Gee Atherton wins downhill world championships in Hafjell

Bryceland finishes second despite breaking his foot

Gee Atherton gave Great Britain its second downhill world title of the day at the 2014 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Hafjell, Norway on Sunday afternoon. Another Brit, Josh Bryceland managed to finish second despite breaking his foot during his run. Troy Brosnan (Australia) was third. The top three riders were within 0.566 seconds of each other on what was a dramatic crash- and mechanical-filled kind of a day.

"It's an incredible feeling to be back in the rainbow stripes," said Atherton as he celebrated his second elite downhill world title. "2008 was a long time ago. It's been awhile, but winning the world champs is never something you stop wanting, and I never stopped working toward it."

Bryn Atkinson (Australia) set one of the early fast times with a 3:29.973, setting him up for an extended stay in the hot seat.

The 70th man down the mountain, Jack Moir (Australia) bettered Atkinson's time to record a 3:27.600, and another eight riders later, Remi Thiron (France) took over after a super smooth run ending in 3:26.854 and making him the first man to break 3:27.

Soon after, the favorites started rolling down the mountain and many of them saw their chances evaporate when they crashed, including George Brannigan (New Zealand) and Mick Hannah (Australia). Both appeared to be on fire until their crashes.

Andrew Neethling, a previous podium finisher in Hafjell at the World Cup, was also having a good run, but he later broke his chain.

Neko Mullaly (United States) was the next man down the mountain and with his 3:25.979, he took over the hot seat. What was especially impressive was that he did nearly all of the run without a chain. With or without a chain, it was by far the American's best international performance.

"Out of the start ramp, I broke my chain during the first gear shift. I rode my bike well aside from that and I guess that's what did it," said Mulally. "I couldn't believe it was green when I came across the finish." His time was good enough for fourth on the day.

Other favorites also crashed including a spectacular endo from former world champion Sam Hill (Australia) and a crash by another former world champion Danny Hart (Great Britain).

Neither Aaron Gwin (United States), Loic Bruni (France) nor Matthew Simmonds (Great Britain) were fast enough to medal.

Defending world champion Greg Minnaar (South Africa) was having a good run until he flatted and crashed.

The fourth to last man down the mountain was Atherton. He dabbed a foot during his run, but set the fastest time of 3:23.800 and then waited to see if it would hold up.

"My run was ok, but it was messy," said Atherton. "There were some mistakes out there, but it's that kind of track. You have to expect things to change. I wasn't pleased with the run, but I knew I'd made it to the bottom and that's all you can ask for really."

"At the time, I thought it wasn't good enough for the gold. I thought I'd blown it and made too many mistakes. These days the riders are going so fast you can't make any mistakes because they are won by tenths or hundredths of tha second."

Next up, Sam Blenkinsop (New Zealand) pedalled as he flew through the air and did his run generally in high style, but wasn't fast enough to make the podium.

Then, Troy Brosnan (Australia), a former junior world champion, clocked a 3:24.335 and moved into second place.

Then all eyes were on the last man down the mountain, Josh Bryceland (Great Britain). He was coming off a fantastic season, including a World Cup overall win. He was the fastest at the first two splits and looked to be having a great run, that is until he came down too late on one jump in the final 200m. He landed so hard that his foot slammed into the pedal and was broken.

Startled and confused by what happened, Bryceland somehow managed to keep it upright and finish the race fast enough to earn the silver medal and bump Brosnan to third.

"I didn't know I'd won it today literally until the last man was down. It was a close call," said Atherton. "It shows you how dangerous the sport is and how much riders are putting on the line these days."

Brosnan said, "I think the world champs is always a special race. Everyone steps their game up and pushes hard. I realized that and I saw the times the guys were putting in all week, and I knew I had to keep pushing to find better lines and go faster and faster."

"The day was good. I was feeling pretty nervous but also wanted to get out there and do my best. I had to do my own race and see where that put me. To get third is a break-out year for me. It will be good to come back next year and get the win."

The usual post-race celebrations were muted as Bryceland was carried off the course by teammates since he couldn't walk on his injured foot. The UCI later reported that he was taken immediately to the hospital and would be undergoing surgery, possibly for a fractured metatarsal and one or more dislocations.

