Rachel takes her 35th World Cup victory and first this season in Leogang
Rachel Atherton is back on top more than a year after her record-breaking 16 consecutive World Cup and World Championship victories.
Appropriately, the “Queen of British Downhill” also took the 100th World Cup win by a British rider across Downhill and Cross-Country Mountain Biking – 44 of those wins are contributed to Rachel (35) and her brother Gee (9), who finished in 18th place in the elite men.
Leogang has never been one of Rachel’s favorite tracks with the emphasis more on speed, but some course changes, including a tricky off-camber corner at the start of the track, added more technical skill to the challenge.
Rachel came into the race hungry for the win one week after her legendary chainless run at Fort William resulted in a third place, but she didn’t qualify well, falling hard in a rut that had been getting deeper all weekend. Her bike entangled a pole and it cost her a lot of time leaving her in 16th place.
When Rachel came on track for the Finals, there were still seven women at the top of the hill, and Australia’s Sian Ahern was in the hot seat.
Rachel came out fast!
Carrying a lot of speed through the technical off-camber section, Rachel was five seconds up on Ahern by split one and extended her lead to a massive 10 seconds by split three! The team held their breath as she had a momentary stall, but she recovered well and crossed the line almost 12 seconds clear.
Rachel’s stay in the hot seat wasn’t a restful time: just two runs later France’s Myriam Nicole was in touch from the start and moved to within 0.5 of a second by split three. Nicole gained on Rachel through the woods and went half a second clear of the leader by split four! All eyes were on the finish clock – would Myriam Nicole unseat Rachel?
In the final section, a ragged ride cost Nicole time – she lost more than a second and crossed the line 0.6 of a second behind Rachel.
Finally, after over a year I have won a World Cup again!! My 35th World Cup win and just as damn hard physically and mentally! It was a close race with Pompom!!
The final rider was Rachel’s neighbor and fellow Brit, Tahnee Seagrave. Tahnee dropped low on the off-camber turn, recovered well, but was 0.8 of a second down by the first split, and a further 1.6 seconds down by split two. Seagrave appeared to have third place sewn up when disaster struck: she was blown off course and outside the tapes over the jumps and disqualified.
With the victory secured, Rachel could finally celebrate.
Myriam Nicole leads the overall World Cup DH standings by 10 points – 610 to Rachel’s 600 – and all to play for.
Aghhhhhhh winning today at World Cup Leogang - what a race!! Wild! Such a good close race and buzzin' I didn’t crash again.