Fort William, a classic stop on the World Cup tour, and as a stats geek it’s the best one to preview simply because there’s so much information to look at. 12 years of results give us a great idea of the shape of the race, the winning times and a good look back at some classic races of years gone by.
The roll of honour at Fort William is one of the longest in World Cup racing but still only a few names appear on it. Greg Minnaar tops the list with 4 wins, Gee Atherton and Sam Hill coming next with two each. The only other riders who have a Fort William win on their palmeres are Aaron Gwin, Steve Peat, Cedric Gracia and Chris Kovarik. Of those single winners, only one was after 2005, since then Minnaar, Atherton and Hill have had this race sewn up apart from Gwin’s win in 2012.
So how big have those winning gaps been? You can’t talk about this subject at Fort William without referencing Chris Kovarik’s 14 second demolition of the field in 2002. Since then the gap to second place has fluctuated between 0.5 and 3.5 seconds. The other interesting fact from 2002 was that Cedric Gracia and Nathan Rennie tied for second place, both exactly 14.020 seconds behind Kovarik.
Looking at podium positions, the Minnaar, Atherton, Hill domination looks even more stark. Minnaar and Atherton both have 9 podiums – a 75% success rate – with Hill just behind on 7. No one else has stood on the podium more that 4 times since 2002.
So if I was to go for a prediction, it’s hard to look past the trio of Minnaar, Ahterton and Gwin. Hill has the history here and did well last year but perhaps doesn’t have that winning momentum at the moment. The great thing about World Cup racing though, is that there are now a huge pack of riders all capable of the win. Will we see a new name on that roll of honour in 2014? It would certainly shake up the overall if we did!