September 11/05 5:55 am - MTB World Cup DH Final Report
Posted by Editoress on 09/11/05
MTB World Cup DH Final Fort William, Scotland
Britannia ruled on Sunday at the Downhill World Cup Final in Fort William, Scotland, with Steve Peat (Orange) and Tracy Moseley (Kona-Les Gets) delivering a pair of wins to the partisan crowd of over 10,000.
While the overall World Cup titles had already been won by Greg Minnaar (G-Cross Honda) and Sabrina Jonnier (Intense), and the top-3 overall standings were pretty much set, riders still had a lot of desire to win in front of the fanatical downhill fans that Fort William attracts.
The 2.46 kilometre course runs in an almost straight line down the side of one of the mountains that makes up the Ben Nevis range. With an average gradient of 11%, and the steepest pitches over 20%, the rough and rocky course requires speed and endurance.
Both Peat and Moseley set the fastest times in the morning seeding runs, and would start last. In the women's race, Angelika Hohenwarter (Austria) set the early fast time of 5:46.10, which stood up for 10 riders before Emma Guy (Great Britain) knocked a slim two-hundredths of a second off. After that, the lead was changing almost every rider. Kathy Pruitt (Luna), fifth from last, put in a strong time at 5:02.50, but two riders later the new Junior world champion, Rachel Atherton (Great Britain), came through over a second and a half faster. Jonnier couldn't beat Atherton's time, so it was down to Moseley, who became the only woman to crack the five minute barrier, with a time of 4:59.97, despite a crash.
"I had a good semi run; I tried to be smooth, pick good lines and not go too hard at the top because it is such a long course." explained Moseley. "It started to rain just as I was beginning my final, and I slid out on the rocks at the top, so I backed off a bit. I guess that made it pretty close, but it was enough to win."
Steve Peat admitted that he was feeling some pressure going into the race, a race that he has not won before, despite being the usual favourite. "There's always pressure, but here it is definitely higher. The crowd wanted me to win - I have never heard a louder crowd. I was pretty nervous about the rain; I had a power nap between the semi and the final, and when I woke up there was a wet mist."
Minnaar's countryman Andrew Neethling, the seventh rider off, set the early fast time, which would hold up for nearly half the field before Filip Polc (Slovakia) finally knocked 13-hundredths off. Brit Neil Donoghue was the next to move into the hot seat after taking over two seconds off Polc's time, and his time stood up through a number of favourites, including world champion Fabien Barel (Kona Les Gets), who crashed, and Australian Mick Hannah. Finally, as the top-10 qualifiers started coming down the course, the time began to drop rapidly.
Chris Kovarik (Australia) took eight seconds off, and then Minnaar knocked another two seconds off that time. As the final six riders came down, Minnaar's time continued to hold up. Nathan Rennie (Australia) had a faster intermediate split, but lost time in the lower section to finish over a second back.
Finally, it was Peat's turn, and he put in the fastest split of the day, nearly half a second ahead of Minnaar. In the lower half he was even faster, finishing over two seconds in front of Minnaar. As he approached the line, and the crowd could see that he would win, a deafening roar went up, and Peat was engulfed by a mob of well wishers after sliding to a halt.
"My run was all good, really smooth, no problems at all. It was pretty huge to win, probably one of the sweetest wins of my career."