More than 11,000 fans bring the noise at the legendary Fort William World Cup, as Greg Minnaar and Tracey Hannah are crowned World Cup winners in the Scottish Highlands
The UCI Fort William Mountain Bike World Cup came to a dramatic end today (4 June) when the most successful downhill rider of all time charged to victory in the Scottish Highlands.
In one of the most exciting finishes to a World Cup event at the iconic Nevis Range, South Africa’s Greg Minnaar made history in the elite men’s downhill final following a nail-biting run which saw the Santa Cruz Syndicate athlete clinch his seventh Fort William World Cup title to the delight of thousands of screaming mountain bike fans.
Around 11,000 fans raised the roof as Minnaar cemented his legendary status on the men’s circuit and a new Fort William World Cup star was born in the elite female downhill final.
Australia’s Tracey Hannah capitalised on the absence of reigning World Champion Rachel Atherton as she outpaced her competition to win her first Fort William World Cup title.
The 28-year-old athlete, who rides with Polygon UR, was in exceptional form beating Myriam Nicole from France in second and Emilie Siegenthaler from Switzerland in third. Following a blistering start she skilfully manoeuvred heavy mud in the woods before storming down the home straight into the finishing bowl where a rapturous Fort William crowd cheered her to victory.
Hannah said: “I’m overwhelmed with the win because it was a really tough weekend. It was a really hard track and pretty different to what I am used to at home which is dry, dusty and pretty loose. I ride quite fast tracks and this one was very different because of the rain.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to win my first Fort William title as I never expected that a British girl would not win here. The venue and the fans are amazing. They are always so dedicated, loyal and loud. It’s a really good boost for the rest of the season.”
The day however very much belonged to Minnaar, who continued his domination on the Fort William trail by beating Jack Moir from Australia in second and the Aaron Gwin from the US in third.
As the last rider out of the starting block he used all of his experience and technical ability to get through a tricky wood section before hurling himself down to the finish line where he received a true hero’s welcome.
He said: “I’m very happy with today. This is a tough race and I knew the guys would lay down a marker. The rain was coming down as I started to go and I had to sit down and push real hard to make sure I had a bit of a buffer. This has been one of my toughest races so far.
“Fort William is a great place. This race has been quite special. We’ve just developed a new bike and we’re the first team to win on the new style of bike. There are just so many things that went right today. I’ve got 18 of my good mates from South Africa here supporting me and I got a great reception from them at the end.”
It was a disappointing day all round for the British riders. In an unexpected twist to the day’s racing, World Champion and race favourite in the women’s downhill Rachel Atherton’s hopes of a 15th consecutive World Cup title win were cut short after a dislocated shoulder in practice forced her to pull out of the women’s final.
Men’s downhill World Champion Danny Hart could only settle for a 59th placed finish following a crash, while local rider Greg Williamson from Inverness came in 78th position.
The event, which is supported by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate, and Highland Council, is the second stage on the UCI World Cup Downhill calendar.
For more information, visit www.fortwilliamworldcup.co.uk where you can also find details about the event.