Third place for Charlie Hatton nets two on the podium for Trek Factory Racing
It was the 5th edition of the Red Bull Hardline, again hosted in the hills around Dinas Mawddwy, north Wales, and the 5th time proved to be the charm for Gee Atherton who qualified first on Saturday, and then capped that with the victory on Sunday.
“Red Bull Hardline is so intense, it’s a testament to how hard it is that it has taken me five years to win it,” exclaimed Gee. “Every year I go back wanting it more and more and pushing harder and harder for it. Now I’ve done it once, I want to do it again next year!”
The Red Bull Hardline is considered one of the toughest downhill mountain bike races in the world. The intense course was designed by Dan Atherton (thanks bro!) and combined tricky technical downhill features with huge freeride-style jumps. Not for the faint-hearted.
When Friday’s practice was rained out, and Saturday dawned with on-off showers and plenty of mist, even with frantic running repairs the course was slippery and had many riders struggling with the cold weather.
“There is no way to ride this course if you aren’t 100% on top form and 100% committed to the race, so I chose to make myself useful to the dig crew and the other riders!” said Dan Atherton.
Twenty-one riders raced qualifications with just 10 finals places up for grabs, and the pressure was on. There were plenty of crashes on the slick course, but Gee Atherton was on his game and qualified first. Charlie Hatton qualified sixth and Kade Edwards, fresh off his World Championship win, qualified in ninth, putting the three Trek Factory Racing teammates into Sunday’s finals.
“I took it safe because of the weather, I knew it would be easy to crash! I went off track just before the road gap and came unclipped but managed to just get clipped back in before the take-off. It was sketchy!” said Charlie Hatton about Saturday’s run.
That was so hard – particularly on the technical sections, really sticky and so physical.
For the finals on Sunday, Kade Edwards was the second rider to start, but he crashed out at one of the tricky corners after the road gap. He continued but would finish in 10th place.
Sixth place qualifier Charlie Hatton unleashed his best run in the finals and roared into the hotseat seven seconds clear of the field – in the end, it would be enough for third place and his first Hardline podium.
Bernard Kerr, second last to start, knocked Charlie out of the hotseat with just Gee left to race.
Gee was fastest in qualifications but could he do it again?
Putting all of his Hardline demons behind him, Gee flew across the line and stopped the clock at 3.06.72 – five seconds clear of the field!
Yes, he could. And did.