Rachel Atherton stormed to a historic sixth downhill World Cup title with a third victory of the season in La Bresse.
The 30-year-old needed to finish in the top three to claim the overall crown but Atherton signed off the World Cup season in style, claiming first place ahead of compatriot Tahnee Seagrave.
This was Atherton’s 37th career World Cup victory as she became the first woman to win six overall World Cup titles.
Seagrave had been fastest in qualifying but couldn’t clinch a fourth win of the season as she finished 0.6 behind Atherton.
Atherton battled to victory in difficult conditions and the Trek Factory Racing rider admits she was pushed all the way in her pursuit of history.
She said: “That is, hands down, one of the hardest races I’ve ever done. After qualifying in the rain and Tahnee put an epic run down and I thought if I want to win this, then I have to go full blast.
“But I wanted to make sure I was safe for the overall title, so had to finished at least fourth or fifth.
“As soon as you’re in the gate, that thinking goes out the window because you’re in a race, so I went full blast on a savage track. It was seriously hard and I’m so shocked I beat Tahnee.
“I’ve got all my family here, so it’s really special. Every year, you’re in a battle and it feels like the hardest one because you’re in the thick of it.
History is made by @rachelatherton! She becomes the first female rider to win SIX @UCI_MTB World Cup titles.— British Cycling (@BritishCycling) August 25, 2018
She picks up the win at La Bresse to complete a GB 1-2 with @tahneeseagrave in second while @katycurd finishes in fifth.#MBWorldCup pic.twitter.com/C9Hx1qSmjz
“It’s so cool to look back at all of the battles and have that sixth title. I never thought I’d ever get six. Here we are in some of the worst conditions - I haven't raced in rain like that for years so I’m pretty stoked.”
Double delight for Atherton
There was to be more celebration in the Atherton household as Gee Atherton, brother to Rachel, claimed second place in the men’s competition.
He posted a time of 2:28.232 which was only bettered by Belgium’s Martin Maes to take top spot.
That result gave him 200 points and moved the 33-year-old up to ninth in the overall standings.
Elsewhere, British rider Bernard Kerr finished in fifth, with Danny Hart finishing seventh in La Bresse, ensuring he would finish second in the overall table as Amaury Pierron claimed the World Cup title.
In the men’s junior race, Thibaut Daprela edged out Brit Henry Kerr to take victory in France.
The home favourite clocked up a time of 2:34.291, just 0.7 faster than Kerr as compatriot Kade Edwards rounded off the top three.
That was Daprela’s fourth straight Mountain Bike World Cup victory as he rounded off the season on 380 points, comfortably clear of Kerr in second.
Kerr’s second place finish in La Bresse ensured he would finish above Edwards by a single point in the final standings.
In the women’s junior race, Valentina Holl cruised to a dominant victory, finishing 17 seconds ahead of Paula Zibasa as British pairing Maya Atkinson and Rosy Monaghan finished fifth and sixth.