12 things to look out for at the Fort William World Cup this weekend

This weekend is the mighty Fort William Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup at Nevis Range.

We’re looking forward to a huge weekend of racing on and off the track.

Here are a few of the things we’re looking forward to seeing (and a couple of things we’re not!).

Martin Maes killing the field.

The Belgian Powerhouse Martin Maes has raced Fort William World Cup 4 times, with 2 Junior World cup wins to his name. With a 10th place last year backed up with a world cup win and a world champs medal, will we see him on the hill this weekend, we bloody hope so!

The Fans.

Fort William consistently has some of the biggest crowds on the circuit, the local schools have the day off on Friday to go to the race and come Sunday, there is in excess of 20k in the finish arena, its an epic atmosphere, with some die-hard fans rocking some epic fancy dress as well.

The GOAT’s big come back

UCI Downhill World Cup Fort William Greg Minnaar Stevie Smith Wideopenmag Santa Cruz Syndicate

After failing to qualify for the first time in his career, Greg Minnaar has a point to prove. Fort William is HIS venue and he’s won here 7 times… so the chances are he’ll be out for blood.

Our prediction is a massive come back from Minnaar with a podium at the very least.

Vali Hoel beating a load of elite racers

Junior female Vali Hoel is guaranteed to be a future World Champion. At the 2018 World Cup at Fort William she won by 30 seconds, enough to place her in 4th in the elite field. She was just 1 second behind 3rd place Rachel Atherton. As a junior, that’s insane!

The Tahnee vs Rachel battle

Whilst Rachel has traditionally hammered Tahnee, 2019 has been a different story. Tahnee Seagrave took the win at World Cup round 1 and then chose not to race at the Fort William British National.

We’re looking forward to seeing whether round one was just luck on Tahnee’s case or whether she’s now genuine competition for Rachel.

We’re also looking forward to seeing Tracey Hannah showing up and giving them both a run for their money.

A new section of track to catch people out

fort william

The organisers often like to put in something spicy on the track somewhere to catch people off guard. Who can remember the muddy woods a couple of years back?!

There’s a chance that this year will see a flat out, open, rough section across the moor in the top section before the Deer Gate. This works as an alternative to one of the classic rock-slab sections. We practised this at the Fort William National Downhill Series race but it was taken out at the last minute.

Riders complaining about the track (but actually enjoying it really)

There is never a world cup in Fort William without a bit of controversy.

The muddy woods a couple of years back being too muddy, the motorway being too tiring and boring, the track being too smooth. We don’t know what the reason will be this weekend, but you can guarantee that there will be one!

Brands displaying new tech

Fort William has a hefty expo area with many brands showing off their new shiny goods. The track is also a great venue to test out new bikes given how long, rough and fast it is. This often means new bikes get revealed at Fort Bill for the first time.

There will be some completely new products in there somewhere, we will try and root them out for you over the weekend.

Wagon Wheelers on Track

With a mullet bike taking the top step at round 1 under Loic Bruni and Fort William being the biggest, roughest track on the circuit it’s likely we’ll see big wheels go fastest.

Gee Atherton won the British National at Fort William on 29″, Amaury Pierron won the Fort Bill World Cup on 29″ in 2018, with 6 of the top 10 racers at that event running Wagon Wheels.

4x ProTour

The 4x ProTour is a great side-show to the main downhill event.

Practice is held on Friday with the racing on Saturday night after the downhill qualie finishes.

It’s a great event to watch while you are taking in the downhill and there are some racers that could easily provide an upset in the results.

The Weather (and the bloody midgies)

Yep, it looks like the forecast is pointing towards a wet race, which arguably makes the track better, but also can make it a bit spicier, one to watch for sure!

If you’re heading over pack plenty of waterproofs and some jungle-strength midgie spray!

Aaron Gwin racing on …. we’re not sure

He’s won races with no chain, he’s won them with no tyre. Can he do it with no bike?!

Seriously though, with his race bike still missing we’re looking forward to seeing what Aaron turns up on to race.

Aaron has been testing two bikes, a large and an extra-large, with the large going missing. At round 1 he was chopping and changing between the two in order to find the best fit.

We’re looking forward to seeing whether Aaron jumps onto the XL or someone steps in and lends him a bike for the weekend. Or if there’s a last-minute team effort from his sponsors to build a bike with the level of customisation that he’s used to. It’ll be interesting to see what he ends up on.