There was a nice symmetry to the downhill finals at the Cairns World Cup today; Gee and Rachel Atherton absolutely demolished the competition (Gee by four seconds, Rachel by over 11), with Aussies squeezing onto podium in fifth place in both men’s and women’s. You can view the
full results here.
While we didn’t get the dream outcome of Hannah hometown hero, the extremely vocal crowds that lined the course got a big serve of the drama of World Cup racing today. Our full gallery is below; soak it in, and read the captions to get all the detail of what went down under (…finally) sunny skies in Cairns.
Rachel Atherton is on another level. Count to eleven. It takes a long time. Here she sticks the high line without a dab, while the other women were battling for grip. Myriam Nicole. Rad as always, in third. Tracey Hannah finds a rut in the gloopy lower portion of course. Keeping the wheels rolling here was everything, as getting back up to speed was next to impossible. Today was not the first time the Athertons have done the double. Rachel threw down the challenge to Gee, and he stepped up resoundingly. While the top two thirds of the course dried out quickly today (excluding the infamous Alien Tree), the flatter, lower parts turned into a soup. It was brutal to watch riders panting their way through it all. We even saw Danni Beecroft running her bike at one stage! Danni Beecroft valiantly drops in to the chute above Ronning’s Ramp – it was like riding on ice. Chris Kovarik. Always looking hungry. How deep is your rut? These bike swallowing holes had derailleurs, pedals and feet gouges out from them. Brook The Bulldog McDonald. No feet, but no brakes either. He rode the next corner with his feet off, but he didn’t slow down one bit. There was plenty of this action going on today. Jack Moir kept the hot seat warm for a long while today. Bogan-zela. Steve Peat got lucky today. His run started out badly, but a spectator accident down the course saw the red cards come out and Peaty got a re-run and a seventh place. Mrs Hannah. Finish line nerves for her boy, up on course. Mick Hannah sails in towards the whoops. By this stage his hopes of a win were dashed, after crashing out at the Alien Tree.
Sam Hill sent the crowd mental when he grabbed the hot seat. Unfortunately it didn’t last and he was bumped down to fifth place ultimately. Crowd. Mental. Goes. Brendan Fairclough does some of his best riding in the air. Casual as you like over the big triple. Connor Fearon set a blistering top ten qualifying time, and was the second last Aussie down the hill. He finished up in 38th, but won a lot of respect. Ed Masters. What a freaking legend. After qualifying in fourth, we were left wondering if we might witness a huge upset. We didn’t, but the man’s a hero all the same. Ed The Viking Masters. Lightning goes faster. Josh Bryceland rode out of his skin today for second place. Usually a showman, the crowd at the triple jump was pumped for a big whip, but when Rat Boy came through he was in full business mode. Fast, low and long. Greg Minnaar didn’t have a good day out. Crashing through the course tape, he was disqualified for entering the course at a different point from which he left it. Always grinning, even when he’s being bumped off the podium – Steve Peat. This is the incident that caused the red flags. After Adam Brayton ended up in an ambulance, a member of the crowd (helmetless) jumped on his bike and promptly completely smashed themselves in the whoops. It was a horrible incident – apparently the person involved is now in hospital with spinal injuries. Think twice, people. Think twice. Marcelo Gutierrez, the King of Columbia, is the urban DH guru. He put his skills riding stairs and dodging dogs to good use in the jungle today and held the hot seat for a long time. The last Aussie down the hill, Troy Brosnan rode the ragged edge. Ninth place, ten seconds back. With the mud taking the consistency of peanut butter, it was an intensely physical track. Brosnan puts his lungs back in. 17th place for Loic Bruni today. This mad Frenchman loves to roll the dice. Pringle for Trek’s Williamson. Neko The Man Child Mulally was the fastest through the rocks and came oh-so close today. Even with a crash, he was good for third place. A win is very close by for this young American. Last man down. Kiwi Sam Blenkinsop knew he could do it today. The fastest qualifier just couldn’t string it together though, and ended up one step off the podium in sixth. Brit Sam Dale slots it through the rocks. Aaron Gwin gets on the gas and powers to fourth. Riding in a set of borrowed shoes (seriously – he borrowed them from a trackside local after swapping to flats!), Gee Atherton exudes confidence right now. He’ll be hard to beat on his home turf at Fort William next round. Gee’d up Gee. A four second margin on a four minute track is a huge win, and he knows it.