The notoriously tricky Mont St Anne track unseated both Gee and Rachel Atherton this weekend – Gee took a heavy tumble in qualifying while Rach qualified first but then came off twice on her Finals run.
For the Women’s race conditions were fine – With 5 riders to go Myriam Nicole was in the hotseat , Siegenthaler took it from her, but lost it immediately to Manon Carpenter who blasted down the hill 13 seconds faster than Rachel’s winning qualifying run from Firday. Floriane Pugin couldn’t match Manon but Emmeline Ragot tore into Carpenter’s time going an amazing 5 seconds clear – could Rachel continue her amazing unbroken run of victories? Sadly it was not to be – she took her first tumble in the woods of the top section coming past split 1 10 seconds down, then to make things worse she had her second over the bars in the rock section, dropping a total of 35 seconds overall and slipping into 12th place.
As ballsy as ever she delighted the crowd by taking on the big finish line jump.
Rachel said “Everyone has been sending me such messages of support – that means a lot – well done to Emmeline and Manon for storming runs, I wish I could have stayed upright to try and take them on but today was not to be”.
In a dramatic men’s race conditions were good as Marc Beaumont narrowly missed the early time set by Andrew Neethling with a great run which would place him 10th at the close of play. Due to a crash in his qualifier Gee was off earlier than his main competitors, his run was smooth until the last sector where he lost over a second running offline, he still managed to put in the day’s first sub 4 minute run 3.59.389 to take the hotseat from Neethling.
But soon after Gee’s run the rain started – gently at first but by the time the top 10 were on the hill there was serious rainfall making conditions on course very slippy indeed. Sam Hill put in a brilliant run regardless, 1.2 seconds short of Gee, Greg Minaar followed him – a few hundredths faster, Aaron Gwin missed Gee’s time by over a second as did Sam Blenkinsop and Danny Hart after him but local hero Steve Smith absolutely blazed down the mountain to put 0.9 seconds into Gee and take the win in front of a ecstatic home crowd.
Gee said “That rain came from nowhere and was no good for anybody. Fair play to Stevie Smith that was an epic run, my run lacked something today and my moment on the lower section cost me the win but I’m happy to come away still in the jersey”
Gee and Rachel both maintain their leads in the overall standings with Marc sitting in 21st while GT Factory Racing retain the team lead.
All photos: Sven Martin
1. Emmeline Ragot 4.24.985
2. Manon Carpenter +4.211
3. Floriane Pugin +7.094
4. Emilie Siegenthaler +11.920
5. Myriam Nicole +12.249
12. Rachel Atherton +34.636
1. Stevie Smith 3.58.485
2. Gee Atherton +0.904
3. Sam Hill +2.118
4. Greg Minaar +2.167
5. Aaron Gwin +3.123