Atherton and Hart shine to win downhill mountain bike world titles in British double

Atherton and Hart shine to win downhill mountain bike world titles in British double

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Rachel Atherton and Danny Hart were crowned downhill world champions on a sensational day for the Great Britain Cycling Team at the UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Championships in Val di Sole.

Atherton became the first rider to complete a perfect season with a fourth world title victory in the women’s event.

The 28-year-old was the final rider down the start ramp and dealt with the pressure to deliver a superb run, her time of 4:20.187 three seconds quicker than France’s Myriam Nicole.

2011 world champion Hart, on the back of three successive UCI Mountain Bike World Cup wins, took his second world title with a pulsating run in 3:32.484.

Hart’s heroics meant that fellow Briton Laurie Greenland, just 19, took silver after a remarkable run in his first year as an elite rider, just under three seconds slower than Hart.

Awesome Atherton

“I cannot actually believe it,” said Atherton, who has now won world titles in 2008, 2013, 2015 and 2016.  

“I went for it, I didn’t care if I crashed, I’ve had such a good year. This track is wild, mad, you can’t even ride it - it’s a controlled drop.

“It’s just so rad, racing is just mad, there is nothing else like it. I wish everyone could experience it. It’s so cool.

“There were nerves. Winning all the world cups, the perfect end to the perfect season. I’m absolutely knackered. It’s in the history books, I’ll probably never be as good as I am now. I’m going to enjoy the moment.”

Britain's Tahnee Seagrave was fifth with a time of 4:45.486 while 2014 world champion Manon Carpenter fell heavily in the opening section the course and was unable to continue, holding her wrist ater the crash.

Hart back on top

2015 junior world champion Laurie Greenland stunned the elite men's field with a blistering run of 3:35.411 early in proceedings as numerous riders crashed on a brutal, unforgiving course.

The youngster held on to the lead until Hart produced a mesmerising performance that brought back memories of his 2011 triumph to shave nearly three seconds from Greenland’s time.

And when American Aaron Gwin crashed out as the final rider on the course, the British one-two was confirmed.

“After the year I’ve had I can believe it, I been working hard,” said Hart.

“It’s a big goal of mine. I was just ready for it. The last few months has been massive because the last five years have been a pain. It is nice just getting back to where I was.”

Heap best Brit in junior men

Elliot Heap was Britain’s best finisher in the junior men’s event in sixth, with the top six separated by less than seven seconds with four Britons in the top ten.

Heap, 17, completed his run in 3:53.107 to go fastest but gradually fell back as Canada’s Finnley Iles was crowned champion in 3:47.405.  

Of the remaining British riders, Charlie Hatton was sixth, Matt Walker eighth, Joe Breeden ninth, Kaos Seagrave 15th and Joe Parfitt 70th while James Purvis did not finish.

Tutt in junior women

In the junior women’s event, 17-year-old Briton Aston Tutt was eighth in a time of 6:27.611. Italy’s Alessia Missiaggia took the rainbow jersey in a time of 5:29.011, over 11 seconds faster than second place Samantha Kingshill of the USA.

Results

Elite men

Elite women

Junior men

Junior women

Gallery

2016 UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Championships