2021 European Champion Jordan Williams was in fine form as he added to his already successful year with a Silver medal at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in the junior men’s downhill competition.
Starting the day as a medal hopeful, Williams made light work of the course and charged over the finish line in a time of 3:38.909, the first junior rider to go under the three minutes and 40 second mark, only eventual winner Jackson Goldstone (Canada) would do the same.
Williams’ time would have placed him just outside the top-20 in the elite men’s competition ten seconds down, showing that the 17-year-old has a bright future in downhill mountain bike.
In the elite competitions, Danny Hart and Tahnee Seagrave both finished fifth in the men’s and women’s downhill finals.
Hart shot his way into the lead and had a brief spell on the hot seat by going faster than anyone else at the time by three seconds. The two-time world champion was looking to make it three, but a determined 39-year-old Greg Minnaar (South Africa) prevailed the eventual winner to win his fourth World Championship.
The same hot seat was occupied by Seagrave earlier in the day, but she also had to watch as four other riders would come in ahead of her, including winner Myriam Nicole (France).
Eight British men would contest the elite men’s downhill finals, and it was placed upon Joe Breeden to be the first one of them down the infamous Val di Sole course in Italy. The 22-year-old has just recovered from a broken collarbone sustained a month ago and produced a solid return to racing with a time of 3:37.610 and a fifth place for the time being.
After Breeden had been, the British contingent came thick and fast, the next up being Greg Williamson in a time of 3:42.545 and 20th place finish as he crossed the line. Following Williamson was Charlie Hatton producing a time of 3:45.504 and 26th on the line.
One of the race-favourites Laurie Greenland produced a blistering quick qualification run earlier in the week finishing second in a time of 3.33.430. Greenland came into Sunday with high hopes and his run looked to be going well, fourth fastest through the first time split.
However, it would be an off-camera crash that lost Greenland a bunch of seconds, he would roll across the line in 4:02.216. Bernard Kerr was up next, and he would produce a storming run in a time of 3:35.973 which would soon be overshadowed by the reigning World Champion.
Winner of the rainbow stripes in 2020 at Leogang, Austria, Reece Wilson wasn’t going to let the rainbow jersey leave his shoulders without a fight. Time splits showed that Wilson, was going quick but it was at the final split he took the virtual lead from Andreas Kolb (Austria) before sending it as deep as possible over the ‘Hydro Jump’.
It was on the landing that Wilson would suffer a front blowout to his front tyre and he was forced to fight the bike all the way to finish line in 3:35.948 and finish fifth on the line.
Up step Danny Hart, winner of the 2016 UCI MTB World Championships in Val di Sole, Italy – it was a return to the same course five years later and Hart held high hopes on repeating the same result.
The man from Redcar lit up the time splits in green all the way down the track and crossed the finish line three seconds ahead of Finn Isles (Canada) to take top step on the hot seat.
It would take a speeding Benoit Coulanges (France) to take the lead from Hart in a time of 3:29.190 soon after, before Troy Brosnan (Australia) made himself known to Hart taking second place in 3:29.404 pushing Hart down to third with five riders left to race.
One of them riders was British National Champion Matt Walker. Walker put in a brilliant run and finished fourth in 3:32.122, one thousandth of a second ahead of David Trummer (Austria) but behind Hart in third.
Following Walker down the mountain was legend of the sport Greg Minnaar (South Africa) who 20 years after winning his first medal at a UCI Mountain Bike World Championships and 18 years after winning his first World title, he took the lead and would win his fourth World Championship.
Minnaar and Loris Vergier (France) in a time of 3:30.129 filled the gap to Danny Hart who would eventually finish fifth and highest-placed Brit.
Final GB Standings
Danny Hart – 5th
Matt Walker – 7th
Reece Wilson – 15th
Bernard Kerr – 16th
Joe Breeden – 20th
Greg Williamson – 37th
Charlie Hatton – 43rd
Laurie Greenland – 65th
Katherine Sharp was first out the gate for the British contingent, a clean first sector saw her hit the first time split in 50.386 seconds, however Sharp wouldn’t make it to the next split as she unfortunately crashed out and would go down as a DNF.
Stacey Fisher followed suit and produced a stunning run, racing all the way to the finish in a time of 4:40.005 which placed her seventh. Teammate Mikayla Parton was the tenth rider from last to take to the course after a quick qualifying run earlier in the week.
5:26.605 would be her final time, after crashing in the aptly named, ‘The Hell’ section of the course which would take many other riders including Valentina Holl (Austria) who was on course behind Parton.
Tahnee Seagrave, two-time silver medallist at the World Championships had her eye on finally going one better and she delivered a time that looked worthy of taking home the rainbow jersey in 4:16.024 and took the top step in the hot seat.
On the line she beat Millie Johnset’s (Norway) time by two hundredths of a second and being followed down the course by Eleonora Farina (Italy), the Italian couldn’t beat Seagrave’s time on the line, losing out by just one hundredth of a second, making things tight at the top.
With four riders left to go all Seagrave could do was watch the clock. Marine Caribou (France) was next and blew everyone out the water in 4:11.070 to take first place, five seconds ahead of Seagrave, followed by Monika Hrastnik (Serbia) in 4:15.328 taking second narrowly and leaving Seagrave in a nervous wait for Bronze.
Seagrave would watch Camille Balanche (Switzerland) produce a run in 4:12.342 which would mean no podium for Seagrave, however the British rider would stick around the hot seat and congratulate Myriam Nicole (France) who produced the best time of the day, a 4:06.243. Seagrave would finish fifth overall.
Final GB Standings
Tahnee Seagrave – 5th
Stacey Fisher – 16th
Mikayla Parton – 27th
Katherine Sharp – DNF/29th
On the day Jordan Williams took home a World Championship Silver medal, it was his teammate Connor Smith of Great Britain who got the junior men’s competition underway. If there were any nerves about being first down the track, he put them to one side and set a fantastic time of 4:02.201.
30 minutes later and 20 riders into the competition, that time would hold Smith in sixth place, with fellow British riders Jack Piercy in second place (3:50.185) and Ryan Brannen in third place (3:51.387) behind Sebastian Holguin Villa (Columbia) leading.
The trio of British riders were all stacked together on the timings and with twelve riders left to start they occupied sixth, seventh and eighth.
Dennis Luffman, the quickest Brit in qualification was up next and managed a time of 3:53.550 to place 11th in the standings as he crossed the line.
However, it would be medal hopeful Jordan Williams who made light work of the course and charged over the finish line in a time of 3:38.909, the first rider to go under the three minutes and 40 second mark.
Ethan Craik was next down and produced a final time of 3:41.945 to sit fourth place in the final standings, just over a second behind eventual Bronze medallist Lachlan Stevens-McNab (New Zealand).
Jackson Goldstone (Canada) would be the only other rider to go under the three minutes and 40 second mark, and in doing so bettering Williams’ time in the process to take the Gold medal.
The remaining British riders, Preston Williams and William Brodie would go on to finish with times of 5:02.174 and 4:05.617 respectively.
Final GB Standings
Jordan Williams 2nd
Ethan Craik 4th
Jack Piercy 13th
Ryan Brannen 14th
Dennis Luffman 17th
Connor Smith 22nd
William Brodie 27th
Preston Williams 40th
Phoebe Gale didn’t take to the start line in the junior women’s qualification or final run. Gale fractured her wrist in a “small crash” earlier in the week which put her out of action. The 17-year-old who has two World Cup wins to her name this year looked in great form going into the competition.
Gale in a message on Instagram said, “Gutted! Fractured my wrist in a small crash yesterday so won’t be racing World Champs. Big love @fmdracing for the support.”