Rachel Atherton, Kade Edwards, and Atherton Academy’s Luke Williamson claim victories in Fort William
The Fort William Round of the UK Nationals Series is always highly subscribed with a packed field of World Cup racers looking to get some early lines dialed for the big show in two weeks’ time. This year was no different. However, for the Trek Factory Racing team, there was the added pressure of Gee and Rachel Atherton returning to the scene of last year’s massive injuries.
For Rachel, the introduction of a new rock garden that replaced the bog section where she crashed last year must have helped a little with the psychological barrier, but the relentless rocks took a toll on her arms, causing her to pull up in her seeding run. She was extremely cautious in the last section and seeded fourth.
When the women’s finals race was on track, the wind had picked up considerably. Adjustments to Rachel’s suspension paid dividends as she roared down the brutal track to take the win by a convincing six seconds.
This place is so savage! I’m buzzing to take the win; I feel like my old self again! Massive thanks to the team for getting me back on track.
In the Junior seeding, Kade Edwards raced against Thibault Daprela, who won the opening World Cup ahead of Kade in Croatia. It was enough to fire up Kade, who took first in both the seeding and finals!
Kade Edwards continues to mature as a racer, keeping it clean and safe during the runs. He had one moment near the middle of the track, but he held it, maintained his composure, and was stoked to take the win:
“Hella’ weekend at Fort Bill, I was happy with both my runs, had a few mistakes, but [overall] was good.”
In the Men’s race, Charlie Hatton had qualified well, placing sixth. He was second at the final split, but small mistakes in the bottom section put him back in the ranks. In similar style, his race run was going well until the new woods section.
Afterward, Charlie explained: “It looked like it was drying out, so I tried to push hard and washed out and went over the bars. I felt fast on the bike, and I’m looking forward to the World Cup in a couple of weeks.”
Gee Atherton’s injury was definitely on his mind, so he was delighted to have the weekend under his belt. A day of testing is planned Monday and should put any lingering doubts firmly in their place.
That was a hard one to get through; I definitely laid some demons to rest.
Gee finished in 10th place and Charlie in 22nd.
And last but not least, Atherton Academy’s Luke continues his winning streak with another Youth victory here at Fort William!
Atherton Diaries: Episode 23
Watch the behind-the-scenes pre-race experiences, including a brush with the Italian police, as well as all the race excitement (and worries) as the Trek Factory Racing DH team conquers Fort William.