Clockwise from top left: Women’s DH winner Tracy Moseley, women’s XC winner Marie-Helene Premont and men’s 4X winner Jared Graves in action
The mountain bike World Cup came home this weekend to Fort William and for once the sun shone and conditions were dusty. We now know to pack some serious wet-weather gear for next year because this weekend was too good to be true, and we’re still not sure if we imagined the whole thing.
Best result for the Brits came in the downhill, where Tracy Moseley really put on a show for the crowds. So far this year World Champ Sabrina Jonnier and Rachel Atherton have been in their own class, but today Tracy really stepped it up on a favourite curse and claimed a memorable victory – it was like 2005 all over again. Jonnier was second, just edging out Rachel Atherton.
The biggest headlines were however saved for the men’s event as the final positions changed hands plenty of times through the top thirty riders. Beaumont, Bryceland, Leov and Rennie all did time in the hotseat but it was Steve Peat, making amends for last year’s difficult World Champs on this course, who was the first real contender. It was short-lived though, as man of the moment Gee Atherton put together a trademark run to sit pole position and favourite. With one man left to come down the hill a Brit-dominated podium was not unthinkable.
Greg Minnaar was the only man remaining, and ripped up the hillside. Nobody could quite believe three seconds were found somewhere out there, but Gee and Steve were displaced to two and three and a big contingent of South African supporters could have their moment of glory.
The best was yet to come though as on the podium Peaty pulled out a classic Peter Kay kneeslide and Minnaar literally cut the top of his champagne bottle off with his new toy – a traditional four-foot sword! We imagine this will be one prize that won’t make it through airport security…
4X and XC
Earlier in the weekend, the 4X track was dominated by the return of Jared Graves to the slopes. All year he has been fighting to get to the Olympics and race BMX and now phase two of the ultimate season is coming into play. His aim is to win the World Champs and then BMX at the Olympics would be a pretty special double. Following Friday’s performance we’re sure he won’t be too far off either – in every round he was by far the fastest rider and in control.
In the XC Marie-Helene Premont recoded her first World Cup win of 2008, retaining the leader’s jersey and remaining strong overall favourite as we pass the halfway point. For the men Florian Vogel was heading up a Swiss trio on the podium which makes for a fearsome World Champs lineup – Nino Schurter and Christoph Sauser were the other riders in question.
Britain’s own Oli Beckingsale recorded a career best with ninth, just moments off of the leading group and we expect nothing short of a stratospheric result from him a the Worlds – where BM will be live from as of next week. Britain’s best young riders are in with a shout, too – under 23 Ian Bibby finished 39th in the men’s XC . Liam Killeen’s comeback continues with a 26th at Fort William.
For now the World Cup series takes a short break before moving on to Canada, but the World Championships begin with the team relay, next Tuesday. Stay tuned…