.82km course over 10 seconds ahead of the chasing French pack of Myriam Nicole (second) and Emmeline Ragot (third).
Commenting on the atmosphere, Danny Hart said: “I always ride well here, so it’s just a case of putting it all together tomorrow in the final run.
“When you finish towards the end, the crowd is electric, so it’s great to have their support at a home event.
“I have all my friends and family here which makes for a fantastic weekend. Hopefully I can give them something to shout about.”
Manon Carpenter added: “I was quite nervous at the top because I didn’t do a timed run yesterday, so I was unsure of how I would perform, but I managed a smooth run downhill and it worked out well.
“The track was loose in the last few days, but it’s been smoothed out and I got the run I was hoping for today. Hopefully I get something similar tomorrow.
“I really enjoy coming to Fort William every year and the cheering and support from the crowd makes it that bit more special.”
Other notable performances saw Scottish rider Ruaridh Cunningham clocking an impressive run to secure 13th place in qualifying, and despite crashing near the top of the course, Inverness-born Greg Williamson still managed to make the grade and will race in the final tomorrow.
Tahnee Seagrave and Rachel Atherton made up the top five elite female qualifiers.
Fans can now look forward to another day of drama and excitement tomorrow as they wait for their heroes to go for glory with a place on the podium and the most sought after victory of the World Cup calendar.
The event opens to the public at 8.30am on Sunday and tickets can be purchased at the gate, priced at just £16.50 for adults and £9.00 for children (6-17 years). Family packages also available from £43.
Men’s BUFF® 4X Pro Tour Final Results
1. Tomas Slavik CZE
2. Quentin Derbier FRA
3. Scott Beaumont GBR
Women’s BUFF® 4X Pro Tour Final Results
1. Katy Curd GBR
2. Suzanne Lacey GBR
3. Fionn Griffiths GBR
Men’s Downhill Qualification (Top 5)
1. Troy Brosnan AUS (4:40.830)
2. Danny Hart GBR (4:41.939)
3. Samuel Hill AUS (4:42.024)
4. Samuel Blenkinsop NZL (4:43.085)
5. Aaron Gwin USA (4:43.085)
Women’s Downhill Qualification (Top 5)
1. Manon Carpenter GBR (5:09.915)
2. Myriam Nicole FRA (5:20.651)
3. Emmeline Ragot FRA (5:21.215)
4. Tahnee Seagrave GBR (5:22.134)
5. Rachel Atherton GBR (5:26.759)
Junior Men’s Downhill Qualification (Top 5)
1. Luca Shaw USA (4:54:212)
2. Martin Maes BEL (4:55:274)
3. Alex Marin Trillo ESP (4:58:546)
4. Neil Stewart GBR (4:59:959)
5. Taylor Vernon GBR (5:01:247)
ScottishPower Youth Series – Mini Downhill Final
Under 16 Boys winner – Jack McCallum (West Highland Wheelers)
Under 16 Girls winner – Katie Allen (Thomson Cycles)
Under 14 Boys winner – Myles Reid (Perth City Cycles)
Under 14 Girls winner – Tea Jensen (Lesley Bike Shop / Bikers Boutique)
Under 12 Boys winner – Corran Carrick-Anderson (Peebles Cycling Club)
Under 12 Girls winner – Lucy Edmonson (Wolf Packs Riders)
Under 10 Boys winner – Zander Millar Todd (Highland Cycles)
Under 10 Girls winner – Emily Carrick-Anderson (Peebles Cycling Club)