It’s been three long years since World-level racing took place at Nevis Range and we can’t wait to head north to catch the action.
There’s good reason that the Fort William World Cup is celebrating its 20th year this year, the second longest running World Cup after the almost unassailable Mont Saint Anne. Here are just a few of the things that we’re most excited about this weekend.
If certain races last year and Lourdes showed us anything, it’s that World Cup downhill is better with a baying crowd. Few are as noisy as Fort William, and riders in finals always talk of how they’re shoved down the hill by a wall of noise.
British riders up at the split(s)
While the crowd might well be noisy throughout, nothing gets them whipped into more of a frenzy than their riders being up at the split, especially as they approach the mob corralled around the finish line. You might say this is the best thing about the World Cup in Fort William, the atmosphere on race day is unreal.
Fort William has had its fair share of iconic wins in its twenty year history, from Peaty’s legendary win on the bumblebee Orange to Chris Kovarik’s 14 second demolition, the Athertons’ double win to Ruaridh Cunningham’s home World Champs win, you can expect the racing to be super tight or one rider to make their mark.
2023 will see the coverage come full circle too. Eurosport in 2002 and Eurosport in 2023.
Scottish riders on track
Since the last Fort William World Cup, Scotland has gained a World Champion in the form of Reece Wilson who will wear the Rainbow Stripes forever. His best result here is a 4th in 2018 but you can be sure he’ll be gunning for a win on home turf.
Greg Williamson, the Kerr brothers, Aimi Kenyon, Jamie Edmondson, Mikayla Parton and co. will all be flying the flag for the Scots this year.
As sure as the sun will rise in the east, the Fort William World Cup will have its fair share of fancy dress. Nylon, it would seem, is the best way to keep yourself warm whilst you watch your favourite riders hammer down a large lump of granite.
British Juniors stepping up
Your 2020 World Cup Downhill Champion Matt Walker stood tall atop the Junior podium in 2017 having put five seconds into Finn Iles, and now, his team mate Jordan Williams is locked in a battle with another Canadian, Jackson Goldstone. We’re sure the crowd can help the Madison Saracen pinner out like they did five years ago.
4X Pro Tour
Gone are the days when every World Cup rider would race the 4X on the Saturday night before getting after it in the downhill… The crowd would be several humans deep to watch the chaos that ensued. That first corner… Oh boy.
Lucky for us, the 4X Pro Tour is kicking off on Saturday night so get on top of that first berm and watch the sparks fly.
Greg Minnaar being the one to beat
No rider has won at Fort William more times than Greg Minnaar. Seven wins between 2004 and 2017, the current World Champion will be looking to find his form in his home away from home and make it eight.
Tracy Moseley came close with five wins but likely won’t start at the 2022 event. Rachel Atherton has four home wins, while man of the moment, Amaury Pierron sits on two. The flying Frenchman will be looking to add a third and extend his lead in the overall.
It’s why we all go, right?
It would be hard to draw too many predictions from Lourdes, as Fort William is another 90 seconds longer (Pierron won Fort William in 2019 with a 4:28.58 vs his Lourdes winning time of 2:47.71), considerably less steep and actually gets a bit grippier with a touch of moisture.
Amaury Pierron is clearly the man on form though. He took the win despite a wobble in France and won the last two World Cups in Fort William. We’d like to think we’ll see a few more Brits in the mix compared to the French domination on their home turf.
Camille Balanche kept her head in the Holy city and we’d expect her to do much the same in Scotland. Myriam Nicole is still recovering from concussion which leaves Seagrave, Holl, Cabirou and Hoffman chasing down the Swiss champ.
The unique track
Granite dominates much of the Fort William track with the softer spots in between soon becoming unwelcoming holes as the weekend develops. A renowned bike destroyer, Fort William gives you one of the longest World Cup tracks (2.8km) even if it lacks the outright Alpine elevation change (555m).
Like any hill in Scotland, you will meet the trees and some actual mud and some point, and Nevis Range has one of the hardest transitions on the circuit. Three minutes of granite bashing, a minute of woods then sprint your ringer off down the motorway with whatever you have left.
The upper slopes do well for a bit of moisture, the lime used is very slippy when bone dry, but the woods could do with no rain to run really fast. You can’t have both…
Expect a tickle to the track below the deer fence this year.
What do you love about the Fort William World Cup? Let us know on our Facebook page.