World champions Gee Atherton and Manon Carpenter won the opening round of the 2015 British Cycling MTB Downhill Series in Ae Forest on Sunday.
In seeding, Atherton finished fourth, clocking 2.23.415 – nearly two seconds down on fastest man Innes Graham.
It was only in the final sector of the final run that Atherton showed his class.
One second down at the first split and in fifth place, Atherton found five seconds on his seeding run in the final minute, crossing the line in 2.18.866.
Mike Jones – fastest on the first part of the track – finished 0.462 seconds down on Atherton, but clung onto second, ahead of a returning Josh Bryceland.
After the race, Atherton alluded to the high level of competition.
Always good to take a win at a British round when there's so many fast boys pushing on, solid weekend… https://t.co/SPMO9KgS7P— gee atherton (@gee_atherton) April 5, 2015
Manon Carpenter’s win was far more assured – despite a puncture in the closing stages of her race run.
Winning seeding and improving on her time by two seconds for the final, Carpenter completed her second run in 2.44.156, beating fourcross world champion Katy Curd by 2.646 seconds.
This next round of the series takes place on 16-17 May in Fort William.