Atherton takes second win of season

Briton narrows Minnaar's World Cup lead

The race for the World Cup title in the men's downhill became a two-horse race on Saturday, at round four in Champéry, Switzerland. Gee Atherton (Commencal) took his second win of the season to pull to within 13 points of Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate), who finished second.

The rain, which had turned the steep 1500 metre course into a slippery mud slide during qualifying, finally backed off for race day, but the damage had been done and, in some ways, the drying conditions made things worse. As the thick mud began to dry, it clung to bikes and turned to the consistency of peanut butter, doubling the weight of bikes and slowing forward momentum to a crawl.

"It was really tough," said Atherton. "You know, some races you really enjoy, and others it's a battle the whole time. This I was just fighting the whole way, the run was hard work; it was like a battle from top to bottom. It was a matter of just finding that line, hanging it out and having it pinned, and not pushing too hard and crashing. I guess I was right on that line and right on the limit the whole time. I was half crashing all the way down the hill, just holding on, and luckily I got it dialed."

Minnaar had similar comments: "It was like Scalelectrix [model electric cars], it was one big rut the whole way down, so you just had to balance well and ride the rut as best you could."

Only six riders occupied the Hot Seat during the race, starting with the first rider on the course, Ben Cathro, who held the lead for nearly a third of the field before being unseated by Ruaridh Cunningham (Chain Reaction/Intense). Cunningham knocked an impressive 16-plus seconds off of Cathro's time, and was in the Hot Seat for 20 riders before his teammate Chris Kovarik bumped him by mere four-hundredths of a second.

Kovarik held on for 18 riders until U.S. champion Aaron Gwin (Yetis Fox Shox) took the lead down another two seconds.

At this point there were 20 riders still to race, but when Minnaar came through the finish six riders after Gwin and nearly nine seconds faster, it started to look like the World Cup leader had shaken off a poor qualifying run and was on track for his third victory of the season.

However, the South African knew better: "My training run was terrible... getting stuck in the gate with the rain [starting], there's not much we could do about it. But a result's a result, so you just have to move on and try your best and turn it into a positive. So I'm glad to turn it around and improve on that 15th in qualifying. I knew my time was beatable, and not a race-winning run. I'd made costly mistake on an easy section, and I knew I'd lost a lot of time in there, but it was hard to make no mistakes on this track."

Minnaar was correct, as Atherton was fastest through both intermediate splits and flew into the finish nearly three seconds faster than his rival. Only top qualifier Sam Blenkinsop (Lapierre International) was left to ride, and he could not match Atherton's run, slotting into fourth behind Brendan Fairclough (Monster Energy Specialized).

"I'm pretty stoked to put that time in on that track," said Atherton. "I knew Greg had the Hot Seat, and I knew I had my work cut out, and that it was going to be hard to knock him off. It is my second win of the season and I am over the moon right now."

Minnaar continues to lead the World Cup standings with 830 points but, due to his poor qualifier and Atherton's win and second place in qualifying, the British rider is only 13 points back with two races to go.

"I'm holding onto the [World Cup] lead by the skin of my teeth at this point," commented Minnaar, "and with two to go, it's not much of a gap. Gee and I will have to fight it out right to the end."

Race Notes

Nico Vink crashed hard in the men's race, hitting his helmet on the ground. It led to a 20-minute delay while he was airlifted out.

