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Atherton flies to Mont-Sainte-Anne downhill World Cup win

The last woman down the mountain, Rachel Atherton (GT Factory Racing), took victory in the elite women's downhill World Cup in Mont-Sainte-Anne on Sunday. Myriam Nicole (Commencal/Riding Addiction) and Emmeline Ragot (MS Mondraker Team) rounded out the top three. Nicole was just 1.842 seconds behind Atherton. Ragot was another half second back.

"I'm happy," said Atherton after her win. "I'm relieved because everyone is so fast and strong and they are a little bit crazy, like they don't mind if they crash. I'm scared to crash, and I think I was lucky."

"I wasn't risking everything, and you have to risk everything to win. One more minute of track, and I probably would have been second. It always surprises me how hard it is to race after four days of riding - Mont-Sainte-Anne is an extra day. It's tough."

Micayla Gatto set the first fast time of the day as the 10th rider down the hill. The Canadian finished in 4:59.435, a time that put her in the hot seat and would be good enough for fifth on the day.

"I couldn't be happier. I hit all of my lines. The only thing I could have done to get a better time was to have pedalled a little bit more," said Gatto. "I'm ecstatic. This is my first World Cup podium ever, and I'm absolutely over the moon."

She is looking forward to racing the Canadian national championships on the same course in July. "It's good that our Canadian champs will be on the same course. I think it will be an advantage to those of us who raced here this weekend."

Gatto's time held for another half dozen riders. That's when Emilie Siegenthaler (Scott11) set the bar higher with a 4:58.973. The Swiss rider was delighted with her performance.

"This is my best result ever so of course I'm satisfied," she said. "I was back at the first split, and my run wasn't the best. I could have done a bit better, but I'm really stoked with it."

Siegenthaler thought she made her run on the technical part. She was extra motivated after her teammate Floriane Pugin had to sit out the finals following a crash in practice in which she hit her head and was left dizzy. "I wanted to get revenge on the track that destroyed my teammate's face," said Siegenthaler.

The next rider up, Tracey Hannah (Hutchinson United Ride), did not set a new best time. "I made a mistake in the top woods, but it was pretty good," said Hannah. "It was dry and fast and I felt good. It was a very tough course, and I'm looking forward to next weekend in Windham. What makes this course tough is the length and the amount of technical bits in it."

World champion Emmeline Ragot (MS Mondraker) set a new best time with a 4:52.357. She was going well enough that she might have won the race, but a mechanical put an end to her chances.

"I broke my chainguard, so I couldn't pedal any more after that in the bottom part," said Ragot. "It's the kind of thing that happens and you can't do anything about it. I had thought about it during training: 'If you break something, just keep going, don't brake and keep it smooth.'" She did just that and still managed to finish third overall on the day.

Myriam Nicole (Commencal / Riding Addiction) bumped Ragot out of the hotseat with a 4:51.811. "I was happy to come first when I came down, but I had done two mistakes on the way down," she said. "I almost crashed and lost quite a bit of time, but second is not bad."

The only woman to beat Nicole was Atherton, who said her knowledge of the track helped her immensely.

"It surprises you how much you ride the track from memory because it is so fast," said Atherton. "I can't see the rocks and react fast enough, so a lot of it is memory. You hit holes and stuff that are new now and you just blast through them. It's wild."

"I felt tired out there. This track is so full on and 100 percent, and when you do get to a straight, you just want to sit down and relax. People were like 'come on pedal' and I was like 'I'm trying to relax'." Atherton had a particularly good top section and didn't want to throw it away down low by messing up.

The British gravity star was very motivated to be back in top form. "I think I can safely say that this is one of the first races in a long time that I attacked. I was very determined and very focused. It's the first time in awhile that I felt like I was really in the zone."

Canada placed two riders in the top 10 on home turf: Gatto in fifth and Casey Brown in sixth. The best American was Jill Kintner (Team Norco International) in eighth.

"My run was pretty good. I don't know why my time wasn't better. I guess I was just braking in spots where I could have been off the brakes," said Kintner. " It's so fast that you are taking in as much as you can. The course was real grippy - it was good. I should have pushed a little harder."

Ragot leads the World Cup standings with 740 points to runner-up Atherton's 700 points. Nicole is in third with 641 points.

