Race Preview and Qualifying: World Cup Round 5 Hafjell, Norway

Gee and Rachel take a double win in Qualifying.

Gee and Rachel Atherton took another double win at the Hafjell qualifiers today while Marc put in a steady run to qualify 22nd. The team were cheered on by recovering teammate Taylor Vernon.

Rachel was repping the 2013 World Champs stripes for the first time as she took the qualifying win 0.9 seconds from Emmeline Ragot.

Gee set a scorching benchmark time of 3.30.05 but was soon under pressure as Mick Hannah tore down the hill 0.5 seconds up at split 1, 0.3 seconds up at split 2 but 0.1seconds behind Gee by the finish line generating some tension filled minutes for the GT Factory Racing team.

Riders: Gee Atherton, Rachel Atherton, Marc Beaumont.
Mechanics: Pete Michaliszyn, Mark Maurissen, Andy Lund
Support : Dan Brown, Taylor Vernon, Tom Lloyd

Bikes: The new GT Fury

at the 2013 UCI MTB World Championships, Pitermaritzburg, South Africa

Race guide: This will be the second time that Hafjell features in a World Cup. Last year the GT Factory Racing riders were really excited by the track which is diverse and testing with fast, flowy jumps, technical rock and root sections and a couple of short , very physical pedal sections. Team Director Dan Brown commented on this year’s conditions “It’s the same course as last year, the one that Rach called Ridiculously rad.  It’s dusty up there, but more worn in now, times will be faster for sure assuming the rain stays away till Sunday.”

Weather Forecast: Mild with misty mornings, cloud and clear spells.  Some forecasters predict showers for Saturday others believe that they’ll hold off till Sunday…

History:

The team come into this event in great spirits, they are loving Norway, are excited about riding such a great course and are happy to have team-mate Taylor Vernon along for the trip – especially with the 17th birthday celebrations yesterday! Gee and Rachel are leading the series overall. Gee rode well here last year but was edged out in some extraordinarily exciting racing by George Brannigan, Greg Minaar and Stevie Smith – a situation he’ll be looking to redress.  Rachel won here last year – 2.2 seconds ahead of Emmeline Ragot with Morganne Charre in 3rd. Marc found last year’s racing at Hafjell immensely frustrating as he struggled to get to grips with the rock section, finishing 22nd in practice and 29th in the Finals.

In today’s qualifiers Marc rode steadily to equal last year’s 22nd place but will be looking to move up the ranks come Sunday.

at the 2013 UCI MTB World Championships, Pitermaritzburg, South Africa

Current Perspectives

Gee: The course is great – it’s a bit like home in fact. Some pretty close racing today though – I thought Mick had me at the first split, and then he was still up at the second…Sunday’s going to be intense.

Rachel: Speaking before today’s qualifiers Rachel said “Norway is an amazing place, forest, hills, lake, fjords, trees, trolls and super cool locals! My experience last year was great, loved the track which has everything on it, won the race and sealed the overall WC title, I hope this year will help my overall bid too.”

After securing today’s win she said “That race was gnarly – Emmeline is pushing me so hard this season, at split 1 she was 0.8 up but I managed to pull it back on the lower sections.”

Marc: “ I can honestly say that Hafjell 2012 goes down as one of the most disappointing in my career. But we’re in beautiful surroundings, the track has it all, technical rocky woods high speed sections & massive jumps what more could you want!!! I’m feeling positive  – last month I had my best result of the 2013 series at Mont Sainte Anne which I’d hated in 2012 so it just goes to show how things can change!”

Qualifying Results

Women’s Elite

1 Rachel Atherton            GB        3.57.56

2 Emmeline Ragot           Fr          3.58.49                  +0.92

3 Myriam Nicole        Fr          4.05.714               +8.14

 

Men’s Elite

1 Gee Atherton                  GB          3.30.051

2 Mick Hannah                 Aus           3.30.161               +0.11

3 Loic Bruni                       Fr            3.31.88                  +1.83

22 Marc Beaumont          GB             3.39.007               +8.95

 

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