Gee Atherton takes silver at Mountain Bike World Championships

Sep 3, 2012


British rider Gee Atherton came agonisingly close to a second World title today as he went head to head with South African Greg Minnaar on the slick hillside of Leogang, Austria.

Conditions changed radically throughout the weekend making race preparation difficult. Thursday was bone dry but Friday brought torrential rain which left the course water-logged until Sunday morning. Come the afternoon and the men's finals the conditions had dried out to the extent that a number of riders opted to ride dry tyres. The race would be a test of who could best adapt to the changing conditions.

Mick Hannah was the first serious contender for podium. His 3:23.9 was fast but was quickly bettered by Canadian Stevie Smith who went nine tenths faster than the Australian. Smith's time stood all the way till the final three when Gee Atherton set the track on fire. The Brit flew from the start house and took the first turn like he was on rails. Gee was fastest at split one and stayed on it as he attacked the lower woods, at split two he pushed his advantage further and held strong till the finish. His time of 3:22.37 was enough to topple Smith off the top with two to go. South African Greg Minnaar immediately looked dangerous as he went through split one five tenths quicker than Gee, then held the gap all the way to the finish edging Gee from the lead. Number one seed Aaron Gwin was the last to go but he had to retire due to a mechanical leaving Minaar the 2012 World Champion.

Gee's team mate Marc Beaumont rode a strong race but a stall in the lower woods cost him a top ten spot. Marc had to settle for 14th place, while Rachel Atherton struggled to get into the groove after having to miss Saturday's training session due to a back injury finishing a disappointing 5th.

The team now takes a weekend off before heading to Norway for the World Cup finals where they are hoping to wrap up the women's overall and second spot in the mens series.

Results: Men's Downhill Elite

Rank  No. First Last  Finish Gap
1 3 Greg MINNAAR 03:21.8  
2 4 Gee ATHERTON 03:22.4 0.581
3 10 Steve SMITH 03:23.0 1.214
4 11 Michael HANNAH 03:23.9 2.14
5 6 Samuel HILL 03:25.2 3.406
6 7 Damien SPAGNOLO 03:25.6 3.859
7 24 Florent PAYET 03:26.0 4.227
8 5 Brook MACDONALD 03:26.7 4.861
9 22 Markus PEKOLL 03:27.6 5.774
10 16 Marcelo GUTIERREZ VILLEGAS 03:27.9 6.064
11 14 Samuel BLENKINSOP 03:28.2 6.375
12 44 Sam DALE 03:28.3 6.504
13 51 Bryn ATKINSON 03:28.6 6.794
14 9 Marc BEAUMONT 03:28.9 7.101

Results: Women's Downhill Elite

Rank  No. First Last  Finish Gap
1 8 Morgane CHARRE 03:50.7  
2 1 Emmeline RAGOT 03:51.9 1.199
3 4 Manon CARPENTER 03:52.1 1.49
4 5 Floriane PUGIN 03:52.3 1.617
5 2 Rachel ATHERTON 03:56.5 5.894


Photo Credits: Sven Martin