We’re here at Fort William for the opening round of the 2013 UCI Downhill World Cup and having witnessed some utterly incredible riding today we can safely say that this is going to be an exciting season if you’re a fan of DH.Just look at that view. Fort William in the sunshine is a rare treat, but the weather looks set to hold for the weekend. Here Dirt/Norco team rider Ben Reid flys the upper section on one of his many Friday practice laps.
Photo © Andy Lloyd
Today was practice day for the riders as well as a timed training session at the end of the day. Mick Hannah of Australia and Rachel Atherton were fastest in timed training today, although with many of the top riders taking a relaxed approach to the timed session things are likely to change somewhat at the top of the results sheet come tomorrow’s qualifying. Mick and Rachel will no doubt be up there, but the likes of Aaron Gwin (who was down the sheet today) will be looking to put in a solid effort and make their mark ready for the main event on Sunday.
The track here is looking as tough as ever with huge holes opening up into turns, on straights and pretty much everywhere else in between. Speeds are high with little in the way of wind to slow riders on the wide-open course and the sun is even out, something that can seem like a rare occurrence for a mountain bike race in the Highlands of Scotland if the previous events here are anything to go off! The forecast is dry all weekend and we’re looking forward to cheering the world’s fastest mountain bikers, as are many thousand other spectators.
Here’s a look at the riding from today courtesy of photographer Andy Lloyd and an on-board run with Hutchinson UR’s Tracy Hannah. Stay tuned for more tomorrow!They say the winner of the previous season rides with a target on his back, but for Aaron Gwin, who dominated the 2012 season, there’s more to it than that. Having jumped ship from Trek to Specialized over the winter the pressure is on. We’re fairly sure he’ll cope though.
Photo © Andy Lloyd This is not at all relevant, but en-route to the Highlands we stopped off for a swim in Loch Lomond and felt rather lucky to be visiting such an inspiring landscape. Here Greg Minnaar, current World Champion, puts his casual and graceful style to use on the upper sections whilst trying not to be distracted by the views.
Photo © Andy Lloyd Down and out. Hope’s new signing for 2013 Adam Brayton is one of the most exciting riders on the downhill circuit and his win last weekend at the Innerleithen round of the British Downhill Series, against many of the world’s best riders, proved that he has the skills to go far. Unfortunately he had a big crash today, reportedly breaking his collarbone in the process. Wish him luck for a quick recovery.
Photo © Andy Lloyd Madison/Saracen’s 2013 signing of Sam Dale is looking like a very wise move if his riding today is anything to go by. Sam, along with the likes of Fairclough and Sam Hill, has made the swap to clip-in pedals for the 2013 season. With the track here being so brutally rough and other rounds later in the year featuring a large amount of pedalling it could be a clever move.
Photo © Andy Lloyd Rachel Atherton is looking stronger than ever and super relaxed too. We have our money on her for the win this weekend, failing any major disasters. She’s also on that new GT Fury bike, launched officially on Thursday and which brings the brand’s race bike in-line with 2013 trends. Watch the video to find out more about it.
Photo © Andy Lloyd Britain’s Danny Hart is a firm favourite amongst crowds and also in with a very good shout for the win this weekend. Following a big injury last season the northerner will be gunning for a big result and we hear that he’s been up here learning the track for some time… Look out Fort William.
Photo © Andy Lloyd