New Zealand downhiller Cameron Cole (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) was shocked to finish second at the weekend’s MTB World Cup round in Fort William, Scotland. Cole’s time in the finals placed him just five tenths behind eventual winner Gee Atherton, giving the 22-year-old his first elite podium with his second placing.
"I don't know what to think or say – it has just been unreal," said Cole. "I didn't really expect my first podium to be a second place – I thought maybe I would pull a fourth or a fifth, but to be second and to nearly win has been pretty amazing."
The former junior world champion was surprised to qualify third in Scotland, but didn’t think too much about what that could mean for the finals. He benefited greatly from the course’s changes, which made it faster for 2010, having crashed in the excluded technical sections in 2008 and 2009.
"I just rode my own race all weekend. On the morning of the race I was very nervous – especially when I was in the gate at the start,” he said. “But I just rode my own race and fixed up the bits of the track that I needed to. I managed to save some time on the dry and slippery corners and then smashed the pedalling at the bottom part of the course.
"My final run didn't feel amazing – it just felt like another run – that is maybe a good thing," he said. "I thought the last two guys to come down might beat me and relegate me back to third or fourth, but it never happened."
One of those final two riders was World Cup leader Greg Minnaar. The South African rider couldn’t beat Cole’s time however and instead finished in third place.
"Justin Leov was with me and he said, 'dude, you're second', and he was nearly crying and I was nearly crying – it was amazing," he said. "Gee Atherton was amping and the crowd was going off, everyone came over to shake my hand – it was a pretty wild atmosphere."
The strong result doesn’t change Cole’s aim of finishing inside the top 10 at each World Cup, despite now sitting third overall in the series. He hopes to challenge the likes of Minnaar and Atherton for next year’s title.