Full results

Elite men
1Gee Atherton (GBr) Commencal0:04:02.19 
2Greg Minnaar (RSA) Santa Cruz Syndicate0:00:02.79 
3Brendan Fairclough (GBr) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz0:00:04.56 
4Samuel Blenkinsop (NZl) Lapierre International0:00:04.81 
5Damien Spagnolo (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team0:00:05.32 
6Brook MacDonald (NZl) MS Evil Racing0:00:07.34 
7Fabien Pedemanaud (Fra) Scott 110:00:10.34 
8Aaron Gwin (USA) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team0:00:11.56 
9Chris Kovarik (Aus) Chain Reaction Cycles/Intense0:00:13.71 
10Ruaridh Cunningham (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles/Intense0:00:13.75 
11Mickael Pascal (Fra)0:00:13.77 
12Marc Beaumont (GBr) GT Bicycles0:00:14.33 
13Matti Lehikoinen (Fin) Chain Reaction Cycles/Intense0:00:15.78 
14Mitchell Delfs (Aus)0:00:15.91 
15Nick Beer (Swi) Scott 110:00:16.65 
16Shaun O'connor (Aus) Kenda-Playbiker0:00:16.87 
17Sam Dale (GBr)0:00:17.31 
18Steve Peat (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate0:00:17.52 
19Pierre Charles Georges (Fra) Solid Aclass Factory Team0:00:18.46 
20Bryn Atkinson (Aus) World Trail/Specialized0:00:21.23 
21Bernard Kerr (GBr) Norco World Team0:00:21.85 
22Danny Hart (GBr) Giant Factory Team0:00:22.83 
23Cyrille Kurtz (Fra) Team Lac Blanc Massif Des Vosges0:00:23.96 
24Fabien Cousinie (Fra) Blackmountain Morewood United0:00:24.28 
25Oliver Burton (GBr)0:00:24.30 
26Markus Pekoll (Aut) Solid Aclass Factory Team0:00:24.60 
27Antonio Ferreiro Pajuelo (Spa) XMS Racing Squad0:00:25.91 
28Matthew Scoles (NZl) Team Cingolani - Protone0:00:27.55 
29Cédric Gracia (Fra)0:00:27.88 
30Lorenzo Suding (Ita)0:00:27.99 
31Richard Thomas (GBr)0:00:28.49 
32Troy Brosnan (Aus) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz0:00:29.02 
33Wyn Masters (NZl) Kenda-Playbike0:00:29.11 
34Adam Brayton (GBr)0:00:29.35 
35Cameron Cole (NZl) Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain0:00:29.84 
36Bernat Guardia Pascual (Spa) Massi Team0:00:30.07 
37Florent Payet (Fra) Blackmountain Morewood United0:00:30.09 
37Ben Cathro (GBr) MTBcut.tv  
39Thibaut Ruffin (Fra) Commencal Superiders0:00:30.50 
40Steve Smith (Can) MS Evil Racing0:00:30.63 
41Robin Wallner (Swe) Team Sunn Montgenevre0:00:30.79 
42Harry Heath (GBr)0:00:31.21 
43Joseph Smith (GBr) Kona0:00:32.31 
44Justin Leov (NZl) Trek World Racing0:00:33.03 
45Matthew Simmonds (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles/Intense0:00:33.65 
46Luke Strobel (USA) MS Evil Racing0:00:34.04 
47Martin Frei (Swi)0:00:35.51 
48Dennis Dertell (Swe)0:00:35.64 
49Harry Molloy (GBr) 661/DMR/Last Bikes0:00:36.62 
50Dan Stanbridge (GBr) Dirt Norco Race Team0:00:36.86 
51Nejc Rutar (Slo) MBKOrbea0:00:38.25 
52George Brannigan (NZl) Ancillotti Doganaccia Racing Team0:00:39.47 
53Scott Mears (GBr)0:00:39.89 
54Michael Hannah (Aus) GT Bicycles0:00:40.32 
55Billy Caroli (Swi)0:00:40.95 
56Faustin Figaret (Fra) Team Sport Bike0:00:41.15 
57Thomas Braithwaite (GBr)0:00:41.69 
58Ben Baker (GBr)0:00:42.54 
59Julien Camellini (Fra) Chain Reaction Cycles/Intense0:00:42.57 
60Robert Smith (GBr)0:00:43.22 
61Carlo Gambirasio (Ita) Surfing Shop0:00:43.89 
62Benny Strasser (Ger)0:00:44.28 
63Andrew Neethling (RSA) Trek World Racing0:00:44.58 
64Ralph Jones (GBr)0:00:45.00 
65Ben Reid (Irl) Dirt Norco Race Team0:00:45.22 
66Thomas Jeandin (Swi)0:00:46.61 
67Kyle Strait (USA)0:00:48.03 
68Esteban Deronzier (Fra) Morzine-Avoriaz/Haute-Savoie0:00:49.38 
69Kristof Lenssens (Bel)0:00:50.15 
70Yannick Colomb (Fra)0:00:51.21 
71Matej Charvat (Cze) K.T.R. Racing Team0:00:52.06 
72Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas (Col)0:00:52.21 
73Arthur Racaud (Fra) US Cagnes VTT0:00:52.72 
74Neko Mulally (USA) Trek World Racing0:00:54.83 
75Joseph Nation (NZl)0:00:55.44 
76Bertrand Gilles (Bel)0:00:58.72 
77Romain Paulhan (Fra)0:01:07.79 
78Duncan Riffle (USA) Giant Factory Team0:01:08.78 
79Jack Reading (GBr)0:01:13.53 
80Fergus Lamb (GBr) Perth City Cycles0:01:14.41 
81Olivier Nicole (Fra)0:01:16.91 
DNFNico Vink (Bel)  
DNFJoris Bigoni (Fra)  
Elite men's teams
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Chain Reaction Cycles/Intense85 pts
2Scott 1170 
3Santa Cruz Syndicate48 
4Commencal40 
5Suspension Center40 
6Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain35 
7Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz32 
8Commencal Superiders32 
9Norco World Team32 
10Lapierre International30 
11Mondraker Factory Team28 
12Trek World Racing28 
13MS Evil Racing26 
14Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team23 
15RC Alpine Commencal Austria23 
16Morzine-Avoriaz/Haute-Savoie21 
17GT Bicycles19 
18Dr-Gravity Union18 
19Solid Aclass Factory Team17 
20Kenda-Playbiker15 
21Giant Factory Team9 
22Team Lac Blanc Massif Des Vosges8 
23Blackmountain Morewood United7 
24XMS Racing Squad4 
25Team Cingolani - Protone3 

