One omission from this year’s British Cycling World Champs squad was Gee Atherton. We take a look at whether Gee should have made the cut, and why he didn’t.
There’s no doubt that the 2018 British Cycling Downhill Team for the World Championships is a strong one.
Multiple former World Champions and plenty of other riders knocking at the door make up the elite ranks, with a full compliment of juniors to get that much needed experience and maybe a medal or two.
So what do you need to do to get selected for a World Champs squad?
Either a top 10 at a World Cup or a National Championships win, or both, is the Golden Ticket to selection to represent Great Britain at the World Championships.
Beyond that, previous experience or the likelihood of winning a medal comes into play.
There seems to be no hard and fast rule though, as historically, there have been riders that have been included that maybe shouldn’t have been… Remember Steve Peat racing the 2007 World Champs in Fort William on an ankle that was barely visible through strapping?
Then there comes to Gee Atherton and 2018.
Should Gee Atherton have made the World Champs squad?
We think so.
With 101 World Cups to his name, experience is something Gee Atherton has in spades. In his 101st World Cup he qualified first and came second in the finals. Before that, all the 8s in Mont Saint Anne.
Mike Jones squeezes in with an 8th in Leogang, despite an up and down season.
If you look at the squad above, there really is only one rider that hasn’t met the criteria but has made the team, and that rider is Phil Atwill. A 15th spot in Val di Sole was Phil’s best result, with two 20ths being his next best.
That said, Phil Atwill made a strong case for inclusion after bagging his first ever World Cup podium at Lenzerheide last year with a 5th. That said, current form is current form, and Phil hasn’t been anywhere near the tail end of the podium since.
So why no Gee?
If you’re picking wild cards, as Phil Atwill surely is in this case, why not go for a man who’s won multiple World Championships, National titles, World Cups plus all the rest?
To put this into context, Gee has been selected for every World Championships for Great Britain since 2001, only missing out in 2016 through injury. That is 16 times Gee has made the cut for the World Champs squad. Of those 16, 5 have been podiums (two Junior and three Elite). Of those 5, two have been Senior wins, and two Junior silver medals.
Gee’s results through the year are more consistent despite injury throughout, before a sharp upward trajectory after Vallnord.
Two top 10 results means he’s arguably now ahead of both Mike Jones and Phil Atwill in making the cut.
The team announcement came on July 31st, meaning that the selection was made with at least two World Cups to go.