By Sue George in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Québec, Canada
Dan Atherton (Animal Commencal) was back in action racing downhill on Saturday at the UCI mountain bike World Cup in Mont-Sainte-Anne in Québec, Canada, for the first time after breaking his right collarbone during training just before the World Championships in Val di Sole, Italy, in mid-June.
"My run was pretty tough. Mont-Sainte-Anne is always the hardest track on the circuit anyway, and coming back from a broken collarbone is always tough, but I just tried to survive, take my line smoothly and not pull any hero manoeuvres," said Atherton, whose sister Rachel, also a World Champion, won the elite women's downhill held just before the men's race. "I was trying to get down in one piece."
Atherton did just that and finished a respectable 23rd place in the race won by Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate). Sam Hill (Monster Energy) finished second followed by Atherton's brother and current World Champion, Gee.
"It was scary. It would have been good if my shoulder was hurting me because it would have reminded me to slow down, but it didn't hurt, and I had to keep telling myself to slow down because I'm not yet up to speed. I knew that if something had gone wrong, it was going to go wrong spectacularly."
After his crash in Italy, Atherton returned to England for surgery. He underwent a procedure using a laser to knit the broken bone back together and did not have any hardware installed.
"I'm not hurt; I'm happy," said Atherton, smiling after his final run.