Hart and Atherton win at round one of British Cycling MTB Downhill Series

Hart and Atherton win at round one of British Cycling MTB Downhill Series

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Danny Hart and Rachel Atherton opened their seasons in style with wins at the first round of Shimano British Cycling MTB Downhill Series at Artur Stiniog.

Hart (Giant Factory Race Team) set a time of 2:30.113 to take the elite men’s category on Sunday, over a second quicker than second-place Josh Bryceland’s (Santa Cruz Syndicate) 2:31.667.

Matthew Simmonds (Madison Saracen Factory Team) rounded off the podium in 2:31.856 as a crash in the seeding run brought Gee Atherton’s weekend to a premature end.

"Really happy with how the weekend ended, taking the W at the first round of the @britishdownhill... Thanks to everyone for their help..." Hart tweeted.

British, world and world cup champion Rachel Atherton (GT Factory Racing) continued the stunning form from her dominant 2013 with a convincing victory in the elite women’s category.

The 26-year-old’s effort of 2:45.616 over the 1.9-kilometre course was nearly three seconds quicker than the 2:48.596 set by 2011 junior world champion Manon Carpenter (Madison Saracen Factory Team).

A high-quality podium was completed by junior world champion Tahnee Seagrave, the FMD Racing rider managing a time of 2.59.866.

Atherton tweeted: "Buzzing to take the win at the first national today. Tough race, tough track, tough competition!"

The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup starts on the 11 April at Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, where Atherton won her world title last year.