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British downhill 1-2 tops off successful weekend in Norway

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UCI Mountain Bike World Cup
Hafjell, Norway
12-15 September 2013
Report: Eddie Allen


Rachel Atherton and Manon Carpenter achieved a memorable 1-2 in the elite women’s downhill in the penultimate round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Halfell, Norway.

Above: Rachel Atherton and Manon Carpenter on the National Championships podium earlier in the year, positions they also occupied in Norway on Sunday.

Newly crowned World champion Atherton backed up her performance in the official timed practice run to dominate the elite women’s competition, finishing 6.7 seconds ahead of Carpenter, with Frenchwomen Myriam Nicole taking third place on a rain soaked Hajfell course which saw numerous crashes.

Following the race, Atherton said:

"I was struggling with the place the other girls crashed, even in the dry. I didn't slow down enough and had a massive slide, but I held it upright. The crowd went crazy and I thought maybe I was doing well."


 
Rachel Atherton  

"I was so nervous before the race. We had two runs before the race and it was wet," said Atherton. "It rained, and it was lethal - so slippery. I had a few wild moments and thought I was going down. I didn't know how fast I could go and I just held on.

"I was struggling with the place the other girls crashed, even in the dry. I didn't slow down enough and had a massive slide, but I held it upright. The crowd went crazy and I thought maybe I was doing well."

Atherton leads the World Cup with one round remaining however her nearest rival, Frenchwoman Emmeline Ragot, could still overtake her.

"Emmeline is right behind me and she gets faster and faster as the year goes on," said Atherton. "It's amazing. The girls are all pushing so hard. I don't know if I've gotten it sewn up. The last round, everyone wants to win and it's going to be fast."

However, with the weekend’s win, Atherton consolidated her position at the top of the world cup rankings with just one round remaining in Leogang, Austria on 22 September.

Junior World Champion, Britain’s Tahnee Seagrave was top junior woman, finishing 12th, 36 seconds back on Atherton. Seagrave leads the overall world cup standings with one round remaining.

Gee Atherton holds a slender 17 point lead in the elite men’s downhill competition, with a win for Canadian Steve Smith closing the gap at the top of the world cup table. Atherton finished 12th, eight seconds back on Smith, with Danny Hart characteristically revelling in the rainy conditions and taking second place behind Smith. Atherton clipped a tree toward the top of the course, spoiling his chances of race victory. Matt Simmonds, following his excellent run in the World Championships, continued his good form, finishing in eighth, one place ahead of fellow Briton Bernard Kerr.

There was a 1-2 in the junior men’s downhill competition too, with Britons Michael Jones and Innes Graham finishing first and second ahead of Canadian Mark Wallace. Jones tops the world cup table overall, six points ahead of Frenchman Loris Vergier.

British Cycling Olympic Academy Programme rider Grant Ferguson took fifth place in the under 23 men’s cross country event, with teammate Grant Ferguson, who reached the semis of the eliminator on Thursday, finishing in 25th position. Ferguson finished his world cup campaign in 12th position overall, with the world cup title going to German Schulte-Luenzum.

Great Britain’s Olympic Academy Programme riders were also in action in the junior men’s cross country, with Michael Thompson, in 12th, the best placed Briton.

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