At a particularly wet and treacherous edition of the classic Fort William World Cup downhill, Whistler’s Finn Iles cut through the mud to finish fourth.
France’s Amaury Pierron repeated his 2018 win at For Bill, signaling that the reigning World Cup overall winner is not ready to cede his throne just yet. On the women’s side, Rachel Atherton delivered the first World Cup win for the family brands new venture, Atherton Bikes.
Pierron reigns, Iles on the move
In 2018, Amaury Pierron (Commencal Vallnord) started his string of World Cup wins, enough to earn him that season’s overall title, in Fort William. 2019 appears to be starting in much the same manner. After qualifying second behind Loris Vergier (Santa Cruz Syndicate), Pierron put together a winning run in Sunday’s finals.
Troy Brosnan (Canyon Factory Racing) took the second step on Sunday, barely edging out Vergier. After four minutes 32 seconds of racing, Vergier trailed Brosnan by a razor thin 0.049 seconds.
Finn Iles (Specialized Gravity Racing) was next fastest in fourth, marking his best World Cup finish so far in 2019. The young Canadian recovered from a massive crash in Saturday’s qualifying to lay down a blistering fast race run on Sunday in finals. Danny Hart (Madison Saracen) continued his quest for Fort William World Cup glory, taking the fifth and final spot on the podium.
With his podium finish, Iles moves into seventh overall in the World Cup standings. Mark Wallace (Canyon Factory Racing), 25th in Fort William, sits eighth overall, just four points behind his fellow Canadian.
Kirk McDowall (Unior Devinci Factory Racing) also had an excellent weekend racing in marginal conditions. The multiple time Canadian downhill national champion was 39th in Sunday’s final.
Henry Fitzgerals (Norco Facotry Team) was 53rd, marking an excellent weekend for Canadian downhill on the international stage.
Atherton Bikes claims first World Cup win
Rachel Atherton landed the newly-formed Atherton Bikes team, and brand, a first World Cup win. With the race on home soil in Fort William, the win for U.K. brand launched by Gee, Rachel and Dan Atherton earlier this year was especially sweet.
The win was much closer than some of Rachel Atherton’s dominant past performances, though. The reigning downhill world champion edged out Tracey Hannah (Polygon UR Racing) by just 1.611 seconds, after 5:15 on course.
With Tahnée Seagrave (Transition Muc-Off Racing) absent due to injuries sustained in a crash on course Friday, Atherton assumes the overall World Cup lead, and Hannah second.
Germany’s Nina Hoffmann scored her best-ever World Cup finish, placing third behind the two downhill veterans. Marine Cabirou (Scott Downhill Facotry Team) and Italy’s Veronica Widmann (INSYNC) filled out the podium in fourth and fifth, respectively, adding more proof of the rapidly expanding depth of women’s downhill racing at the World Cup level.