Fort William Preview – 2014 UCI Downhill World Cup

There’s been a big old gap since the first two rounds of the 2014 Downhill World Cup season, but now race fever has well and truly hit the UK thanks to the series returning this weekend to the legendary venue that is Fort William. It might be great to see new tracks on the circuit, but we can’t ever imagine a series without a stop at Fort Bill. The track is a true test of man and machine, the scenery is stunning, and the crowds and atmosphere are in a class of their own.

If you’ve never been then you really should, and if you read our ‘how to get to Fort William on a shoestring‘ feature you’ll see it doesn’t have to cost a fortune either.

Our ‘Fort William Infographic‘ is full of all kinds of facts and figures about the event, so if you missed that last week then you can find that here.

Anyway, if you don’t know where Fort Bill is…

X marks the spot.

The Track:

The Downhill is a full-on, flat-out, no-compromise charge down the face of Aonach Mor, the 9th highest mountain in the UK. Riders need physical strength, quick reflexes, superb bike control and an unerring eye for the right line as they speed down the 2.8km long course. And a lot of bottle!

“The permanent Nevis Range Downhill track has received some radical upgrades over the past few years, adding new features and making it one of the toughest most demanding courses on the circuit.

Starting beside the top station of the gondola the course descends 555m. Most of the course is visible from the gondola (the mountain cableway used for skiing in the winter, which provides access for riders with bikes and spectators), giving great views of riders as they charge down below you.

The fast top section of the course is framed by stunning views of Ben Nevis, the sea lochs of Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil, and the islands of the Inner Hebrides. Rock gardens, rock slabs, big jumps and technical natural sections will provide plenty of challenges all the way to the magnificent finish section and the incredible noise of the best spectators in the world.”

They aren’t kidding either when they say ‘the best spectators in the world’ because come finals time the atmosphere and noise never fails to give me goosebumps. It’s a truly special place to be, and the photo below only hints at the magic of this event.

Here’s exactly what’s happening, and when.

WC 2014 Schedule
Thursday 5 June
0830 – 1100 DHI Course Inspection by UCI
0900 – 0930 DHI Confirmation – UCI Elite Teams Only
0930 – 1100 DHI Confirmation – UCI Teams Only
1100 – 1300 DHI Confirmation – All Riders
1200 – approx Claudio’s GoPro course run (+ forerunner and following biker)
1300 – 1400 BUFF® 4X Course Inspection by UCI
1330 – 1545 Gondola open to riders with accreditation
1400 – 1600 On foot DHI Course Inspection – Riders/Teams
1430 – 1600 BUFF® 4X Confirmation – All Riders
1615 – 1800 BUFF® 4X Training
Friday 6 June
0830 – 1100 Final Confirmation DHI and BUFF® 4X – All Riders
0830 – 1200 DHI Training Group B (All other riders)
1000 – 1600 Saint Test Track (hourly sessions)
1100 – 1430 DHI Training Group A (Elite men with race numbers 1 – X where X is decided by UCI TD)
1445 – 1615 DHI Timed Training top 80 M, top 20 W and top 10JM of latest UCI WC ranking list
1615 – 1645 On foot Inspection – Riders/Teams
1630 – 1800 BUFF® 4X Training
1700 – Team Manager’s Meeting
18-15 – 1930 (est.) BUFF® 4X Pro Tour Qualification
Saturday 7 June
0800 – Site Open to Teams
0830 – Site Open to Public
0830 – 1000 DHI Training Group B (All other Riders) + BUFF® Whip Comp
0900 – 1530 British Trials Cup & Scottish Biketrial Championship
1015 – 1145 DHI Training Group A (Elite men with race numbers 1 – X where X is decided by UCI TD) + BUFF® Whip Comp
1030 – 1230 Scottish Power Youth Mini DH Races
1200 – 1225 Dougie Lampkin’s Speed Trial
1230 – World Cup DHI Qualifying Junior Men

– 1330
Scottish Power Youth Mini DH Races Prize Giving immediately after Junior Men TBC
1330 – 1630 Saint Test Track (hourly sessions)
1330 – World Cup DHI Qualifying Elite Women
1400 – World Cup DHI Qualifying Elite Men
1545 – 1600 Awards Ceremony Scottish Biketrial Championship
1600 – 1630 (est.) 30 mins on foot Inspection – Riders/Teams, after end of qualification
1600 – 1630 Dougie Lampkin’s Speed Trial
1635 – 1650 BUFF® 4X Rider Into Top 4 Women and Top 4 Men
1650 – 1750 BUFF® 4X Training
1800 – 1930 (est.) BUFF® 4X Pro Tour – Followed by Awards Ceremony
Sunday 8 June
0800 – Site Opens to Teams
0815 – Gondola Open for Riders
0830 – Site Opens to Public
0830 – 1000 DHI Training World Cup Finals Starters Junior Men and Women
0900 – 1500 British Trials Cup
1000 – 1600 Saint Test Track
1030 – 1100 Dougie Lampkin’s Speed Trial
1015 – 1145 DHI Training World Cup Finals Starters Men Elite
1200 – 1215 DHI Rider Intro Top 5 Qualifying & World Cup Leaders (elite & junior)
1215 – 1230 Red Bull Matador aerial acrobatic display
1230 – Men Junior World Cup Downhill Final
1315 – Women World Cup Downhill Final
1400 – Men World Cup Final – Followed by Awards Ceremony
1630 – 1645 (est.) Awards Ceremony British Trials Cup

Weather wise it’s Scotland so anything could happen really, but in the past we’ve been treated to some glorious sunshine. Will it be the same again this year? Well the forecasters can’t seem to agree all that much, with some even predicting thunderstorms come race time on Sunday. Let’s hope that isn’t the case though because thunderstorms stop the cable car from running! Anyway, the forecast below seems to be the most common consensus with a scattering of showers over the weekend, heaviest on Saturday.

And if for some crazy reason you’re not already going crazy with anticipation for the race weekend, then why not help things along by watching our finals video from last year…

Finally, if you like checking out riders and their bikes, then below is the bumper riders gallery that we shot last year. Hopefully we’ll get the chance to do the same this year.

Oh, and remember the Avon Skin So Soft for all those midges.

Who do you think is going to take the win this year?

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