Back at The Bill! – The UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup Live from Fort William30 May 2019 | By billy1979
It’s all downhill from here, especially on the weekend, as Fort William, Scotland, will host the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.
It’s already the 17th edition of the Battle at the Bill, but the atmosphere will once again be electric as thousands of fans will swarm the mountainside of Ben Nevis, trying to find the best spot alongside the track. Just like the Scottish weather, the racing will once again prove as unpredictable as ever. Can Tahnée Seagrave (GBR) and Loic Bruni (FRA) hang on to their Maribor form and make it two wins in a row? What can Fort William veteran Greg Minnaar (RSA) do? Will Amaury Pierron (FRA), last year’s World Cup breakout rider, add another win to his resume? Can Rachel Atherton (GBR) strike back?
The second round of the Mercedes-Benz UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup live from Fort William on Sunday, June 2 at 13:30 CEST – only on Red Bull TV!
The high-speed descent in Fort William can be defined in two words: adrenaline and endurance. Especially the latter will prove critical on the 2.8km long track, which makes it one of the longest on the World Cup circuit. In order to challenge the athletes year after year, the track undergoes changes regularly and as such, both riders and spectators can look forward to new lines and new options. Who will prove that he or she is able to master the challenging track?
The World Cup kick-off in Maribor caught everyone by surprise as World Cup veteran and podium regular Greg Minnaar did not qualify for the final race. After losing his status as a protected rider due to his injuries last season, the 37-year old had to finish in the Top 60 in qualifying in order to advance to the finals. A crash on the wet, slippery track put the South African rider out of contention for finals in what should have been business as usual for the 3-time World Champion and 3-time World Cup Overall winner. In the end the crash saw him miss out on the final qualifying spot by 0.13 seconds. As a result, the veteran will travel to Fort Willian with a healthy dose of hunger. He’s already put down the fastest time on the Scottish track a historic seven times. Will he be able to jump back from his slip-up and claim another top step on the World Cup circuit?
Amaury Pierron and Loris Vergier (both FRA) also struggled on the new Maribor track and performed below expectations. Pierron finished in seventh place in Slovenia, while he won three World Cup races last season on his way to securing the 2018 Overall World Cup title. Vergier fell far behind after a crash, resulting in a 58th place finish. However, the 22-year-old Frenchman has already proven that he’s got what it takes to step onto the podium at Fort William, finishing second last year in Scotland and taking his first World Cup win in Vallnord, Andorra just a few weeks later. Meanwhile, fellow Frenchman Loic Bruni fared a lot better by winning in Maribor and opening the World Cup circuit in style! Which one of the Frenchies will come down Ben Nevis fastest?
The British contingency will want to use their home advantage to topple the French. Danny Hart finished second in Maribor and has a good track record at the Fort – with 4 podium finishes since his first Elite race in Fort William in 2012. Meanwhile Matt Walker rocketed down the Maribor track in the first round, finishing first in qualifying and following it up with a 5th place on race day. Further British top-riders looking to capitalize on their home-field advantage include Laurie Greenland and Scottish native Reece Wilson, who took his first ever World Cup Podium with a fourth place on Ben Nevis in 2018.
Other podium contenders include Aaron Gwin (USA) and Finn Iles (CAN). Just like Minnaar, Gwin could be considered as part of the old guard holding off the tide of young guns. With 20 World Cup wins on his resume, the 31-year-old is the world’s second most successful downhill racer – after Minnaar. Iles has quickly risen through the ranks and is one of the greatest talents in the sport. The only thing the 19-year-old is missing to be truly world class is consistency. Will he be able to find his flow in his second season as an Elite racer?
While the number of podium contenders in the men’s field is quite high, in the women’s field this number is limited to the Big Three, albeit one threat will be on the outside looking in. Myriam Nicole (FRA), Tahnée Seagrave and Rachel Atherton (both GBR) and a bit further behind Tracey Hannah (AUS) have been battling it out for the top three steps of the podium for years. Nicole will be forced to sit on the sidelines during Fort William after suffering a broken ankle in the off-season. Seagrave won the first round in Maribor and will be looking to continue her strong form, traveling to Fort William full of confidence. However, Atherton finished less than a second behind Seagrave in what was the first race on her brand new “Atherton Bikes” rig. Can Atherton strike back and take the win in Scotland?
Watch the second round of the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup free of charge, live or on demand, on redbull.tv. The live broadcast starts on Sunday, June 2 at 1:30pm CEST. Get the latest on everything bike related on the Red Bull Bike Channel at redbull.tv/bike.
Schedule: Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Fort William LIVE on Red Bull TV:
(all times CEST, replay available immediately following the races)
Fort William DHI Women: June 2 Live on Red Bull TV 1:30pm CEST
Fort William DHI Men: June 2 Live on Red Bull TV 2:45pm CEST