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Fort William to host unusual downhill endurance race

Around 120 downhillers are set to participate in the inaugural Fort William Downhill Endurance event in Fort William, Scotland, on Sunday, September 7. The event will be staged on the internationally renowned downhill track at Nevis Range, home to the 2007 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships.

As one of the longest and most physically demanding courses on the international race circuit, riders will need physical strength, quick reflexes, superb bike control and an unerring eye for the right line as they speed down the 2.82km Nevis Range track. They will also need huge amounts of stamina in order to ride the track as many times as possible in six hours.

The Nevis Range Downhill course is a full-on, flat-out, no-compromise charge down the face of Aonach Mor, the ninth highest mountain in the United Kingdom. A succession of big jumps and bumps, berms, drop-offs, rock slabs and technical natural sections provide plenty of challenges for the riders, all the way from the top gondola station (at 655m) to the finish section above the Nevis Range car park (100m).

Local elite rider Chris Hutchens (Team Mojo Orange) has signed up and will lead a strong field including Stu Thompson and Iain Cookson

'The Fort William Downhill Endurance is a new and totally unique event to the UK and it has already captured the imagination of some of the key players in the downhill community," said organizer Frazer Coupland. "It is a fresh, new and different event, whilst challenging enough to be completely in keeping with the gnarly hardcore scene normally associated with downhill riders.

Although it is a downhill race, it will start with an uphill Le Mans style start, which will separate the field in the early stages. After a short run to the event tech area downhill bikes will be collected and ridden uphill to the Nevis Range Gondola's Tower Nine – about three quarters of the way down from the top. Riders will then race as fast as possible to the bottom where they will catch the gondola to the traditional start of the track at the top station. Each descent will be timed with the cumulative descent times counting in cases of equal total numbers of descents.

The event will test not only endurance but reliability. Participants will only be allowed one bike and a list of itemised spares to see them through the whole event. There will be time penalties for riders who have to change wheels, forks, bars, frames and other major components and riders will not be allowed assistance outside the tech area.

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