The Athertons take Euro DH Championships

Brother and sister Gee and Rachel Atherton won their respective European Championships in Elite Downhill at the weekend, while elder brother Dan finished top 5.

Like last year, the 2006 European Championships were held in Vale di Sole, Italy and where the World Mountain Bike Championships will be hosted in 2008, as recently confirmed by the UCI.

The course was extremely tricky, with many riders crashing. In fact it was almost a matter of who could get themselves up from the ground quickest that qualified well. In the Men's qualifying, Gee qualified first, and Dan in the lower part of the top 10. In the women's qualifying Rachel crashed and came in second behind Emmeline Ragot of France.

In the final Gee stomped down the hill and won by more than three seconds over compatriot Marc Beaumont and two- time World Champion, Fabien Barel (FRA). Dan crashed but still managed a creditable 5th place.

Rachel had more difficulty with her win; "Pretty much everyone crashed in their race runs, you just had to be good at getting up! I had such a bad run, crashed then made loads of mistakes, I nearly gave up, but you can't do that! It was a pretty mad weekend," said Rachel on her return to the UK.


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