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Atherton takes second win of season

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)
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/Intense85pts
2Scott 1170
3Santa Cruz Syndicate48
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
17GT Bicycles19
18Dr-Gravity Union18
19Solid Aclass Factory Team17
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 Syndicate830pts
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/Intense309pts
2Scott 11260
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
16Norco World Team71
17Dr-Gravity Union60
18Giant Factory Team57
19Mondraker Factory Team50
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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