Gee Atherton won the thrilling and dramatic World Cup #4 at Champery. The anticipated rain held off making the track sticky with deep ruts.
Greg Minnaar who yesterday qualified 15th set a blistering time in the conditions of 4:04.98 which put him comfortably in the hot seat. Fairclough came close with a 4:06.75 for 3rd. Atherton, who switched to flat pedals for his final run, blasted down the hill, nearly two seconds up on Minnaar at the first split and pushing that to 3.65 at the second split. He lost time on the lower section but stopped the clock at 4:02.19, 02.75 faster than Minnaar and took over the lead.
Damien Spagnolo proved that his 2nd place qualifier yesterday was not the luck of the weather and steered the Mondraker down just 5 seconds off the pace for a 5th place proving he has the skills when the going gets muddy.
All eyes were on last man down and fastest qualifier Sam Blenkinsop who had been looking rapid in practise, but it was clear at the first split that Blenky was slightly off the pace today and clocked a 4:07.00 for 4th step on the podium.
As ever, I reckon the people who really got a good overall picture of what went on probably were the folk at home watching the live feed. At the finish line it was all a bit hectic, feel free to add your observations in the comments, here’s a few other points I noticed:
Random finish arena invasion by a cow and bare chested men with bras drawn on after Blenky crosses the line.
Fabien Pedemanaud was on for a banger of a run, 3rd at the first split, then crashed but still finished just 10 seconds off the pace in 7th.
9 Brits in the top 25
Steve Peat 18th said on FaceBook “Rubbish final result for me, 18th. Not happy had an off at the top and never got back on top of things”
Brook MacDonald has the best ride ever for 6th position.
Aaron Gwin 8th, still some confusion over his DQ in qualifying yesterday.
CRC Intense remain top team with Kovarik getting a much needed top ten with 9th, Roy Cat Cunningham 10th and Lehikoinen 13th.
Mickael Pascal with the highest, narrowest bars in 11th.
Joe Smith looked like he was on a stormer, 8th at the first split, but crashed before the second split.
Dirt Norco rider Ben Reid crashed in the top section and injured his wrist, he carried on barely being able to hold on to the bars resulting in a spectacular 360 crash on the left hand wall ride corner. Reidy has his wrist bandaged up and hopefully just needs to rest it.
Dan “Stanny” Stanbridge was following doctors orders not to crash on his recently healed shoulder so took her steady for 50th.
There was a great atmosphere at the bottom of the course, loads of Brits made the trip out to watch the race and nearly all of them brought signs, one even brought his bagpipes.
I think we know where Dai Robot is…he’s been massacred to make all these signs
(More news when the internet starts working!)