The Golden Year - Rachel Atherton's record breaking ten consecutive World Cups
...and there's no sign of it stopping yet
Relentless, driven … unstoppable? Rachel Atherton has just won her tenth World Cup in a row, the most consecutive wins by any racer, beating the great Anne Caroline Chausson’s previous record of nine (although she did do it twice - in the 1998-99 seasons then 2000-01).
Rachel has been consistently the fastest racer of the past decade and that’s what the record books will show. She’s now up to 30 wins and Chausson’s record of 41 must be rapidly approaching her horizon. Here’s how she beat Anne Caro’s long-standing streak.
The 2014 season was a tough one for Rachel, she bagged an early win in Cairns but a viral infection sidelined her for a lot of the season. It was Manon Carpenter who took advantage and won the overall. Rachel wasn’t far off it though and, had she not been disqualified for taking assistance from a marshal at Fort William, she could well have won it despite her problems. She showed how close to she was to her best as she lost the World Championships in Hafjell by only 0.088 seconds.
Lourdes opened the 2015 season and it was Emmeline Ragot that bagged a win on her home track. She put two seconds into Atherton but it was the last time anyone would finish above Rachel in any competition for over a year (we're not counting Foxhunt - sorry Bex!).
The Winning Run
1.Fort William - June 7 2015
Rachel’s first win on the record breaking streak fittingly began at Fort William, but 2015’s race was a total contrast to 2016, with rain and winds battering riders.
Emmeline Ragot went over the bars on a drop in the woods and Manon Carpenter was the only girl to go off the Visit Scotland sender but suffered a huge yard sale as a result. This left Rach to cruise to victory by nearly eight seconds over Tahnee Seagrave.
Margin of victory – 7.989 seconds
2. Leogang – June 14 2015
One week later the World Cup headed to Leogang and although the weekend will largely be remembered for Gwin’s chainless miracle, Rachel picked up a big win in the women’s race. Manon was controversially disqualified for cutting the tape on the final jump and Rachel went three seconds quicker than the rest of the field.
Margin of victory – 3.018 seconds
3. Lenzerheide – July 5 2015
Records like this don't come about without a bit of luck though. Emmeline Ragot qualified first but a crash in sector two cost her ten seconds - she finished just nine seconds back.
Margin of victory – 5.006 seconds
4. Mont Sainte Anne – August 1 2015
Mont Sainte Anne marked the last race of Emmeiline Ragot’s career. A huge crash broke the Frenchwoman and she would later announce her retirement from World Cup racing. Ragot was the last woman who had shown any capability to beat Atherton in a straight fight and this paved the way for Rachel to claim win number four.
Margin of victory – 3.417 seconds
5. Windham - August 8 2015
Rachel stamped her authority in Windham. There’s not much to say other than it was simply a massacre. She ended up nine seconds clear on a three-minute track.
Margin of victory – 9.360 seconds
6. Val di Sole – August 23 2015
Rachel already had the series sewn up at Val di Sole but she wasn't going to let that slow her down. Having said that, it was the closest she's come to losing in the past year, as Myriam Nicole went (only?) 2.239 seconds slower.
Margin of victory – 2.239 seconds
7. Lourdes – April 10 2016
And so we rolled into the 2016 season. Rachel had moved from GT to Trek but it did little to change the final outcome, she claimed her first win of the year and put 4.472 seconds into Tahnee Seagrave.
Margin of victory – 4.472 seconds
8. Cairns 2016
Cairns simply showed that Rachel could perform in all conditions all over the world. She was unfazed by the trials of the jungle and beat local favourite Tracey Hannah on her home track.
Margin of victory – 7.098 seconds
9. Fort William
In Fort William, Rachel matched Anne Caroline’s long standing record with a 12 second victory over her competition. This was the biggest margin of victory she’d had in the winning streak and only showed how far ahead she still was of the rest of the field.
Margin of victory – 12.049 seconds
With the record on the line Rachel took to the start line in Loegang a nervous wreck having thrown up in the pits just a few moments before. She overcame difficult conditions and a track that was packed with potential pitfalls to take the win by more than five seconds. Ten in a row for Atherton - a phenomenal run with no sign of it ending soon.