Full Results

Elite men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Gee Atherton (Great Britain)0:03:23.800 
2Josh Bryceland (Great Britain)0:00:00.407 
3Troy Brosnan (Australia)0:00:00.566 
4Neko Mulally (United States Of America)0:00:02.210 
5Brook Macdonald (New Zealand)0:00:03.028 
6Rémi Thirion (France)0:00:03.085 
7Samuel Blenkinsop (New Zealand)0:00:03.199 
8Loic Bruni (France)0:00:03.314 
9Matthew Simmonds (Great Britain)0:00:03.457 
10Jack Moir (Australia)0:00:03.831 
11Sam Dale (Great Britain)0:00:04.142 
12Markus Pekoll (Austria)0:00:04.700 
13Nick Beer (Switzerland)0:00:04.940 
14Aaron Gwin (United States Of America)0:00:04.997 
15Cameron Cole (New Zealand)0:00:05.438 
16Steve Peat (Great Britain)0:00:05.834 
17Danny Hart (Great Britain)0:00:05.939 
18Bryn Atkinson (Australia)0:00:06.204 
19Greg Williamson (Great Britain)0:00:06.735 
20Mark Wallace (Canada)0:00:06.866 
21Andrew Neethling (South Africa)0:00:07.284 
22Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas (Colombia)0:00:07.564 
23Robin Wallner (Sweden)0:00:07.604 
24Johannes Fischbach (Germany)0:00:08.152 
25Guillaume Cauvin (France)0:00:09.137 
26Samuel Hill (Australia)0:00:09.187 
27Eliot Jackson (United States Of America)0:00:09.326 
28Oscar Harnstrom (Sweden)0:00:09.515 
29Johannes Von Klebelsberg (Italy)0:00:09.789 
30Greg Minnaar (South Africa)0:00:10.064 
31Antonio Ferreiro Pajuelo (Spain)0:00:10.119 
32Lars Vatnebryn Sandviken (Norway)0:00:10.475 
33Wyn Masters (New Zealand)0:00:10.994 
34Kyle Sangers (Canada)0:00:11.161 
35Edward Masters (New Zealand)0:00:11.507 
36Remi Gauvin (Canada)0:00:11.694 
37Isak Leivsson (Norway)0:00:11.983 
38David Trummer (Austria)0:00:12.077 
39Matthew Walker (New Zealand)0:00:12.255 
40Emanuel Pombo (Portugal)0:00:12.624 
41Graeme Mudd (Australia)0:00:12.678 
42Mckay Vezina (Canada)0:00:12.795 
43Ziga Pandur (Slovenia)0:00:13.610 
44Bernardo Neves Cruz (Brazil)0:00:13.738 
45Slawomir Lukasik (Poland)0:00:13.877 
46Bernat Guardia Pascual (Spain)0:00:13.986 
47Francisco Pardal (Portugal)0:00:14.734 
48Marcus Klausmann (Germany)0:00:15.601 
49Niklas Wallner (Sweden)0:00:15.939 
50Gianluca Vernassa (Italy)0:00:16.261 
51Ondrej Stepanek (Czech Republic)0:00:17.115 
52Mario José Jarrin Molina (Ecuador)0:00:17.265 
53Carlo Caire (Italy)0:00:17.595 
54Jure Zabjek (Slovenia)0:00:17.742 
55Terje Nylende (Norway)0:00:18.151 
56Tiaan Odendaal (South Africa)0:00:18.157 
57Kazuki Shimizu (Japan)0:00:18.555 
58Alexander Kangas (Sweden)0:00:18.848 
59Maxime Chapuis (Switzerland)0:00:19.549 
60Lucas Bertol (Brazil)0:00:21.305 
61Samuel Bull (South Africa)0:00:21.698 
62Niclas Andersen (Norway)0:00:21.874 
63Joshua Barth (Germany)0:00:22.629 
64Stefan Garlicki (South Africa)0:00:23.138 
65Max Morgan (United States Of America)0:00:23.203 
66Christopher Mcglinchey (Ireland)0:00:23.809 
67Nikolay Pukhir (Russian Federation)0:00:24.234 
68Attila Liszi (Hungary)0:00:26.238 
69Lukas Ucen (Slovakia)0:00:26.350 
70Juan Sebastian Reascos Yepez (Ecuador)0:00:28.407 
71Mika Sukanen (Finland)0:00:29.349 
72Felix Heine (Germany)0:00:33.711 
73Nataniel Giacomozzi (Brazil)0:00:33.736 
74Snorre Setrom (Norway)0:00:34.035 
75Rastislav Baranek (Slovakia)0:00:35.156 
76Lucas Eduardo Alves De Borba (Brazil)0:00:36.446 
77Lukas Splichal (Czech Republic)0:00:39.200 
78Stanislav Sehnal (Czech Republic)0:00:39.635 
79George Brannigan (New Zealand)0:00:40.255 
80Gabor Palotai (Hungary)0:00:42.084 
81Michael Hannah (Australia)0:00:45.366 
82Daniil Semenov (Russian Federation)0:00:53.011 
83Jasper Jauch (Germany)0:00:53.202 
84Raido Zirna (Estonia)0:01:04.981 
85Hendrik Kirsipuu (Estonia)0:01:05.902 
86Juho Mattus (Estonia)0:01:17.108 
87Saken Kagarov (Kazakhstan)0:01:18.699 
DNFZakarias Blom Johansen (Norway)  
DNFPeter Keresztes (Hungary)  
DNFAki Färm (Finland)  
DNSConnor Fearon (Australia)  
DNSManuel Gruber (Austria)  
DNSBoris Tetzlaff (Austria)  
DNSBenny Strasser (Germany)  
DNSChristian Textor (Germany)  
DNSVille Ormo (Finland)  
DNSKiran Mackinnon (United States Of America)  
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Great Britain261 pts
5United States Of America228 
8South Africa166 
19Czech Republic67 
25Russian Federation33 


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