Britain’s Manon Carpenter takes World Cup lead as visitors storm to victory
Over 9,000 fans from all over the world gathered in Lochaber today (Sunday 8 June) to soak up the unrivalled atmosphere and witness the world’s best downhill mountain bikers clash at the Fort William Mountain Bike World Cup.
As the record Sunday crowd basked in the Highland sunshine, they were given numerous nail-biting moments on and around the course with the racing being preceded by a spectacular display from the Red Bull Matador stunt planes, which set the tone for a day full of close shaves.
Despite international domination on the top of the podium, British hero Danny Hart – buoyed by his second in the elite men’s qualifying yesterday and a home support backing him to the hilt – peddled his way to third place in the Men’s Elite Downhill competition, just behind Australian duo Troy Brosnan (first) and Sam Hill (second), in an incredibly tight race.
Commenting on his race win, 20 year old former World Junior Champion from Adelaide, Troy Brosnan, said: “My confidence was high, but the track at Fort William is one of the toughest. You’ve got to give it everything you’ve got. For me to come out on top shows that even the young guys can do it.
“The fans here are another story, there are so many lined down the whole track and the roar as I came down onto the finish line meant I couldn’t focus. I had to just keep peddling until I was over the line.”
In the elite women’s competition, it was not to be for the home riders, as punctures to four of the main contenders dashed British hopes.
Consolation came in the form of Brit Manon Carpenter however, as her final placing meant she took the overall World Cup leaders’ jersey from compatriot Rachel Atherton as the riders and teams hit the road once more, bound for Round 4 in Leogang, Austria.
French rider Emmeline Ragot stormed her way to the win with a flawless run, beating compatriot Myriam Nicole in second spot and Australian Tracey Hannah in third.
On picking up a puncture on her way to becoming the leading rider in the World, Manon Carpenter, said: “I haven’t had a puncture in a race for a very long time and I couldn’t believe it when I realised that my tyre was flat, it went down so fast I thought ‘no-way’.
“I felt great after leading the qualifying yesterday, but I was pretty deflated after today’s race. I just couldn’t believe that people were still cheering when I was coming slowly down the hill with my puncture.
“It’s awesome to be back in Fort William, and at least I made it to the podium as number one in the rankings.”
It was a day full of celebration, not only as one of the greatest mountain biking events in the world, but as South African Greg Minaar marked his 100th World Cup start and British legend Steve Peat looked ahead to his 40th birthday next week.
Meanwhile, Inverness-born Greg Williamson spent most of his 22nd birthday on the hot seat as the race leader – eventually finishing ninth and the highest placed Scot.
The birthday boy confirmed that it was indeed a day to remember, when he said: “I’m absolutely thrilled, both by being top Scot and securing a top-10 finish, what a way to celebrate my 22nd birthday.
“It was unreal at the finishing line when the crowd was singing to me. My ride down the hill was a good one, it didn’t feel too fast and that’s normally how it goes when you are having a good run. I just thought I would keep going and managed to get ninth spot, which is brilliant.
“Today was really was special for me, not only was it my birthday, but my family and friends were all here, it’s the track I grew up on and everything went really well. You can’t argue with that.”
Men’s Elite Downhill
1. Troy Brosnan AUS (4:36.580)
2. Sam Hill AUS (4:38.239)
3. Danny Hart GBR (4:38.656)
4. Aaron Gwin USA (4:39.096)
5. Gee Atherton GBR (4:39.722)
Women’s Elite Downhill
1. Emmeline Ragot FRA (5:12.624)
2. Myriam Nicole FRA (5:21.334)
3. Tracey Hannah AUS (5:26.600)
4. Emilie Siegenthaler SUI (5:31.191)
5. Jill Kintner USA (5:35.618)
Junior Men’s Downhill
1. Martin Maes BEL (4:51.072)
2. Loris Bergier FRA (4:52.370)
3. Alex Trillo Marin ESP (4:55.000)
4. Drew Carters GBR (4:55.706)
5. Taylor Vernon GBR (4:55.776)