Just as Rachel Atherton looked to be gaining momentum, the reigning world champion of downhill is out with an injury.
While training for Les Gets World Cup in France on Thursday, Atherton landed heavy on a flat drop near the bottom of the course. The harsh landing resulted in an injury to the dominant British riders right Achilles tendon.
“Devastated to say that as I landed super heavy on the last flat jump I had a huge insanely painful ankle & felt so disgustingly strange” Atherton posted in a social media update, along with a picture of herself in a sizable cast.
View this post on Instagram
Devastated to say that as I landed super heavy on the last flat jump I had a huge INSANELY PAINFUL ankle & felt so Disgustingly STRANGE!! . Possible damage to my Achilles’ tendon… . . 🤮 Absolutely Devastated. Not sure what’s going to happen but I’ll be going home tomorrow to get sorted out, just so gutted & upset. Sorry to everyone & thanks to everyone. #womendown #gutted
Atherton is for sure not racing Les Gets this weekend, and is on her way back to the U.K. to get a full assessment. There’s no definite diagnosis yet, but the injury looks serious. It could put her appearance at UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne this August in question.
The injury comes just five days after Atherton won her second World Cup of the season. The world champion won the Vallnord World Cup, racing aboard the family’s new bike brand, Atherton Bikes. Her victory in Andorra adds to an earlier win at home in Fort William World Cup. It was also her 39th career World Cup win, and set a record across mountain bike disciplines for the most World Cup podium finishes.
“Absolutely Devastated,” Atherton posted about missing Les Gets. “Not sure what’s going to happen but I’ll be going home tomorrow to get sorted out, just so gutted & upset. Sorry to everyone & thanks to everyone.”
While 2019 will be the first time in 17 years that Les Gets is on the World Cup circuit, the venue recently hosted several years of Crankworx downhill racing. Atherton won the Crankworx downhill in Les Gets last year, and had been positive about the French track on social media.
The injury stops Atherton’s run at another World Cup overall title. She had been sitting second in the series, just 60 points behind Australia’s Tracey Hannay (Polygon UR).
Atherton isn’t the only high profile injury in women’s downhill this year. Tahnée Seagrave crashed out in practice at Fort William World Cup while leading the series. Seagrave injured her shoulder, and has yet to return to racing. On the men’s side, perennial podium threat Aaron Gwin’s (Intense Factory Racing) roller coaster of a season is on hold again. A crash in his Vallnord race run has forced the American to sit out Les Gets.