World Cup Standings after four rounds

World Cup individual standings
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Greg Minnaar (RSA) Santa Cruz Syndicate830 pts
2Gee Atherton (GBr) Commencal817 
3Samuel Blenkinsop (NZl) Lapierre International569 
4Brendan Fairclough (GBr) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz510 
5Aaron Gwin (USA) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team495 
6Cameron Cole (NZl) Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain450 
7Fabien Pedemanaud (Fra) Scott 11360 
8Matti Lehikoinen (Fin) Chain Reaction Cycles/Intense333 
9Damien Spagnolo (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team318 
10Justin Leov (NZl) Trek World Racing311 
11Steve Peat (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate305 
12Marc Beaumont (GBr) GT Bicycles301 
13Danny Hart (GBr) Giant Factory Team295 
14Shaun O'connor (Aus) Kenda-Playbiker263 
15Matthew Simmonds (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles/Intense259 
16Nick Beer (Swi) Scott 11251 
17Steve Smith (Can) MS Evil Racing247 
18Michael Hannah (Aus) GT Bicycles245 
19Bryn Atkinson (Aus)239 
20Luke Strobel (USA) MS Evil Racing235 
21Julien Camellini (Fra) Chain Reaction Cycles/Intense218 
22Brook Macdonald (NZl) MS Evil Racing211 
23Andrew Neethling (RSA) Trek World Racing207 
24Mickael Pascal (Fra)205 
25Ben Reid (Irl) Dirt Norco Race Team203 
26Florent Payet (Fra) Blackmountain Morewood United201 
27Mitchell Delfs (Aus)199 
28Joseph Smith (GBr) Kona195 
29Sam Dale (GBr)193 
30Ben Cathro (GBr)192 
31Wyn Masters (NZl) Kenda-Playbiker185 
32Matthew Scoles (NZl) Team Cingolani - Protone182 
33Chris Kovarik (Aus) Chain Reaction Cycles/Intense181 
34Ruaridh Cunningham (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles/Intense165 
35Aurélien Giordanengo (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team165 
36Samuel Hill (Aus) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz160 
37Thomas Braithwaite (GBr)155 
38Nico Vink (Bel)154 
39Thibaut Ruffin (Fra) Commencal Superiders153 
40Romain Paulhan (Fra)148 
41Antonio Ferreiro Pajuelo (Spa) XMS Racing Squad146 
42Robin Wallner (Swe) Team Sunn Montgenevre143 
43Josh Bryceland (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate138 
44Filip Polc (Svk) MS Evil Racing138 
45Troy Brosnan° (Aus) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz137 
46Markus Pekoll (Aut) Solid Aclass Factory Team136 
47Harry Molloy (GBr)135 
48Pierre Charles Georges (Fra) Solid Aclass Factory Team133 
49Cédric Gracia (Fra)125 
50Bernat Guardia Pascual (Spa) Massi Team122 
51Joshua Button (Aus) Kona121 
52George Brannigan° (NZl) Ancillotti Doganaccia Racing Team118 
53Kyle Strait (USA)112 
54Joe Barnes (GBr)105 
55Dennis Dertell (Swe)99 
56Fabien Cousinie (Fra) Blackmountain Morewood United98 
57Bernard Kerr (GBr) Norco World Team94 
58Adam Vagner (Cze)94 
59Richard Thomas (GBr)92 
60Matej Charvat (Cze) K.T.R. Racing Team92 
