With her twelfth win on the trot and a World Cup title in the bag you’d think it would have been a perfect weekend for Rachel Atherton but some wayward commentary forced her to speak out.
Rachel’s race run was a show of dominance from a sportsperson in their prime. She finished 11 seconds up on Tracey Hannah and went 73.657 kmh through the speed trap – this was 5 kmh faster than the next fastest woman and faster than all but six of the men (including Gee).
However, during her run Rob Warner asked Claudio Caluori: “What makes her so good, is there one thing?” To which Claudio replied: “Well, we always say she rides with her brother, who’s one of the leading men in the field, so that certainly helps.”
It was this comment that annoyed Atherton as she posted on Instagram and Facebook: “Why not say the truth?? Because I work DAMN hard!! I train damn hard with my coach , my mechanics and I work on my bike setup and suspension like there’s no tomorrow, I focus on every aspect of racing, I analyse & doubt myself, my experience with injuries has taught me my limits & my abilities, I live for racing, it makes my heart beat!! YES I do ride with my brothers a lot, but I also ride ALOT on my own , and it kind of takes the piss when all you say is “because she rides with her brother” I am, along with all the other women, athletes in our own right, bike riders because WE have the SKILLS, not because we blindly follow the boys with our eyes closed. So Sort it out please boys!!!” (sic).
Claudio’s comment may have been a bit misjudged given that Tracey Hannah also has a brother on the World Cup circuit and other female athletes such as Manon Carpenter and Emilie Siegenthler also train with their male team mates, yet Rachel is beating them week in week out.
Claudio has since posted his own apologetic response to the statement on Facebook. He said: “You are a great role model for women in sports and elsewhere. I totally support your efforts for equal rights for women.
“Maybe it was a bit careless but i still believe that family and older siblings, be it men or women, can have a positive influence on a persons development. But as you are now even faster then them, this explanation has proven out of date anyway.”
He also invited her to represent women on his next GoPro preview run. His full response is here: