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.
Anyway, if you don’t know where Fort Bill is…
X marks the spot.
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|
|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.
Open Gallery139 Images
Oh, and remember the Avon Skin So Soft for all those midges.
Who do you think is going to take the win this year?