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Downhill

Greg Williamson and Rachel Atherton take 2017 National Champs

Bala played host to the battle for white

Images & Words by Dan Griffiths

Last year, we saw Inverness’ G-Willy take the National Champs jersey just a few hundred yards down the road at Revolution Bike Park. Would we see another run worthy enough of a second consecutive win this tim out in Bala? well, just .23 would decide that.

Bala would see a swollen field of riders, with the likes of the current World Champ Danny Hart, team-mate Laurie Greenland, and last year’s winner Greg Williamson,¬†among a decent handful of top riders all competing for the National Champs jersey across the categories.

Is the rain going to come? The big World Cup teams were out in force with their pits and plenty of options for the predicted weather.

At the BDS earlier in the year, Bala was like a motor speedway – flat out, dusty and loose. No such luck for riders this time around. With weather concerns piping up all week, nothing would come of the heavy rainfall warnings but regardless, parts of this 3-minute course would remain comparable to a bog – all, of course, making for some very exciting racing.

National Champs 2017 is on.
Time to see what race day has to offer.
Another year in mid-Wales for the UK champs
The course sets off down a deceptively fast fire-road before cutting into the woods. Hops and hucks will win you time on the wide open sections
From there, it would be a whole different story...
The bog in the middle of the track really was the deciding factor. A bit like Fort William, if you got through this clean you were probably on for a good time. Kade Edwards and Kaos Seagrave were two early victims
Charlie Hatton scouting the lines that would take him to a podium finish. He won here in the BDS earlier in the year but couldn't match that at the Nationals.
The lower half; roots and stumps, as far as the eye can see.
A pretty gnarly OTB in seeding meant Danny would come down, and into the hot-seat pretty early in the elite men's category. The current World Champ could put his feet up as it was a while before he was beaten.
Seagrave slappin'
A pleasure to shoot, and also bloody quick - The Cornish Fasty, would later put down a run worthy of a 9th place finish come finals.
PEATY!! Fresh out of retirement, the ledge was looking seriously fast all weekend and it would show. He was the 8th fastest man on the hill in finals.
Trek's Kade Edwards' freeride career marches on. He sailed into a 3rd place finish, an exceptional result considering he did so with no arms.
Matt Walker retained his National Champs sleeve for the junior men. He went ahead of Joe Breeden by just over two seconds.
Manon Carpenter navigating the stump-field on her way to a 3rd place finish in elite women.
Meanwhile, when she wasn’t fast asleep in the pits, Seagrave was putting down a 2nd place run, 5 seconds back on Atherton.

 

It would be the first time Rach has seen the top step since Lourdes.
Greenland looking rad during finals; we know this guy can bring it to the table for Championship races, unfortunately, this time around it wasn't quite there for Laurie, who finished 12th.
It was there, however, for Brayton who finished with a very reasonable 5th place.
Talk about tight racing, Greg Williamson would come down just 0.45 seconds faster than the Redcar Rocket, now sitting in the hot-seat with just two riders to go.
Third placed seed, Slugger, didn't quite have what it took to knock G' Willy off, and it just left Charlie Hatton.
Up at the first split, and 7th at the second, it would be hard to judge where Hatton would come in the finish area. Again, incredibly tight, he came down just 0.23 seconds behind Greg, leaving the Scot to take his second consecutive National Champs win.
Good work, Greg.
Your National Champions 2017

Full results here.

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