This Weekend the team are in Vallnord in Andorra for Round 3 of the World Cup. The level of expectation is high after Gee and Rachel’s double wins at Fort William and Val di Sole and is compounded by the fact that Rach will be chasing 18 World Cup wins – a total that would see her overtake Steve Peat as the British Mountain-biker with most World Cup wins ever.
They will be doing all that they can to ignore the hype and focus on the job in hand and doing what they love.
Riders: Gee Atherton, Rachel Atherton, Marc Beaumont
Mechanics: Pete Michaliszyn, Mark Maurissen, Andy Lund
Support : Dan Brown, Tom Lloyd
Bikes: The new GT Fury…
Rachel summarises the track as “Pretty gnarly!” She says “It’s really steep, especially towards the bottom of the track, quite soft and wet enough to cut in quite a lot.”
Post qualification the riders all report that it’s huge fun, hard to learn and pretty brutal! The track is so long that its sheer length becomes challenging, Quali winner Sam Hill did it in 4.20.66
1 Sam Hill
2 Greg Minaar
3 Gee Atherton
25 Marc Beaumont
1 Manon Carpenter
2 Rachel Atherton
3 Emmeline Ragot
Friday’s Qualis were hot and dry – with highs of 28 degrees, Saturday and Sunday are forecast to be a little cooler – some cloud will be a welcome sight with predicted highs of 22 and 24.
The team are missing Taylor Vernon but they are in the form of their lives. Gee and Rachel both won here in 2008 and Gee was second by 0.2 seconds to Steve Peat in 2009 – Peat’s last World Cup win. There’ll be a battle here for sure – last weekend saw Gee keep his British National title despite Peat qualifying faster – AND leading at the split so there’s going to be some very hot competition. Marc Beaumont’s arm will need a final OK from the team physio but is looking good to go – Marc hasn’t had such good races here before, he was 22nd in 2009 and DNF in 2008.
Gee: “Track walk and Qualis great. We’re not thinking about anything but the race coming up – doesn’t matter what you have or havent done before, we’re just going to enjoy it.”
Rachel: “I didn’t even realise about the 18 titles till Dirt told me, like Gee says it’s about this race, nothing else. Besides I’ve got a long way to go to catch up Anne-Caro !”
Marc: “Yeah, not the best record here but the past is past, good or bad. Let’s see what we can do this year.”