With a bit of a wild qualifier yesterday having riders caught off in a sloppy section of the woods, things are interesting going into finals. Considering that many of the top riders are not protected due to a gnarly race at Lourdes, France last round things are looking even more dicey for riders looking to establish their place in the top 20 to ease pressure.
Lots of crashes, Brook MacDonald came down dirty. Eliot Jackson, who went fastest at the first split in qualifying, fell back quite a bit on the first section this time. Loads of dabs in the woods. Troy Brosnan blasted through the woods with a foot down the whole time then continuously picked up speed the whole time and finally upset long time hot seat holder Laurie Greenland. Despite his diminutive size, don’t forget that Brosnan is a past winner at Fort William. He managed to pick up 2 full seconds on the motorway at the bottom, a section that typically favors tall riders.
Loic was up at the first split but dropped back 8 seconds by the next split. Unfortunately today wasn’t his day, followed by Jacob Dickson who also had a similar problem in the same area. Rider after rider came down laden with issues. Until Neko Mullaly came down, no one looked like they stood a chance against Troy. Neko was faster and rode cleaner in the woods, but couldn’t touch Brosnan on the motorway and missed the hot seat by a second.
Connor Fearon was as riveting as always on course with a blazing split up top, but would cruise down 2.3 seconds behind Troy. Mark Wallace had a tough run and would eventually fade back. Remi Thirion dusted Troy in the woods to finally be the first rider to take him out by just a hair with an electrifying run.
Danny Hart looked decent early on but would OTB on camera in the woods and throw it away. Despite wind and rain, Aaron Gwin was up 4+ seconds at the second split with an incredible performance in the woods.
As he appeared on camera a few seconds later, he bobbled and lost time, but still unseated Remi Thirion by almost a second. Gutierrez is a complete freak. He was down 5.5 seconds and managed to pull back almost all of it on the motorway.
Jack Moir threw down an insane run and knocked Gwin down with Vergier and Minnaar left on track. Vergier had a rough top split then would bobble big time in the woods and throw it away. Despite bad weather Greg Minnaar would take his 20th World Cup win by nearly 3 seconds at 35 years old. What an athlete. What a legend.
In the women’s, Rachel Atherton was finally toppled and succumbed to the dislocated shoulder on the brutal track with Tracey Hannah taking the win. According to Rachel, nothing is broken though…
In Junior Men’s, an increasingly exciting category, Matt Walker took a big win by 5 seconds over favorite Finn Iles and nearly 9 seconds over yesterday’s fastest qualifier, Sylvain Cougoureux.