In almost desert-like conditions the sharp end of the 2016 Fort William World Cup began.

Photos: Seb Schieck, Ben WInder

It is hard to believe that 12 months ago we were hiding away from torrential rain in the cafes of Fort William’s High Street. Back then the whole of Saturday was cancelled, but today, under sunny skies it was an altogether different story.

Fort William day 3 2016 World Cup-3
Fort William day 3 2016 World Cup-3

This was downhill racing as we have always imagined it in our dreams. Dust getting scuffed and scrubbed up all over the shop. It was as if southern California had decided to come to visit Scotland. But today was a serious occasion, the World Cup is still only in its early stages this year and a lot can, and will, change. Everything is still to play for and points are obviously all important. There were definitely some winners and losers out on the mountain.

Fort William day 3 2016 World Cup-1
Fort William day 3 2016 World Cup-1

For us there were two main stories that came out of qualifying: Danny Hart and Eddie Masters. Hart crashed early on in his run and ended up in 21st. That's no big deal, what is interesting is that his time yesterday, in the usually relaxed 'timed training run', was in fact 2.5 seconds quicker than Gee Atherton's winning time in qualifying today. That is a real talking point. Maybe it was windier today... maybe not – the track was certainly no wetter or drier than yesterday. Danny Hart must be quietly confident after today.

And Eddie? What the hell was going on there? He didn't have an answer and even questioned if the UCI had got the timing right! We would so love to see Eddie hold it all together and secure a podium finish on race day. Zen.

World Cup #3 Fort William 2016
World Cup #3 Fort William 2016
Fort William day 3 2016 World Cup-6
Fort William day 3 2016 World Cup-6
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Fort William day 3 2016 World Cup-4
For the Brits this has to be the story of the day. Adam Brayton has always had the talent, but when it comes to race runs... well. But this time around he absolutely nailed it. Fifth place, three seconds back.
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WC_Fort_William_2016_14_1343
World Cup #3 Fort William 2016
World Cup #3 Fort William 2016
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WC_Fort_William_2016_82A9032
World Cup #3 Fort William 2016
World Cup #3 Fort William 2016
Fort William day 3 2016 World Cup-2
Fort William day 3 2016 World Cup-2
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WC_Fort_William_2016_14_4337
Flat tyre
Flat tyre
World Cup #3 Fort William 2016
World Cup #3 Fort William 2016
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DSC_1798
World Cup #3 Fort William 2016
World Cup #3 Fort William 2016
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Fort William day 3 2016 World Cup-8
Rachel Atherton
Rachel Atherton
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WC_Fort_William_2016_14_9679
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WC_Fort_William_2016_14_4945
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WC_Fort_William_2016_14_4835
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DSC_1767
World Cup #3 Fort William 2016
World Cup #3 Fort William 2016
Kaos Seagrave leading out current number one raked Matt Walker. Seagrave would not qualify after a puncture ruined his run, but Walker kept his head down with a solid third place.
World Cup #3 Fort William 2016
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WC_Fort_William_2016_14_3900