SDA Round 5 and Scottish Champs – Fort William

An awesome end to the SDA season

Video, Photo and words: Descent World

Sometimes from adversity comes strength and if ever there was an example it was this. Billed as a double header due to the unfortunate situation of round 4, the SDA at Fort William was both the season finale and Scottish Championships. While the superstars of the sport fought tooth and nail for hundredths of a second on a Australian hillside, the Scottish scene went full gas down a big old mountain.

It could not have been better.

Saturday was a glorious day; a party vibe in the pits where smiles and coffee drinking were order of the day as riders settled into a relaxed day.

That changed at 12.30 when it was announced heavy winds were forecast for Sunday and riders would doing be a race run that afternoon. Some riders got their head in the game while others simply continued to enjoy riding this beast of a track in some blazing conditions.

After one run, which at this point most thought would stand the weekend, the leaders were fairly content.

So much so that Kenta Gallagher, after a tough season on the world cup circuit went home to enjoy some “Inverness time” and didn’t come back for the Sunday. And why not? He’d had a brilliant days riding, had a comfortable lead and looked to be enjoying himself at every opportunity.

There were other stories after the first runs too – Ben Cathro, “Mr SDA” punctured, Katy Winton held the slimmest of leads over a flying Elena Melton and Youth rider Jamie Edmondson had the fourth fastest time of the runs.

With Katy Winton riding well, Louise Ferguson, Mikayla Parton (before crashing out), Fiona Beattie, Debs Primrose and others all in the hunt, this was a brilliant spectacle and ringing endorsement of female DH in Scotland. Watch out world.

With most Elite and Expert racers convinced that Sunday racing would be cancelled, there was a strong presence of racers in the town on Saturday night and it was great to see that the party atmosphere of DH is alive and kicking as the likes of Reece Wilson, Frazer Mccubbing, Max Rendall and co all hit the famous Crofters bar with Joe Barnes also seen enjoying the live music.

With some racers choosing to stay up and watch the worlds, by 6 am many were aware that the heavens had opened but the winds were staying away – which meant that racing was happening!

Sunday saw a change in the weather….

In the hotly contested Juvenile category it was Sick Skills rider James Wilson who took a tight win over William Brodie riding for Icycles and Inner Soul racing.

In the Youth category, Jamie Edmondson was unstoppable and will take on junior world cup racing next year. Kai Bremner was a bit behind, but has a year to catch up.

Tea Jensen absolutely smashed the Junior womens field

The juniors mens race was won by Conor Bate with Jack Mccallum taking the coveted jersey .

The old boys category – The masters – saw a different face on the top step with Welshman Andrew Hughes making the long trip to claim victory with a respectable 5.10. Alan Blyth took the jersey on his 26″ Giant Glory , Peter Sigut took third on his trail bike with Rab Cobain piloting his 2002 Giant DH team to fourth. The old boys are rad!

The Vets class was tightly fought as ever, with John Young setting a strong 5.05, and Ali Maclennan coming in just over 5 seconds behind John. As an aside Ali would have destroyed the grand vets class has there been one!

Senior women was taken by EWS flyer Katy Winton by just 0.445 from Elena Melton. Louise Ferguson took third.

Senior men is a complicated set up at the champs, and with this being double header one race was Elite, Senior and Expert all in, the other being split into respective Categories.

When it comes to the categories, Senior was won by a flying Brandon Gonsales in a 5.02, Expert by Kris Gemmell in a 5.01 and Elite by Ben Cathro.

As for the big one, the Jersey, Ben Cathro came back with a bang on his second run. Since stepping back from World Cup racing, Ben has flourished on Scottish scene and his riding is better then ever. With Kenta having gone home for the Sunday, Ben went hard to set a time 8 seconds quicker than George Gannicot on the Sunday.

That was a phenomenal run from a rider that has become a legend of the Scottish scene.

All in all, this was a fitting season send off on Britain’s best and most inclusive DH series. The SDA will be back next year and wish to thank all of our sponsors; Green Power, Start Cycles, Roost DH, Sick Skills, Descent-World, Scottish Cycling and all of the volunteers and riders that help make the series what it is.

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