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Gee Atherton Fort William 2016 UCI Downhill ChampionshipsFort William in Scotland played host to the third stage of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup and the BUFF® 4X Pro Tour on 4 – 5 June 2016. The only UK leg on the MTB Downhill World Cup circuit; the iconic Nevis Range has entrained the UCI event since 2002, bringing over a quarter of a million mountain bike fans to the Scottish Highlands.

High up on the Scottish sporting calendar; the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup attracts the world’s fastest downhill MTB riders and 2016 was no exception. Over 200 elite MTB Downhill athletes competed, racing down the slopes of Aonach Mor; the 9th highest mountain in the UK.
With new additions added to the downhill course; technical features, rock slabs, rock gardens, gnarly woods section and huge jumps; the 2.8km mountain bike track was every bit as challenging as it looked.
Fierce and unforgiving, the new section through the woods was very technical and tricky from the drop in. Not helped by the weather; excellent bike control and skills were needed to cope with the brutally rutted paths. And as the temperatures soared, the hot, dry conditions made the track even faster, dustier and slightly skiddy, which resulted in a lot of blow outs.
Whilst the terrain proved tough and demanding for the athletes; for the huge crowd of spectators, who lined the course from top to bottom, it was jaw dropping exhilaration. Ascending 300ft, 2150ft above sea level; fans were getting the gondola to the top of the course and walking down the track, stopping at different obstacles to watch the races.
And they weren’t disappointed!
The global mountain biking community celebrated as three-time World Mountain Bike Champion, Great Britain’s, Rachel Atherton claimed her hat trick, when she took her third Fort William title. Victory at Fort William drew Rachel level with Anne-Caroline Chausson’s record of 9 consecutive World Cup wins. The following week and Rachel surpassed Chausson as she won her 30th World Cup and 10th in a row in Leogang, setting a new benchmark and landing her a place in the MTB hall of fame. Tracy Hannah (AUS) and Manon Carpenter (UK) came in in 2nd and 3rd places respectively at Fort William.
Battling it out in the Men’s category, UK riders Danny Hart, Gee Atherton and Greg Williamson faced tough competition from international riders. Despite putting in good runs, the guys were no match for South African Greg Minnaar, who took his 6th Fort William win in a time of 4m 35.601s. Joining him on the podium were Aaron Gwin (USA) and Danny Hart (GBR).
41 year-old MTB downhill rider, Steve, Peaty’, Peat from Sheffield said goodbye to the Scottish crowds as he is set to retire from World Cup racing at the end of this current season. With a career spanning 20 years, earning him 17 World Cup wins, 52 World Cup podiums and one World Championship, Peaty is regarded as a true legend of the sport.
For the ExPix team it was a chance to experience one of the greatest events on the UCI World Cup Downhill calendar.
Reflecting on the weekend they summed it up:
Weather was amazing!
Midges not as bad as expected
Good access to the event - Busses in and out of the event area and cycle path available to bike in from Fort William, with an area to lock your bikes.
Plenty of information available
Loads of food on site
Massive trade and bike area - more like a F1 pit lane

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