Today at World Cup Round 3 in Vallnord, Andorra Rachel Atherton defied enormous pressure to take the win from Manon Carpenter.
With this victory on a brutal new track Rachel bettered Steve Peat’s record of 17 World Cup wins to become the British Mountain –biker with most World Cup wins to her name in the history of the sport.
The pressure on Rachel was intense, she came to Vallnord with 5 consecutive double wins with Gee under her belt, as well as media speculation as to whether she’d break the World Cup winners’ record this weekend. It’s also worth noting that she came to race day 3.6 seconds behind Manon Carpenter on her qualifying run having made some fairly “committed” changes to her bike’s suspension. It seems that the changes paid off, Rachel came into the hotseat 11 seconds clear of Myriam Nicole with only Manon left on the hill. Carpenter put in a scorching run but came in 1.6 seconds short to take the second.
Rachel said “That was immense, a wild, brutal track, great crowd. Thanks as ever to Manon for pushing me so damn hard! I’m so proud to take this win today and want to thank everyone who has helped me – the whole Athy Racing team, especially Team Director Dan Brown, my mum and dad, Gee and Affy, Ben and everyone else out there who kept believing.”
Gee’s race run was delayed by Cam Cole’s massive crash – early reports are that Cam’s going to be OK, just off to hospital as a precaution after landing on his head. As racing resumed Steve Peat – deposed by Rachel just one hour ago as highest British World Cup winner ever – came down 2.8 seconds short of Stevie Smith, the podium changed with great runs from Gutierrez and Hart but held for Fairclough, Blenkinsop, Bryceland and Suding. Thirion threw down his incredible 4.13, Bruni came down in 5th than Gee put in a great run to go into second, Minaar missed podium and Sam Hill roared into third.
Gee said “ I’m actually pretty stoked with today, so happy for Remi and our old friends at Commencal, the crowd here today were great – really supportive but I couldn’t get on with the bottom section of the track at all!”
Gee’s second place is enough to maintain his overall lead ranking. Team mate Slugger Beaumont put in a solid run to take 15th despite riding with a separated shoulder, his result secured the team award for the weekend and maintained the team lead in the overall competition as it hits the halfway point.
Men’s Elite Results
1st Remi Thirion Commencal /Riding Addiction 4.13.666
2nd Gee Atherton GT Factory Racing 4.15.016 +1.35
3rd Sam Hill Chain Reaction Cycles/Nukeproof 4.15.42 +1.75
Women’s Elite Results
1st Rachel Atherton GT Factory Racing 4.47.77
2nd Manon Carpenter Madison Saracen 4.49.39 +1.6
3rd Myriam Nicole Commencal/Riding Addiction 4.59.22 +11.45
Next week the team head to Mont St Anne to race World Cup Round 4 – stay with us!
All photos: Sven Martin