Fantastic news for Atherton Racing, with a first double of the season for Rachael and Gee in Australia. We’ve been working with Gee in the off-season following operations on his ankle and elbow, while Taylor Vernon has got back on his bike in record time.
After a difficult start to the season the awesome Atherton siblings dominated World Cup Round 2 in Cairns taking their wins by huge margins with 11 seconds clear for Rachel in the Women’s Elite and 4.2 seconds for Gee in the Men’s.GT Factory Racing’s junior rider Taylor Vernon once again demonstrated his new maturity which paid off in his First World Cup Podium – 4thplace – despite two crashes on his run. Marc Beaumont put in a solid run, 5th at the first split and 8th as he crossed the line to finish in 17th overall.
With days of rain in the run up to the Finals exhausting riders and support teams alike Cairns was never an easy weekend. True to forecast the rain held off for most of race day allowing the heavy clay to dry out and become stickier and stickier. The mud made the whole track a challenge, as evidenced by the number of crashes but it was on the flatter bottom section where the race was won in a show of the strength and determination that characterise this family. When it comes down to pure guts nobody can get near them.
In the Junior race Loris Vergier repeated his winning qualifying run to take the top spot but 2nd place qualifier, Luca Shaw, slipped down the ranks to 9th. Australian Aiden Varley took 2nd place, Neil Stewart of Great Britain took the third and Taylor took the 4th after losing a chunk of time with two crashes.
Team Director Dan Brown said “We’re stoked for Taylor’s first top 5, once again he stuck to the plan and didn’t do anything crazy, it was a hard race and he’s clearly disappointed with the mistakes that cost him those valuable seconds but he won’t be hearing any complaints from the team.”
In the Women’s race Manon Carpenter threw down an incredible run to go 14 seconds clear of 3rd place Myriam Nicole and 17 seconds clear of Emmeline Ragot but last down the hill Rachel put in an incredible performance to go 11 seconds clear.
Rachel said: “That was the hardest race ever, the conditions made the racetrack horrifically muddy, slippery and slow to roll, it was so hard! The crowd was amazing though because every time I felt like I was crashing they were cheering so loudly that I had to keep it upright! I was absolutely blown away by Gee’s performance, he never fails to surprise and impress me. Proud of my bro!”
The Men’s race was one of the most exciting for a long time for the thousands of Gee Atherton fans that had woken early or stayed up late to follow the live feed.
Britain’s Josh Bryceland was in the hot seat having taken nearly 3 seconds off Sam Hill when Gee dropped in on flat pedals. It was clearly the right choice as he laid down an absolutely incredible run to go ahead of Bryceland by 4.2 seconds. There were 5 riders left to go. Greg Minnaar crashed, Loic Bruni had the fastest time at split 1 but he also crashed, Gwin was 6 seconds down at split 1….and suddenly only top qualifier Sam Blenkinsop was left at the top. But Blenki came in 8.5 seconds off the pace to end up in 6th and Gee was back on the top step!”
“That was amazing, totally wild, I’m so stoked with the double win, Rach rode it like a boss. I’d felt like my bike set up was slightly off in South Africa, so we’ve been testing and tweaking, and testing some more. I felt back to my old self again today, riding back on the edge,” said Gee.
Team Director Dan Brown summed up “We needed this today, it was a hard week for sure, all credit goes to our three musketeers, Pete, Mark and Joe for their endless hours of work this week, in fact they haven’t stopped since Gee finished his run in Africa. We’re not here for top tens afterall”
1st Gee Atherton GT Factory Racing 4:00.707
2nd Josh Bryceland Santa Cruz Syndicate 4:04.93 +4.22
3rd Neko Mulally Trek World Racing 4:07.80 +6.93
4th Aaron Gwin Specialized Racing DH 4.07.88 +7.09
5th Sam Hill Chainreactioncycles.com/Nukeproof +7.182
18th Marc Beaumont GT Factory Racing 4:14.04 +13.34
1st Rachel Atherton GT Factory Racing 4:54.04
2nd Manon Carpenter Madison Saracen Factory Team 5:02.23 +11.65
3rd Myriam Nicole Commencal/Ring Addiction 5:16.42 +25.84
4th Emmeline Ragot Lapierre Gravity Republic 5:18.84 +28.26
5th Tracy Hannah Hutchinson UR 5:20.15 +29.58
1st Loris Vergier Lapierre Gravity Republic 4:27.89
2nd Aiden Varley Aus 4:33.59 +5.2
3rd Neil Stewart GBR 4:38.91 +11.02
4th Taylor Vernon GT Factory Racing 4:44.66 +16.45
5th Connor Hamilton NZ 4:47.31 +19.42