2021 and Team Wideopenmag’s final British National Downhill Series round would play out in the slate-dominated hills of Blaenau Ffestiniog.
A decade of racing for Team Wideopenmag would come to a close in North Wales last weekend, but even as the final curtain closed on our stint at the UK downhill races, there was a race and a series to be won still.
Words and photos by Ian Lean.
The final round of the British National Downhill Series took us to North Wales last weekend bringing to a close the 2021 season. The venue was Antur Stiniog, a name we haven’t heard on the race calendar since 2016 so many of the riders who have only been on the scene a short while might not have raced here before and one they probably won’t forget too quickly .
Located in what was a thriving slate mining town until the early 2000s, Antur houses some pretty epic views from the start gate before descending down a track which consists of hard packed slate, flowing corners, mellow jumps and some pretty gnarly chutes, especially when wet.
Not only was it the finale round of the 2021 season but it also marked the end of an era for Team Wideopenmag who after 10 years and supporting some of the UK’s finest young talent will no longer be seen in the pits come 2022. Whilst it’ll be a huge shame not to be erecting the WO easy-up come rain or shine in various parts of the UK next season we’re leaving on a high.
After taking pride in helping young British talent to achieve their goals over the years many of whom have moved onto greater things even winning World Cups and being signed by factory teams. All is not lost though, we’ll still be covering the races so you can still look forward to finding the best race coverage over on our website from every round.
It was always going to be optimistic organising a race in North Wales in October but fortunately the weather gods were on our side this weekend and besides the odd sprinkle of rain midway through Saturday practice we were met largely by favourable weather despite the track being greasy underneath from the previous weeks deluge of rain that swept the country.
The greasy surface caught a lot of people out during Saturday’s practice leading to multiple red flags and an unfortunate hour and half course hold so medical staff could evacuate a young girl who needed to be stretchered off the hillside after breaking her collarbone in what turned out to be the most problematic spot on the whole track.
Race day arrived bringing with it bright blue skies almost as if summer had returned. Sunshine in Wales in October you say. We’ll definitely take that. The track began to dry out quickly and by the time race runs arrived riders were smashing seeding times by a good few seconds.
All eyes were on the Elite Women’s category as it was the only category where the title would be decided at the final round after a hotly contested season between KJ Sharp and Stacey Fisher. In the end Stacey came out on top taking the win and KJ finishing 3rd. We’re already looking forward to seeing the battle commence between these two in 2022.
Elite men’s category was already sewn up by Roger Vieira before the final round who was pipped at the post here at the final round by One Vision racing rider Dan Slack and Taylor Vernon rounding out the top 3.
Jordan Williams took the Junior Men category who battled with Preston Williams all season for the title. Preston moves up to Elite next year meaning someone else will have to step up to the plate to try and dethrone Jordan who is staggeringly only in his first term as a Junior. Junior women was won by Aimi Kenyon which isn’t much of a surprise as she’s owned it all season, here she beat the field by over 10 seconds.
Full results from the Antur Stiniog round of the British National Downhill Series can be found here.