The second rounds of the UCI World Cup Downhill and 4-Cross series, as kicked off at Fort William, got underway at Alpe d’Huez, France this weekend. With Steve Peat still recovering from injuries it was all to play for in the mens’ event, and in the womens’ the return of Anne-Caroline Chausson complete with new sponsor (Commencal) and bike probably caused a few sinking hearts in the other contenders…
Before the downhill, though, there was the small matter of the 4-Cross to attend to. On a course more suited to DH crossover riders than the new generation of ex-BMX 4X specialists, Britain’s Scott Beaumont (Beaumont Racing) put in a great performance to finish third, ahead of Cedric Gracia (Siemens Mobile Cannondale) but behind Michal Prokop and winner Eric Carter (Mongoose Hyundai).
The womens’ event saw Tracy Moseley (Kona Clarks) up against Katrina Miller, Sabrina Jonnier and Tara Llanes. And she won it, not a bad effort since she only took up 4-Cross to sharpen up her bike handling for downhill…
So the standings after round 2 see Eric Carter topping the mens’ table, ahead of Michal Prokop, Greg Minnaar, Scott Beaumont and Cedric Gracia. While in the womens’, Tracy Moseley’s win moves her straight into second place in the standings behind Katrina Miller, with Sabrina Jonnier, Tara Llanes and Moi Suemasa rounding out the top five.
The question was, could Tracy pull off the double? Well, unfortunately not. When Chausson’s racing everyone else is pretty much competing for second place. Sure, she can be beaten, but not this time. Tracy was close – just over three seconds down on a very fast course – but Chausson still took top honours. Third was Celine Gros, ahead of Marielle Saner and Emmeline Ragot. Of the other Brits, Fionn Griffiths and Helen Gaskell posted a pair of respectable top-twenty positions with 9th and 19th respectively.
Having not raced at Fort William, Chausson’s only fifth in the overall standings but there’s another three races to go… Ahead of her are Emmeline Ragot in fourth, Sabrina Jonnier in third, Tracy Moseley in second and Celine Gros in top spot.
Steve Peat didn’t look overly troubled by his ankle and wrist injuries in qualifying, coming in sixth fastest, but in the main event it all slightly adopted the shape of a pear – he rode off the course and ended up in a lowly 59th spot, scoring no points…
Up front it was Nathan Rennie who got on top of the podium, just 0.6 seconds ahead of countryman Chris Kovarik. Fabien Barel was third, Mickael Pascal fourth and Greg Minnaar fifth. Round 1 winner Cedric Gracia could only manage sixth, although as usual the racing was incredibly close with less than three seconds between the top six riders.
Top-placed Brit was Kris Hargreaves with an excellent tenth spot. Elsewhere in the top twenty it looks like the Atherton brothers have some sort of rota going, with this week being Dan’s turn to beat Gee – Dan was 13th, Gee 16th. And Will Longden continues to do well, with a 19th place this round.
Once all of these results have been put through the incomprehensible UCI scoring mincer, the standings have Nathan Rennie in top spot, just a smattering of points ahead of Cedric Gracia, with Mickael Pascal, Chris Kovarik and Greg Minnaar constituting the rest of the top five. There’s a fair few Brits doing OK too, with Gee Atherton just a place ahead of Will Longden in tenth and eleventh respectively, and Kris Hargreaves also inside the top 20 in 18th.
Defending DH champ Steve Peat’s currently down in 24th spot, but there’s a way to go yet and three weeks until the next round at Mont St Anne, Canada.