Tahnee Seagrave is pushing fellow Brit Rachel Atherton right to the wire in the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup after racing to victory in Andorra.
Former world champion Atherton was leading the world cup standings ahead of the race in Vallnord, by 100 points, but Seagrave delivered with a lightning-fast run to make it back-to-back World Cup wins after her triumph in Italy last week.
That gap is now down to 80 points after Seagrave (Transition Bikes / Muc-Off Factory Racing) finished in a time of 4:49.840, with Atherton more than four seconds behind (Trek Factory Racing) - a crash midway through her run damaging her chances.
On the steepest track on the World Cup circuit and in dry conditions Australia’s Tracey Hannah took third while British rider Katy Curd finished in 16th.
When asked if she could make it three wins in a row in Canada next month, Seagrave responded positively: “I hope so, I’ll try my best as always but this one is mind-blowing enough.
“I’ve never done well in Andorra, it’s always been pretty unlucky for me so I’m just over the moon.
“It was real difficult, I’ve never had that much time to make up (Atherton qualified more than 13 seconds ahead of Seagrave).
“I like to give myself a good challenge and I’ve said that before but that was a hell of a challenge to give myself, I didn’t think it was going to happen to be honest.”
The British men’s downhill riders were also in excellent form in Val di Sole last week, with both Laurie Greenland and Danny Hart taking top-three finishes, and they continued that good form at Vallnord.
Greenland (MS Mondraker Team) was fastest on the steep sections in qualifying and as one of the last riders down the hill finished up in fourth place.
Hart (Madison Saracen factory Team) went just after Greenland but could only finish sixth as all the riders had to tip their hat to the brilliance of the French riders on the day.
Canada’s Finn Iles set the early running, with Loic Bruni holding second just behind him, but France’s Loris Vergier stormed down to smash Iles’ lead by four seconds, taking his first World Cup win.
Vergier’s fellow countryman Amaury Pierron was in the hunt for a historic fourth win in a row but couldn’t trump Vergier’s blistering ride and had to settle for second.
“I cry a lot, I just want to cry for ten years now," said Vergier. "All your life your chasing something and your hard work pays off.
“I can’t really talk right now, I’m stoked.
“It was a bit dry and slippy up there so you had to be smooth on your lines and stay on the bike, I was a bit unfocused down the bottom but I’m so glad I made it, so stoked.”
Britain’s junior world champion, Matt Walker, finished in 11th while Philip Atwill ranked 20th.
The kids are alright
In the men’s juniors, France’s Thibaut Daprela took top spot on the podium with young British rider Henry Kerr (Propain Dirt Sixpack) six seconds behind to take silver.
Australia’s Kye A’Hern finished third and Transition Bikes/Muc-Off’s Jamie Edmondson added 25 points to his overall standings with fourth place.
Fellow Brits Kade Edwards and Luke Birkett took 15th and 19th, respectively.
In the women’s juniors, Austria’s Valentina Holl finished first, ahead of USA’s Anna Newkirk in second and Norway’s Mille Johnset in third.