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Fort William Day 1

Here we are then, year 15 at the Bill. It still rains, there’s a new bit that looks like the old bits and there’s still nothing that dissuades the midges.

Photos: Seb Schieck

Winds were high all day, even more so up on the Mor

We shouldn’t be negative though, while some may come to Fort William and see the same old, same old, it always has the potential to surprise. There’s something special about this barren hillside – a unique mix of history, location and physicality that can unsettle even the most resolute racers. For the past two years, Greg Minnaar has stamped his authority on the course. He’s won nearly half the World Cups that have been held here, a truly astonishing record that could very easily be improved upon this weekend.

The unknown factor this weekend will be the chasing pack that are either already on the 29 inch wheels or secretly wishing they were. Revealed today was Loic Bruni’s, although he’s adamant he won’t actually be throwing a leg over it until he’s done more testing, for now it’s just a statement and a warning to decorate the front of the pits.

A not wee wheel spotted in the Specialized pits

Tomorrow is forecast to be dry and sunny – a perfect, level playing field for finding out how much faster (if at all) the big wheels really are. Catch all the day one action here:

For display purposes only. Loic Bruni is adamant he won;t be racing this on Sunday... or riding it at all this weekend!
New wheels need new forks
Two little numbers - one big story
"Have you heard? I've got a new film out"
Horny Hart's hard hat
A former winner here, Troy Brosnan will be keen to show what he can do on Canyon without the Lourdes weather interfering
Ruaridh Cunningham grabbed his rainbow stripes here as a junior in 2007. He's unfortunately still out with his off-season injury.
Finn Iles is going for two on the trot - both in 2017 and in Fort William
The Iles family tartan
Commencal's 29ers broke cover at the BDS two weeks ago and they clearly liked them enough to keep running them.
Wouldn't be Fort Bill without it
This is one of the most well-attended World Cups on the circuit, it showed in track walk.
The new section's distinct orange dirt stands it out from the rest of the track, it will be great to watch from the gondola for fans
A lot of resurfacing has been done since last year - a quick rainstorm and a B practice session should sort that right out though
Breaking the internet one Instagram post at a time
Pssssssssssst
2016: 12 seconds, 2015: 8 seconds - Rachel is a woman who knows she has plenty of time in her back pocket here
First Elite man down the hill on Saturday will be Alex Fayolle, he's nervous but clearly stoked beyond belief
Rachel and Tracey are one and three coming into this race but were happy to swap tips on track
There's a pretty sizeable huck here from Minnaar to Frew,
The man to beat?
Two crashes in the past two years for Manon on this track. A full run will almost certainly see her challenging for the win.
The woods caused a lot of trouble last year and rightly got a lot of attention today
Some trees have been removed but it still looks like an awkward gauntlet
Kenta Gallagher taking notes from the series leader
Two consecutive second places behind the peerless Minnaar here for Gwin. He'll be wanting to change that and fast

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