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Sabrina Jonnier (Maxxis / Rocky Mountain) on her way to a World Cup win in Fort William.
Frenchwoman leads World Cup standings after victory
After a two-week break, World Cup downhill racing resumed in Fort William, Scotland, the site of the 2007 World Championships and an annual stop for the World Cup circuit. Maxxis-Rocky Mountain's Sabrina Jonnier owned the World Cup circuit in 2009, winning six events and the World Cup overall title. This weekend, she earned her first World Cup win of 2010.
With the United Kingdom's Rachel Atherton (Commencal) back in 2010 from a serious injury, this season has provided tighter competition for Jonnier. After a second place to Atherton at the Maribor round, Jonnier was looking to get back on top of the podium in Fort William.
In qualifying, it was Atherton first, then Jonnier two seconds back in second and France's Florian Pugin in third place. It was clear that the race would be between Jonnier and Atherton in the finals.
Fort William is a rider favorite, as it is one of the longest courses on the circuit at almost five minutes, and it is extremely technically challenging. In addition, Fort William attracts thousands of rabid fans that line the course cheering riders with a deafening roar.
In the finals, one rider after the other took the hot seat in tight succession, but it was the UK's Tracy Moseley (Trek World Racing), the 2008 Fort William champion, who set the first time under 5:20 with a 5:16:46. France's Pugin was down next and squeaked out a tiny two hundredths of a second faster time than Moseley to take the lead.
With two riders to go, it was Jonnier blowing the race apart with a five-second faster time than Pugin, with most of that advantage gained on the pedaling intensive lower section of the course. Atherton was last to go and only trailed Jonnier at the midway point by half a second, but by the end of the race, she had lost over two seconds. With the win, Jonnier assumed the lead in the World Cup series by a scant 15 points.
"It was a long run," said Jonnier. "I hit my pedal on the top section and lost all my speed, but I knew that I could make up the difference at the bottom, so I gave it everything there. All the people cheering were amazing, and it pushed me to go harder."