Gee Atherton finishes in a season-best second and podiums for the Juniors win Trek Factory Racing 'Team of the Day' award
The UCI World Cup Round 7, the final race of the season, was hosted in La Bresse, France and turned into a day for the archives for the Trek Factory Racing DH team: a spectacular win for Rachel Atherton, a nail-biting second place for her brother Gee, and third-placed podiums for Juniors Kade Edwards and Mille Johnset. It all added up to a successive ‘Team of the Day’ award, which also secured second place in the overall team classification.
The racing in La Bresse was brutal. The course, although shortest on the circuit this year, was the first rainy finals of the season and was absolutely ruthless. However, the Trek Factory Racing team’s training in the harsh Welsh environment paid off – they conquered the slick course to end the season on a high.
Kade Edwards, who qualified first, took another third place and finished his final season racing as a Junior in third overall. Mille Johnset crashed in qualifying but rebounded in the finals to finish in third as well.
With two podiums tallied, it was time for the Women Elite.
Rachel, who had qualified second to long-time rival and friend Tahnee Seagrave, knew that the finals race would require something extra special. In “one of the hardest races” of her career, through fog, rain, and standing water, Rachel laid down a dominant run.
“I tried to think strategically – maybe I should have played safe and focused on the overall – I only needed to come 4th or maybe 5th today to clinch the title, but as soon as I’m in the start-gate I just want to race! Tahnee had such an epic run in qualies that I knew I’d have to go full blast!” said Rachel.
Rachel rode aggressively from the start, extending her lead every split to cross the line 11.66 seconds clear of the field. Only Seagrave remained to unseat her.
Although Tahnee fought valiantly, when she crossed the line she was 0.6-seconds behind, giving Rachel claim to her 37th World Cup win. It was her third victory this season and enough for her sixth World Cup Overall title – more than any other female rider in the history of the sport.
With Gee Atherton still to race, could it be a fairytale ending to the season for the team? Gee had qualified first of the Elite Men, but the new rules meant that he started well down in the field. When he came on the track, friend and Atherton Academy graduate, the Enduro star Martin Maes, was in the hotseat after an absolutely spectacular run.
Gee’s time was in the green by split one. Although he dabbed a foot, he still managed to extend by split two to 1.77 seconds clear! He lost a little time in bottom section, slip-sliding his way through to the finish 1.39-seconds back on Maes. It was good enough for second, but there were many competitors yet to race.
It was a pattern that would be repeated all afternoon: The team held their breath as rider after rider, up by the first splits, failed to touch the top two times by the finish.
In the end, Maes held on for the win while Gee finished a season-high second place and into the top 10 of the overall rankings in ninth.
I am so stoked to finish the World Cup season on full charge! Massive congrats to my brother Martin Maes for that win.
- Gee Atherton