Full Results

Elite women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rachel Atherton (GBr) GT Factory Racing0:04:49.969
2Myriam Nicole (Fra) Commencal / Riding Addiction0:00:01.842
3Emmeline Ragot (Fra) MS Mondraker Team0:00:02.388
4Emilie Siegenthaler (Swi) Scott110:00:09.004
5Micayla Gatto (Can)0:00:09.466
6Casey Brown (Can)0:00:11.735
7Tracey Hannah (Aus) Hutchinson United Ride0:00:16.016
8Jill Kintner (USA) Team Norco International0:00:17.007
9Anita Molcik (Aut)0:00:17.037
10Petra Bernhard (Aut) Alpine Commencal Austria0:00:17.607
11Morgane Charre (Fra) Passion Velo.Fr0:00:18.486
12Claire Buchar (Can)0:00:20.644
13Manon Carpenter (GBr) Madison Saracen Downhill Team0:00:24.109
14Mio Suemasa (Jpn)0:00:27.051
15Miriam Ruchti (Swi) SC-Intense0:00:27.324
16Sabrina Jonnier (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team0:00:27.754
17Jacqueline Harmony (USA)0:00:27.895
18Jessica Stone (GBr) Unior Tools Team0:00:32.118
19Miranda Miller (Can)0:00:43.814
20Fionn Griffiths (GBr)0:00:46.618
DNSFloriane Pugin (Fra) Scott11

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1GT Factory Racing80pts
2MS Mondraker Team69
3Trek World Racing61
4Lapierre International60
5Giant Factory Off-Road Team55
6Santa Cruz Syndicate54
7Commencal / Riding Addiction52
9Devinci Global Racing38
10Hutchinson United Ride34
11Monster Energy-Specialized28
12Team Norco International18
13Alpine Commencal Austria12
14Chain Reaction Cycles.Com / Nukeproof12
15CG Racing Brigade11
16Passion Velo.Fr10
17Madison Saracen Downhill Team8
18Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team8
20Topcycle By Trek7
22Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team5
23Unior Tools Team3
24Pila-BlaCK Arrows-MTBHerin School Asd1

World Cup individual standings after four rounds
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Emmeline Ragot (Fra)740pts
2Rachel Atherton (GBr)700
3Myriam Nicole (Fra)641
4Tracey Hannah (Aus)542
5Emilie Siegenthaler (Swi)435
6Jill Kintner (USA)338
7Floriane Pugin (Fra)335
8Anita Molcik (Aut)320
9Morgane Charre (Fra)271
10Petra Bernhard (Aut)234
11Manon Carpenter (GBr)205
12Miriam Ruchti (Swi)157
13Tracy Moseley (GBr)124
14Micayla Gatto (Can)110
15Mio Suemasa (Jpn)110
16Sabrina Jonnier (Fra)105
17Miranda Miller (Can)105
18Casey Brown (Can)95
19Céline Gros (Fra)90
20Fionn Griffiths (GBr)90
21Luana Maria De Souza Oliveira (Bra)84
22Harriet Rucknagel (Ger)70
23Claire Buchar (Can)57
24Alia Marcellini (Ita)55
25Jessica Stone (GBr)50
26Caroline Sax (Fra)40
27Mélanie Pugin (Fra)35
28Tahnee° Seagrave (GBr)35
29Martina Bruehlmann (Swi)35
30Zarja Cernilogar (Slo)35
31Sarah Newman (GBr)30
32Gabriela Williams (Cze)25
33Jacqueline Harmony (USA)20
34Carina Cappellari (Swi)20
35Tamara Maria Ulrich (Aut)15

World Cup team standings after four rounds
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1GT Factory Racing292pts
2Santa Cruz Syndicate226
3MS Mondraker Team222
4Trek World Racing221
5Lapierre International191
6Hutchinson United Ride171
7Devinci Global Racing169
9Giant Factory Off-Road Team158
10Commencal / Riding Addiction137
11Monster Energy-Specialized125
12Team Norco International82
13Chain Reaction Cycles.Com / Nukeproof78
14Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team68
15Passion Velo.Fr50
16Alpine Commencal Austria46
17Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team44
18Madison Saracen Downhill Team43
20CG Racing Brigade37
21Team Morzine - Avoriaz / Haute - Savoie27
22Topcycle By Trek25
24Team Lac Blanc / Solid / Batibois Alsace12
25CK Racing Santacruz11
26Unior Tools Team10
27Torpado Surfing Shop10
28Team Are Bikepark By W-Racing9
29Dirt Norco Race Team4
30Ghost Factory Racing Team3
31Pila-BlaCK Arrows-MTBHerin School Asd1


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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.

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