Big Dave brings you all the insight and info on the second longest running World Cup, the Fort William World Cup at Nevis Range.
Despite the first World Cup being just over 4 weeks ago, it seems like the season has barely started. The Fort William World Cup signals the start of a busy summer of racing, with multiple world cups, Crankworx events and EWS’ coming thick and fast over the next couple of months.
Let’s dig in to the facts and figures and the movers and shakers ahead of the second world cup of the season.
Fort William. One of the longest standing venues on the World Cup circuit, it offers a no holds barred race every single year. It first hosted a World Cup back in 2002 and has held one every single year apart from 2007 when it hosted the World Champs.
The track itself is four and a half minutes of fast, rough, technical track with a big motorway at the end with some big senders before the iconic Visit Scotland arch and descent into a massive finish arena which come Sunday, will host one of the biggest crowds of the year. All riders have a love hate relationship with the track, there is often a piece of track that causes debate, but really everyone loves coming back here every year.
Who went well at the last round and last year?
Last year in the men’s was the point where Pierron first stamped his mark on the championship, which ultimately ended up with him taking the overall. With a 7th at round 1 in Maribor, it’s a better start to the season that in 2018, so you can bet that he will want to repeat his success in 2018 at Fort Bill.
Maribor showed that the changing of the guard was still in session, with the average year of birth on the men’s podium being 1995 and Danny Hart being the eldest. It’s clear that the young guns are out for blood and have put in a strong showing so far this season.
In the women’s, Tahnee took the win over Rachel in Maribor and also took the win at Fort Bill last season, she has definitely got some momentum. However, at the NDS, Tahnee practiced and then opted not to get her bike out on Sunday for the race, perhaps keeping cards close to her chest or opting not to have the pressure of a potential loss at Fort Bill in her head ahead of the World Cup.
Either way, you can guarantee that there is going to be a big battle in the women’s category which is wicked to see. Marine Cabirou had a solid 4th place in Maribor and then came a close 2nd at the NDS a couple of weeks ago to Rachel, so she is certainly not one to rule out for a solid result this weekend.
Who to watch out for this weekend…
The Brits always put on a strong showing at the Fort. Reece Wilson had a career best 4th last year and with Trek Factory Racing backing him this year, you can bet that he will be pushing his hardest to better that this year.
Hart had a 2nd place at Maribor and is always hungry for a result at Fort William. With a best result of 3rd, we all know that it is 2 places lower than he wants at his home race. Hart’s team mate Matt Walker got his first elite podium in Maribor and is clearly well on pace this year.
With an accident at the NDS, Walker will want to back up his podium at round 1 with another solid result. Gee Atherton… Its difficult to talk about Fort William without mentioning Gee. He’s raced here a whopping 32 times in nationals, 4X, World Cups and World Champs. He won the event in 2010 and 2013 and with a win in the NDS a couple of weeks back, you can guarantee that he will want to replicate that success come Sunday.
With Rach and Tahnee duking it out at round one and for the whole of 2018, its likely that the win will come from one of these two.
Last year, the French showed their dominance at Fort William occupying 3 of the 5 podium spots, including Pierron on the top step. They are in with a good shout of repeating that performance this weekend with some strong rides from Pierron, Bruni and Vergier at round 1.
With Bruni taking the top step in Maribor and a 5th last year at Fort William, he will want to back up his statement form the start of the season.
Aboard the new Specialized ‘mullet’ bike, it will be interesting to see if he keeps the smaller wheel out back or opts for the full wagon wheeler this weekend. Vergier had a massive crash on ‘Sam Hill’s corner’ in Maribor but was going fast ahead of that and will certainly be one to watch this weekend.
Marine Cabirou had a solid start to the season and a 2nd place at the NDS in Fort William, you can guarantee that she is gunning for that top step.
Rest of the World
This year, the field is so stacked. There is barely anyone in the top 20 that you don’t think has the potential to win a world cup, especially at Fort William. Gwin had an ‘off-day’ at round 1 with a 6th place and nursing an injury, it will interesting to see how he manages with the long, rough nature of the track.
Minnaar has won here seven times before and three in a row before Pierron won here in 2018, more than any other rider on this track. With a mistake in qualifying at Maribor and missing out on finals for the first time in his career, he’s certainly not one to rule out for a dominant statement on Sunday.
Tracey Hannah has won at Fort William before and bagged a third place at Maribor, one to watch for sure.
Who do we think is going to win?
Hart, Atherton, Vergier
Atherton, Cabirou, Seagrave
Shaw, Wilson, MacDonald
Hannah, Atherton, Cabirou
Bruni, Brosnan, Pierron
Seagrave, Atherton, Hannah
Bruni, Harrison, Hart
Seagrave, Atherton, Hannah
Gee, Hart, Pierron
Atherton, Seagrave, Hannah