Race Preview: British National Championships, Rhyd y Felin
Gee and Rachel Atherton are riding high on a staggering series of four consecutive double victories at Fort William and Val di Sole World Cups, BDS Round 4 at Llangollen and last week’s Polygon Air DH at Crankworx. Can they “Do the double” once more in front of a local crowd to keep hold of their British National crowns?
Marc Beaumont and Taylor Vernon will both sit this one out – Taylor is going to need an extended period of rehab after fracturing 3 vertebrae at Crankworx and Marc is still nursing a nasty gash in his arm sustained in training at Les Deux Alps.
Riders: Gee Atherton, Rachel Atherton
Mechanics: Piotr Michaliszyn, Andy Lund
Bikes: No question! The siblings will be riding the new GT Fury
The course is long, steep in places and technical, with a mixture of open track and tightly packed trees. Rachel says she’ll be wearing double shoulder protection! It’s a brand new course so it should be a level playing field. With the scarcity of rain this week it’s likely to be dusty and very fast!
Hot (around 25degrees C) and dry. There may be some cloud but it looks as though one of the riders’ key tasks will be to keep cool.
Gee and Rachel are both leading the world rankings. And both are in top form. They are both reigning British National Champions after victories at Moelfre last year, however Rhyd y Felin has not always been kind to it’s local champions – in 2008 Gee suffered a front wheel wash out close to the finish and Rachel was airlifted off the mountain with a suspected broken leg.
Current situation – team perspectives
Gee: ”There’s something very special about being National Champion – it’s not an honour that either of us are going to give up without a fight. But it’s also going to be fun racing in the ‘Nog again!”
Rachel: ”Rhyd Felin is our home track, Llangynog will always be close to our hearts, wherever else we race so I’m really looking forward to it – but what I’ve seen of that new track looks gnarly – too many trees!”