Hart and Atherton take wins in opening HSBC UK | National Downhill Series races

Hart and Atherton take wins in opening HSBC UK | National Downhill Series races

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Reigning world champions Rachel Atherton and Danny Hart kicked off their domestic seasons in style with victories in round one of the HSBC UK | National Downhill Series in Nant Gwrtheyrn, Wales.

Atherton continued her sparkling form of last season to win by ten seconds from second-placed Manon Carpenter, while Hart finished ahead of Gee Atherton by a little more than a second.

In the junior events there were wins for Joe Breeden and Megan James, but the day almost ended in disaster for one of the star attractions, as world champion Atherton came close to missing her ten-second starting window.

But in the end she was delighted to claim the win, especially with the nature of the course being a steep technical section before a flat pedalling stretch to take them to the finish line.

Rachel Atherton

"I’m not sure British races ever do go to plan for me really,” said the 29-year-old.

“But it was such good fun in the end, British races always are, there’s always an amazing atmosphere and we all just love racing.

“On a track like this that changes all the time, the weather was just crazy, everyone was telling me to make sure I check out the first section as it was totally ruined.

“So I went, then my mechanic came running over and shouted we’ve got seven minutes to your run, so I ran to the start and I had literally ten seconds to get to the start gate, so I just rode in and set off.

“So I’m stoked to win the first race of the season. I had a pretty good margin over Manon, ten seconds in the end, I think I gained that all on that last pedal bit, it was horrific, took it out of you totally.”

In the men’s race Hart was pushed all the way by Atherton but took it with a clean run, learning the mistakes made in his less-than-perfect seeding run.

Danny Hart

"I had a tough qualifying run, I crashed twice out there but still managed to scrap a good time together,” Hart admitted.

“So for my race run I just wanted a clean run. I was a bit worried about the top section of the course though.

“It’s a bit of the track that hasn’t fared too well over the last few days, there wasn’t much left.

“I managed to figure a new line out and it all went good. I’m happy to get this good start to the season. I’ve been training hard and this track is pretty physical with a lot of pedalling at the bottom, so yeah I’m happy with the win.
“A good weekend with the world championship colours on show, so all good."

In the junior men’s race Breedon took the win by just over a second, while James seems to be benefitting from a season of cycle cross as she clocked a time 5.867 seconds ahead of second place.

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2017 HSBC UK | National Downhill Series - R1