The best of the world’s downhill mountain bikers descended on an unusually sun-kissed Fort William last week, and it proved a great weekend for France, with five of their riders on the podium across the men’s and women’s events. However, all was not lost for UK riders on the characteristically gnarly course. Far from it…
Under rare Scottish sun
Despite an overnight deluge, a rare outing for the Scottish sun saw clear skies and largely dry grounds across the slopes of Aonach Mòr, a treat for the riders who were otherwise prepared to ride through showers and slick, dangerous mud.
In the men’s race it was the local boy, Reece Wilson, who set the fastest time early on, claiming a hot seat that he would keep warm until way into the event. Not even Loic Bruni, the current World Champion, could dislodge Wilson, finishing just 1.3 seconds slower than the Scotsman.
The eventual winner, Amaury Pierron, flew out of the starting gate at incredible speed, taking all the risks possible through the most technical of rock gardens. The run was smooth and stable, but the Frenchman still managed to pedal furiously at each and every opportunity, besting Wilson’s time by over a second.
Others attempted to dislodge the Frenchman, but a flat tyre for Luca Shaw – who had been up on Pierron’s time at the first split – prevented him from clambering up to Pierron’s lofty heights on the hot seat, and the Commencal rider eventually took his maiden World Cup win.
In the women’s race it was Britain’s Tahnée Seagrave who dominated the day, putting a clear 9 seconds between herself and Myriam Nicole in second place. The standout ride, however, was from Seagrave’s compatriot, Rachel Atherton of Trek Factory Racing, who faced a torrent of misfortunes as she navigated the Fort William course.
A broken chain off the start ramp and a crash in one of the more technical rock gardens soon saw the win slip away from Atherton. Despite the delays, Atherton still managed to place 3rd on the day, just 10 seconds behind Seagrave. Her misfortunes on course may well smart for Atherton now, but her ability to muscle her way onto the podium despite everything is a good sign for the rest of the season.
Hurtling downhill at breakneck speeds clearly requires some specialist kit and the athletes at Fort William sported some of the best downhill bikes that money can buy. Aboard the Trek Session, it was Atherton who tucked and pumped herself over the biggest of jumps on her way to third place on the day. Charlie Hatton and Gee Atherton, also representing the home nation, flew home in 14th and 15th in the men’s event riding the same machine.
The Session boasts a longer and more aggressive geometry than Trek’s other models in the downhill line, a geometry that allows you to attack the pedals and add even more speed to your downhill runs. The ability to fine-tune each and every ride with the Mino Link feature and an all-new adjustable headset system make this a sublime bike for the downhill discipline.
Loic Bruni, the current World Champion and podium finisher in the Fort William World Cup has been riding the S-Works Demo 8 throughout the first half of the 2018 season. Made from Specialized’s finest carbon fibre, FACT 11m, the Demo 8 boasts unparalleled stiffness and strength, allowing riders to rag the bike across testy rock gardens and around the tightest of bends with ease, making no compromise on speed. Complete with powerful SRAM Code RSC brakes, a one-by X01 DH drivetrain and Roval 650b wheels, the Demo 8 really is a sight to behold and a monster on the downhill runs.
Eager to throw yourself down some death-defying, mud-laden descents? Then check out the rest of our MTB and downhill range here.