Rachel Atherton Clinches Overall World Cup Title in Norway

Sep 17, 2012

 

GT Factory Racing take Fastest Team Overall

Rachel Atherton has taken the final World Cup round on a diverse and testing Norwegian track and has clinched the overall title, despite missing the opening race of the season.

Gee finished at the 4th place and has taken the third place overall.

Today’s race was the final round of a seven round series in which Rachel claimed a win in 5 of the 6 events she raced. It wasn't all plain sailing however, Rachel had to sit out the opening round in Pietermaritzburg with an injured shoulder and then Frenchwoman Emmeline Ragot chased her all the way into the final event.

This was the first time that Norway had hosted a World Cup round and the riders were tremendously excited by the course at the Hafjell Resort. It had a mixture of everything - fast flowy jumps, testing rock and root sections and a couple of short, physically demanding pedally sections.

Rachel took first blood with a great ride in Friday’s qualifying session to finish 6.9 seconds clear of second placed rider Manon Carpenter. Ragot made a mistake in one of the technical sections but still managed to qualify in third place.

Any top five result would have given Atherton the title but true to form she went all out to finish the season in style.

After some thrilling racing, Ragot was sitting in the hot seat. Manon Carpenter was next up but fell on her run, and then it was Rachel’s turn. At the first interval check Rach was right on the mark, just one tenth slower than Emmeline. The second sector included the first major rock garden and Rachel seemed to have that dialled as she took the advantage by 1.1seconds. Through the final third and tackling the final rock garden Rach found another 1.1 seconds her time of 4.01.545 a good 2.2 seconds clear of Ragot and over eight seconds ahead of third place rider Morgane Charre.

With a grand total of 1450 points Rachel claimed her second World Cup Championship and concreted her position at the top of Women’s Downhill Mountain Biking.

"The track was ridiculously rad and reminded me of home," commented a jubilant Rachel. "To win a world cup on such a cool track was an amazing feeling but to clinch the overall title at the same time was a dream come true. I'm still a little shocked after this World Cup season, a real battle, the way it should be!"

But there was more than one title at stake for the GT Factory Racing team in Norway. There was still the small matter of the Fastest Team Title which GT Factory Racing had picked up at Round Two and held right up until the Finals. It was down to the Men’s Event to decide the team’s fate with Marc Beaumont being the first rider up.

Looking strong up top Marc made a mistake as he hit the first technical section, he pushed hard to pull time back but it wasn't to be. 29th on the day and 13th in the overall, expect him back stronger and faster next season.

Chasing second place in the overall scores Gee Atherton put down a solid run to take over the hot seat from Kiwi Cam Cole. Greg Minaar edged Gee down by just one tenth of a second to momentarily take the Hafjell hotseat and maintain his second place in the overall. But MInnaar didn’t hold his lead for long as the very next rider, George Brannigan, put in a great time to claim the hotseat and his first ever World Cup podium. In a nail-biting climax to the World Cup season final rider Stevie Smith from Canada put in a stormer to claim his first ever World Cup win and push Gee down to fourth spot. Gee held onto third in the overall which helped push the GT team to the top step in the overall team rankings, capping off a great season and an amazing maiden year for GT Factory Racing.

Team Director Dan Brown said “We’re stoked. So overjoyed for Rachel especially after a tense start to the season. What a fantastic first year for GT Factory Racing, we’ve put together a brilliant team with the most supportive set of sponsors and it’s paid off for us. Now we’re off to celebrate.”

See more about Rachel's awesome trail to the UCI World Cup Championship here.

Photo Credit: Sven Martin