Great Britain’s Rachel Atherton sewed up the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Downhill title, finishing in second place in the final round in Leogang, Austria.
Atherton, riding for GT Factory Racing was the last woman to tackle the technical, pedally course thanks to a dominant performance in seeding and was up on the first split, looking to cap off the world cup season in style with a win. Yet Atherton was slower in the middle section than the fastest time set by Frenchwoman Emmeline Ragot and completed the course 0.502 seconds shy of Ragot’s winning time of 3:52.866.
"I'm absolutely over the moon. All year, both titles were getting closer and closer. I thought this week I would hurt myself."
Great Britain’s Manon Carpenter was third, 4.8 seconds back on her compratriot while junior women’s world champion Tahnee Seagrave finished 7th, also clinching the world cup championship in her age category.
Atherton’s result today completes what has been the rider’s best ever season, winning the world championships, world cup and national championships in the same year.
Following her run Atherton said:
"I'm absolutely over the moon. All year, both titles were getting closer and closer. I thought this week I would hurt myself. I've had bad luck at Leogang every year.
"I don't think I played it safe today. I wanted to win this for sure. A World Cup win is a World Cup win. A little bit of me comes out of this thinking that it's good to have a different winner in the last World Cup. I'll have to find that extra half-second this winter, and it will keep me motivated in training."
Rachel’s brorther Gee Atherton wasn't so lucky, finishing fourth as his rival Canadian Stevie Smith produced a perfect run to finish first and snatch the title from the Briton. The dramatic conclusion came after fellow Briton Josh Bryceland put together a stellar run to take the hotseat for much of the competition, only unseated as the top contenders hit the mountain, eventually placing fifth just behind Atherton.
It was disappointment for British riders in the junior men's contest too, as Michael Jones finished third, 1.2 seconds behind Noel Neiderberger but crucially just one tenth of a second behind Frenchman Loris Vergier who snatched the world cup series win from Jone by the slenderest of margins.
1 Emmeline Ragot (Fra) Lapierre Gravity Republic 0:03:52.866
2 Rachel Atherton (GBr) GT Factory Racing 0:00:00.502
3 Manon Carpenter (GBr) Madison Saracen Downhill Team 0:00:04.817
4 Jill Kintner (USA) Team Norco International 0:00:07.562
5 Myriam Nicole (Fra) Commencal / Riding Addiction 0:00:07.815
6 Morgane Charre (Fra) MS Mondraker Team 0:00:10.592
7 Tahnee Seagrave° (GBr) FMD Racing / Intense Cycles 0:00:10.609
8 Tracey Hannah (Aus) Hutchinson UR 0:00:13.078
9 Emilie Siegenthaler (Swi) Gstaad-Scott 0:00:13.178
10 Micayla Gatto (Can) 0:00:15.348
1 Steve Smith (Can) Devinci Global Racing 0:03:23.959
2 Loic Bruni (Fra) Lapierre Gravity Republic 0:00:01.311
3 Michael Hannah (Aus) Hutchinson UR 0:00:01.934
4 Gee Atherton (GBr) GT Factory Racing 0:00:02.858
5 Josh Bryceland (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate 0:00:03.402
6 Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas (Col) Giant Factory Off-Road Team 0:00:04.267
7 Samuel Blenkinsop (NZl) Lapierre Gravity Republic 0:00:04.320
8 Troy Brosnan (Aus) Specialized Racing DH 0:00:05.577
9 Steve Peat (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate 0:00:06.039
10 Connor Fearon (Aus) Kona 0:00:06.620
1 Noel Niederberger (Swi) Gstaad-Scott 0:03:34.480
2 Loris Vergier (Fra) Lapierre Gravity Republic 0:00:01.153
3 Michael Jones (GBr) FMD Racing / Intense Cycles 0:00:01.283
4 Jure Zabjek (Slo) Unior Tools Team 0:00:03.782
5 Innes Graham (GBr) MS Mondraker Team 0:00:06.083
6 Luca Shaw (USA) Specialized Racing DH 0:00:06.212
7 Daniel Algarra Navarro (Spa) Spain 0:00:06.383
8 Mark Wallace (Can) Devinci Global Racing 0:00:06.470
9 Mckay Vezina (Can) Canada 0:00:07.598
10 Martin Lebl (Cze) Czech Republic 0:00:07.729
Final World Cup Standings
1 ATHERTON Rachel GBR GT FACTORY RACING 1295
2 RAGOT Emmeline FRA LAPIERRE GRAVITY REPUBLIC 1165
3 CARPENTER Manon GBR MADISON SARACEN DOWNHILL TEAM 1045
4 NICOLE Myriam FRA COMMENCAL / RIDING ADDICTION 807
5 CHARRE Morgane FRA MS MONDRAKER TEAM 747
6 PUGIN Floriane FRA GSTAAD-SCOTT 580
7 SIEGENTHALER Emilie SUI GSTAAD-SCOTT 531
8 KINTNER Jill USA TEAM NORCO INTERNATIONAL 396
9 SEAGRAVE Tahnee (1st Junior) GBR FMD RACING / INTENSE CYCLES 383
1 SMITH Steve CAN DEVINCI GLOBAL RACING 1199
2 ATHERTON Gee GBR GT FACTORY RACING 1121
3 MINNAAR Greg RSA SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE 673
4 BRUNI Loic FRA LAPIERRE GRAVITY REPUBLIC 671
5 BLENKINSOP Samuel NZL LAPIERRE GRAVITY REPUBLIC 654
6 HANNAH Michael AUS HUTCHINSON UR 638
7 BROSNAN Troy AUS SPECIALIZED RACING DH 601
8 HILL Samuel AUS CHAIN REACTION CYCLES.COM / NUKEPROOF 590
9 HART Danny GBR GIANT FACTORY OFF-ROAD TEAM 584
10 THIRION Rémi FRA COMMENCAL / RIDING ADDICTION 577
1 VERGIER Loris FRA LAPIERRE GRAVITY REPUBLIC 210
2 JONES Michael GBR FMD RACING / INTENSE CYCLES 206
3 NIEDERBERGER Noel SUI GSTAAD-SCOTT 185
4 LUCAS Dean AUS AUSTRALIA 148
5 GRAHAM Innes GBR MS MONDRAKER TEAM 107
6 SHAW Luca USA SPECIALIZED RACING DH 98
7 WALLACE Mark CAN DEVINCI GLOBAL RACING 96
8 VERNASSA Gianluca ITA DEVINCI GLOBAL RACING 86
9 ALGARRA NAVARRO Daniel ESP SPAIN 64
10 ATWILL Phil GBR MADISON SARACEN DOWNHILL TEAM 60