Fort William World Cup – finals photo story

//photos by Ian Lean

//words by Jamie Edwards

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Fort William. The greatest mountain bike race on the planet. Stand in the crowd on a Sunday afternoon and you’ll be in no doubt that you’re at the absolute epicenter of mountain biking. 20,000 fans, the fastest racers on Earth, the most advanced technology and the most dedicated, hardcore fans. It’s mountain bike race perfection.

As fast as they are, the World’s fastest downhillers weren’t go anywhere near the pace of the two Red Bull Zivko Edge 540’s that screamed overhead mid-way through finals.

warmup

Martin Maes and Taylor Vernon warming up in the Scottish sun. Fort William can be a bitch for warm ups when the weather sucks. Everyone crowds in to the lift stations, battling for shelter and space to set up their turbo. Luckily for these two the sun was out and they could enjoy the view whilst getting ready to go. It obviously did the trick for Martin, helping him on his way to his first DH World Cup and his first win. Martin was the true success story of Fort William. Saying that, 5th place for Tay wasn’t too shabby either!

ratboy

“It was ok…” Josh wasn’t stoked with his result, he crossed the line and told me he was happy enough, but frustrated that he hadn’t gone faster. 13th place but he definitely won practice by a mile.

rich

Wideopen’s very own Rich Thomas at his first World Cup of the year. Rich qualied with a solid result but got a bit caught up in his race run, ending up with a solid 58th. Not bad for a part-time racer and full time tree-surgeon! He’s on his way to Leogang now with Scott Mears and team mate Jay Williamson to go again. Good luck boys!

simmonds

Matt Simmonds. 15th place. Disappointing for him no doubt after qualieing in 8th place. Matt was trucking in the top section and was 8th at the top split … but lost time lower down, falling down the pack. Simmonds has got it though and his new bike and new team are obviously doing the trick. His day is coming!

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sunlight

The weekend was punctuated by constant weather warnings that luckily never turned in to much. Sunday never saw the epic winds that were threatened – instead the Fort flitted between sun and rain and sun and rain all day long.

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Laurie Greenland’s first Fort William World Cup. Laurie has won the last two British national races that he’s entered at the Fort and smashed out an incredible 6th place and 58th overall WITH a crash in his run. That is simply incredible.

People say that the Fort isn’t “the sort of track that suits Laurie” but that’s bullshit. He’s incredibly smooth and great at carrying speed, doubling up and hitting jumps. Laurie is FAST at Fort William. Good luck in Leogang young gun!

gwin

Gwinn had the #1 plate for Fort Willam but could only manage 4th place. Disappointing for him no doubt – but a big improvement on his 20th place at the Fort in 2013.

hill

Sam Hill is back. Sure, everyone else has got faster but he seems to be over his injury and back destroying mountain bike tracks. 2nd place for Sam after his second place the week before at the British national. Who doesn’t want to see Sam Hill win a World Cup or two this season?

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Another amazingly talented UK racer, Greg Williamson. Greg qualied in 64th place but stepped it up for finals to take 8th place, beating so many older, more experienced racers. Big, big things are on the horizon for Greg.

minaar

Greg Minnaar was amazingly consistent in his race run. He hit the first split in 17th then nailed 7th place in both of the following splits. Riding with such consistency all the way down is such a rare thing … but it wasn’t enough to get Greg on the podium. Fort William was Greg’s 100th World Cup – congratulations!

ragot

The women’s race was a wild one. Manon punctured. Tahnee punctured. Rachel Atherton got bloody disqualified! That left the top spot wide open for Emmeline Ragot and her brand new, only-one-on-the-mountain Lapierre prototype to take the top spot.

brosnan

And the man himself. Troy Brosnan. Your 2014 Fort William World Cup winner. This was Troy’s first World Cup win and the crowd went absolutely bonkers as he hit the Scotland arch and screamed in to the finsh. Troy’s victory wasn’t easily won though, for the first 3rd of the race Danny Hart was on top and Troy was down in 6th. He stormed the technical middle section faster than anyone and then settled back down into 6th for the pedally bottom section. Luckily for him though it was enough to take the win. It will be really interesting to see what Troy can do next weekend at Leogang.

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And your women’s podium – Emmeline Ragot, Myriame Nicole and Tracey Hannah.

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And the men. Brosnan, Sam Hill, Danny Hart.

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And that’s it for another year! Another amazing, unforgettable, game changing race on the slopes of Anoch Mor. Thanks Scotland, see you again soon for the UK National Champs!


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