61Cyrille Kurtz (Fra) Team Lac Blanc Massif Des Vosges88 
62Robert Smith (GBr)88 
63Oliver Burton (GBr)87 
64Joris Bigoni (Fra)87 
65Emanuel Pombo (Por)86 
66Adam Brayton (GBr)83 
67Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas (Col)83 
68Fergus Lamb (GBr)78 
69Marcus Klausmann (Ger) Ghost A.T.G. Pro Team78 
70Marco Milivinti (Ita) Team Cingolani - Protone78 
71Lorenzo Suding (Ita)77 
72Benny Strasser (Ger)75 
73Duncan Riffle (USA) Giant Factory Team69 
74Dan Atherton (GBr) Commencal65 
75Nathan Rankin (NZl) Kenda-Playbiker65 
76Ralph Jones (GBr)62 
77Harry Heath (GBr)59 
78Scott Mears (GBr)59 
79Chris Hutchens (GBr)53 
80Pasqual Canals Flix (Spa) XMS Racing Squad50 
81Nejc Rutar (Slo) MBK Orbea50 
82Ludovic May (Swi)47 
83Alexander Kangas (Swe)44 
84Curtis Keene (USA)40 
85Antoine Badouard (Fra)39 
86Rémi Thirion (Fra) Team Sunn Montgenevre39 
87Emyr Davies (GBr)35 
88Martin Frei (Swi)34 
89Lars Peyer (Swi) Suspension Center32 
90Dan Stanbridge (GBr) Dirt Norco Race Team31 
91Lewis Buchanan° (GBr) MS Evil Racing30 
92Mathieu Gallean (Fra) Ryde-Racing29 
93Billy Caroli (Swi)26 
94Olivier Nicole (Fra)26 
95Aari Barrett (NZl) Scott 1126 
96Faustin Figaret° (Fra) Team Sport Bike25 
97Ben Baker (GBr)23 
98Jack Reading (GBr)23 
99Carlo Gambirasio (Ita) Surfing Shop20 
100Boris Tetzlaff (Aut) Ghost A.T.G. Pro Team19 
101Marco Bugnone (Ita) Argentina Bike Gravity Team18 
102Thomas Jeandin (Swi)15 
103Maxime Remy (Fra) Suspension Center15 
104Scott Laughland (Irl)14 
105Esteban Deronzier (Fra) Morzine-Avoriaz/Haute-Savoie13 
106Kristof Lenssens (Bel)12 
107Marcel Beer (Swi)11 
108Yannick Colomb (Fra)11 
109Ivan Oulego Moreno (Spa) Massi Team11 
110Sam Flockhart° (GBr) Lapierre International10 
111Jan Javornik (Svk)9 
112Florian Arthus (Fra)8 
113Arthur Racaud° (Fra) US Cagnes VTT8 
114Neko Mulally° (USA) Trek World Racing7 
115Mark Scott° (GBr)7 
116Joseph Nation (NZl)6 
117Bertrand Gilles (Bel)5 
118Kim Petersson (Swe)4 
119Evan Turpen (USA)3 
World Cup team standings
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Chain Reaction Cycles/Intense309 pts
2Scott 11260 
3Commencal240 
4Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain235 
5Santa Cruz Syndicate219 
6Trek World Racing196 
7Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz125 
8Suspension Center124 
9Commencal Superiders122 
10MS Evil Racing119 
11Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team109 
12Lapierre International105 
13GT Bicycles96 
14RC Alpine Commencal Austria92 
15Morzine-Avoriaz/Haute-Savoie89 
16Norco World Team71 
17Dr-Gravity Union60 
18Giant Factory Team57 
19Mondraker Factory Team50 
20Kenda-Playbiker42 
21Kona41 
22Solid Aclass Factory Team28 
23Team Cingolani - Protone20 
24Team Sunn Montgenevre20 
25Blackmountain Morewood United16 
26Dirt Norco Race Team15 
27Massi Team8 
28Team Lac Blanc Massif Des Vosges8 
29Ancillotti Doganaccia Racing Team6 
30XMS Racing Squad4 
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