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Chasing 18 - Rachel Atherton set to break British records in Andorra

Chasing 18 - Rachel Atherton set to break British records in Andorra

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Rachel Atherton heads to World Cup Round 3 in search of creating British history.

The chairlift had stopped and the crowds dispersed at Val Di Sole. Sat on tarmac, hot, stained with fork oil, chain lube, and beer, flanked by the massive GT and Rockshox juggernauts, Rachel Atherton slugs her seventeenth winning bottle of bubbly. Seemed to be going down well – and so it should, she’d just equalled Peaty’s record of seventeen World Cup wins on the deafening Italian track.

She didn’t make a song and dance about it, I’m not sure she even knows to this day the significance of the numbers herself as she pulls out of Llangynog en route to her Andorran destiny. It has been a rollercoaster journey laced with tears, mud and sheep shit.

In Val Di Sole last month Rach equalled Peaty's 17 win record
In Val Di Sole last month Rach equalled Peaty’s 17 win record

Rachel raced her first World Cup in 2004, which was the same year that Gee won his first in Schladming on an Intense. She spent her first three years of her racing career largely in Wales and without ever losing. All that changed in that important Atherton year of 04 when she began spinning on the world’s latitudes never far from Mountain Ash and Moelfre but now stitched in with some Mont St Anne and Calgary grid points.

She won Livigno Worlds in 05 as a junior and followed up in 2006 with her first senior World Cup win – in Brazil – and that put her on equal terms to Gee who won another in 08 before leaving it a while to regain shape in 2010.

Let’s not rush too quickly past Andorra where in 08 Gee and Rach did the double. And at the Val Di Sole Worlds where they did another double at which point Rach was now outgunning her older brother on the world circuit, before in 09 … she dramatically got shot down by injury. The year that Sabrina Jonnier nailed 6 out of the 8 races.

She got her shit together in 2010 but it was a largely drizzly season, although by now they’d got well settled in Llangynog what with the quarry, the backyard and the Farmer’s Arms.

Rach just after coming down the hill after victory number 16...
Rach just after coming down the hill after victory number 16…

Welsh race appearances were now becoming thinner: one of the local shepherds got her to stick a few times in down his hill – this seems to be an annual pilgrimage – but that was about it.

Last year Rach won five out of seven, a feats of such proportions that have been a rarity since, the mighty ACC – Anne Caroline Chausson, who has 41 world cup wins to her name, and pretty much dominated the circuit from 1996 to 2002, with only the odd race that she didn’t win! There are more than a few similarities between the two, but most importantly within the compressed environment of a race run the GT racer seems to have more time on her hands, more composure, more flow.

Andorra is a special place for many reasons. This weekend is MASSIVE. Not only do Peaty and Rachel go in holding the greatest World Cup success rates for British racers but it’s also where the Sheffield man won his last. Two hundredths separated him from Gee on that day in 09, the year when the mighty Gwin gained his first podium.

Rach on the podium at Fort Bill, earlier this year.
Rach on the podium at Fort Bill, earlier this year.

This season Gee and Rachel have gone nuts together. Peaty won qualifying last weekend in north Wales, that most hallowed of Atherton soil. We all wish them good luck to keep the battle going.

Rach is well on her way to smashing the British record set by Peaty back in 09, but will she ever be able to catch the legend that is Anne-Caroline Chausson?

Steven Jones.

  1. Nick Hamilton

    Brilliant Piece….


  2. David Jaquin

    Top work Jones, its going to be a huge weekend whatever happens.

    Heres to the battle.

  3. dirt dodger

    match point Rach – go on girl!

  4. Ken Kenny

    What appalling writing. Truly dreadful.

    1. phillemaistre

      Bad editing, yes. A unique writing style that we’re not used to seeing in our tiny world of MBUK and Mountain Bike Action, yes. Creative, stream-of-consciousness editorial prose, yes. But not bad writing. Just different. Keep it up Jonsey.

      1. Ken

        Nope, just bad writing. I don’t read MBUK or MBA so am not comparing it to those, but I do read many a different source and it’s just horrible. I like personality in writing to the extent it can be called a ‘style’, but it’s just dire in the sense that it is actually difficult to read or follow.

    2. Darren

      Not being funny Ken but rather than criticise others (which is real easy to do from behind your keyboard) why don’t you show us all how great your writing skills are.

    3. SCOTT

      It is great to read writing with a sense of personality and style. Sure it maybe no Shakespear but it is a shining light in an internet full of boring press release style writings and company supplied drivel. Keep it up Jonesy!!

  5. CC

    Dan won 4X in Andorra in 2008. Atherton triple.

  6. Darren

    Great piece jonesy, keep it up mate

  7. Jbrads26

    Ken Kenny – I really do hope you are joking. Why don’t you go over to Pinkbike and post your keyboard warrior opinions there :)

    Great article, something I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. Rach looks unstoppable this season.

  8. Satchel Paige

    Agree completely with Ken, Jonesy can’t write worth scat. Just loaded with stock phrases and cliche, not imaginative, not informative, just crap really.

    Great subject though, Ms Atherton hauls serious arse!

    Also Jonesy is much better when speaking to a video camera, his Fundamentals vid was great.

    To those who say Ken should show his writing — well duh, Jonesy and Rosey aren’t giving Ken a column are they?

  9. snooplebike

    I have to agree with Ken and Satchel. Jonesy writing is almost unreadable. I like him and what he stands for, and he has good stuff to say, but it’s impossible to follow his nonsensical, wandering and poorly structured content. All too often there is no verb in his sentences. It’s a shame because most of the time I don’t bother reading his articles in Dirt as it’s simply too much effort. Still, he’s not as bad as a certain RC in MBUK, who not only writes poorly but in the most ridiculously pretentious fashion as well – delusions of grandeur there! :-) Go Rach!


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