Déjà vu as flying Frenchman takes win at wet and wild Fort

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Fort William once again hosted another enthralling UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup over the weekend as the world’s best riders descended on the wet and wild slopes of Aonach Mor.

As the weekend’s incessant rain made way for spells of sunshine on Sunday afternoon, there was a nail-biting finish to the men’s elite race with the lead changing hands several times as the final 20 riders plummeted down the Nevis Range track.

It was Frenchman Amaury Pierron, 23, the second last rider down the hill, who held his nerve to retain his Fort William crown with a blistering time of 4:28.587, edging out Australian Troy Brosnan and fellow countryman Loris Vergier by just over 3.5 seconds.

Pierron battles the wet and wild conditions at Nevis Range, which got the better of a number of elite riders. NO F23 UCI WC 05. Photograph: Kim Ferguson, Kimages.

Amaury Pierron said: ‘It was beautiful to win here again. The crowd were insane. Fort William is one of the best tracks on the circuit and I want to thank everyone who cheered us on this weekend. To win for a second time at this track where the margins are so fine is something I will never forget.’

In the women’s final, Rachel Atherton recorded an incredible time of 5:15.560 to claim the 2019 title by two seconds, her fourth at Fort William World Cup events and her first on the new Atherton bike.

Rachel Atherton, centre, celebrates another win at Fort William. Photograph: Phunkt.

Rachel Atherton said: ‘It’s been a real team effort over the weekend. This track pushes you right to the edge. Fort William is hard enough without the wind and rain battering you. To have claimed a first win on the Atherton bike here at Fort William is really special. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet.’

As the Fort William stage event celebrates its 18th birthday, spectators flocked to the finish line to witness their favourite riders fly down a turbulent track on the famous Aonach Mòr mountain.

Inverness-shire rider Greg Williamson finished in 12th position. Photograph: Kim Ferguson, Kimages.

With more than a fifth of the elite field made up of British riders, the home fans among the 22,000 strong crowd had plenty to cheer with strong performances from Danny Hart and Matt Walker, who finished fifth and seventh in the Men’s Elite respectively, whilst Luke Mumford took second in the Men’s Junior event.

Nevis Range team rider Mikayla Parton, competing in her first Fort William World Cup, was unlucky not to qualify for the women’s final, agonisingly missing out on qualification by 0.7 seconds to finish in 16th place.

In the women’s 4x competition, Lochaber rider Louise Ferguson overcame a knee injury to clinch fourth place in the final to secure a podium finish.

Once again, the Fort William fans created a phenomenal atmosphere sending their noise and passion echoing through the mountains across the weekend.

Reflecting on the weekend, Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: ‘Fort William once again provided the perfect stage for an epic weekend of mountain bike action and it was fantastic to see the crowds out in force supporting the event. The Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup is hugely important for the Highlands and for Scotland, contributing more than £40million to the economy to date.’

PIC:

Amaury Pierron stormed to victory at the UK leg of the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup at Fort William. Photograph: Phunkt.

Rachel Atherton, centre, celebrates yet another win at Fort William. Photograph: Phunkt.

Pierron battles the wet and wild conditions at Nevis Range, which got the better of a number of elite riders. Photograph: Kim Ferguson, Kimages.

Inverness-shire rider Greg Williamson finished in 12th position. Photograph: Kim Ferguson, Kimages.