We’ve had a huge response to the Fantasy Downhill League, this competition is going to be BIG. To help you with the decision making process, James and Shirley have knocked out another rider guide for you, and here it is.
Name: Atherton, Rachel
Team: Animal Commencal
2008 World Cup overall: 1
Career highlights: 2008 World Champion, 2008 World Cup Champion
It is fair to say that in 2008, Rachel Atherton dominated the women’s downhill circuit, winning the World Cup overall and World Championship gold. On her way to the World Cup overall she took four World Cup wins, and only missed out on a top two finish at one race, in Fort William. She more than made up for missing most of the 2007 World Cup season through injury.
This only tells half the story, as it was not just the first place finishes that set Rachel apart from the rest, but the way in which she won them. At the World Champs in Val di Sole, she finished a massive 11.99 seconds up on multiple World Champion, Sabrina Jonnier. In the off season, she was reported to have been doing a load of training on her motocross bike, in order to improve her strength and endurance on the bigger tracks. It would appear to have paid off.
The Animal Commencal team is one of the most professional outfits on the circuit, and with support from energy drink giants Red Bull, among others, she will have received the best pre-season build-up possible. Or at least that would have been the case if she hadn’t had an unfortunate training accident with a truck. According to those present, she was lucky to escape with just a dislocated shoulder. Latest reports have suggested that she may not be fully fit in time for the first race of the season, but information remains vague.
Even if she does miss the first round of the World Cups this year, it would be wrong to count Rachel out of the running for the overall title. When she came back from injury at the last race of the 2007 season, she took the win, demonstrating more than just a fighting spirit. The first British woman to win gold at the downhill World Champs, she stands every chance of repeating her epic performance of 2008, in Canberra this year.