MTB 2016 UCI Moun­tain Bike DH World Cham­pi­onships

Canada's Iles Takes His­toric Win Man­son Claims Sil­ver

Pedal Magazine - - Competition -

The 2016 UCI Down­hill Moun­tain Bike World Cham­pi­onships were hosted in Val di Sole, Italy, Sept. 6-11. Rachel Ather­ton (GBR) capped a per­fect sea­son by suc­cess­fully de­fend­ing the Elite women's ti­tle, while Danny Hart (GBR) won the Elite men's rain­bow jer­sey. In the ju­nior cat­e­gories, Cana­dian phe­nom Finn­ley Iles (CAN) won the men's, with host Italy's Alessia Mis­si­ag­gia win­ning the ju­nior women's ti­tle.

The ju­nior men saw an in­cred­i­ble 1-2 fin­ish for Canada, with World Cup cham­pion Iles the only rider to go less than three min­utes and 50 sec­onds at 3:47.405 for an amaz­ing his­toric win for Canada. To make it even sweeter, his com­pa­triot Mag­nus Man­son took the sil­ver medal at 3.796 sec­onds back, fol­lowed by France's Gae­tan Vigier at 4.610 sec­onds. Canada's Henry Fitzger­ald fin­ished 29th, while Adam Rob­bins was 55th.

“It's just amaz­ing. This whole week's been hec­tic and to come down with a good time like that – I'm just over the moon. Canada 1-2 is the best we could have hoped for this year,” com­mented Iles, who won the World Cup over­all ti­tle as well for an­other Cana­dian first.

Man­son's phe­nom­e­nal podium run was a ca­reer-best re­sult, as well as a his­toric fin­ish for Canada at the DH Worlds. “It feels great to share the podium with Finn . . . it's been a long time com­ing,” said Man­son.

In the ju­nior women's com­pe­ti­tion, Mis­si­ag­gia (ITA) was by far the fastest, fin­ish­ing 11.946 sec­onds ahead of Sa­man­tha King­shill (USA), with Flora Le­soin (FRA) in third at 25.960 sec­onds.

Ather­ton (GBR) was on an un­prece­dented win­ning streak, with 13 con­sec­u­tive World Cup wins, in­clud­ing sweep­ing the 2016 se­ries, her sec­ond straight World ti­tle, the fourth of her ca­reer. Ather­ton was the fastest every­where on the rough, dusty track, lead­ing at both in­ter­me­di­ate splits and fin­ish­ing with a time of four min­utes and 20.187 sec­onds.

Manon Car­pen­ter (GBR), start­ing sec­ond from last, crashed in the first turn, tak­ing her out of podium con­tention. Myr­iam Ni­cole (FRA), who had been oc­cu­py­ing the hot seat for a long time, held the spot un­til the fi­nal rider, Ather­ton (GBR) came down 3.114 sec­onds faster. Tracey Han­nah (AUS) re­peated in third place.

“I can­not ac­tu­ally be­lieve it,” said Ather­ton, “I was like, `I'm sure Tracey will win; she was just rid­ing so good in the dry dust.' I thought, `Throw it to the wind.' I just didn't care if I crashed, I've had such a good year. This track is wild, ab­so­lutely mad. You just can't ride it, you just have to go. You can't even ride it – you just fall, a con­trolled fall all the way down. It's just so rad-like. Racing is mad. You just switch on – there's noth­ing else like it. I wish ev­ery­one could ex­pe­ri­ence it.”

With a solid run, Canada's Mi­randa Miller just made it into the top 10 plac­ing a strong 10th, while fel­low Canuck Ge­or­gia As­tle fin­ished 13th.

Former ju­nior world cham­pion Lau­rie Green­land (GBR), rid­ing with 20 cy­clists to go, was the first to beat the seed­ing run time of Danny Hart (GBR), and con­tin­ued to hold the lead as the top-10 be­gan their runs. At five rid­ers to go, Loic Bruni (FRA), the de­fend­ing world cham­pion, punc­tured part­way down.

Fi­nally, it was Hart's turn. He came into the Cham­pi­onships with three con­sec­u­tive World Cup wins, and con­tin­ued the streak when it counted, blaz­ing into the lead in Val di Sole, fastest on all points of the course, to take the lead by nearly three sec­onds. World Cup cham­pion Aaron Gwin (USA), the fi­nal starter, flat­ted shortly af­ter the start, al­low­ing Hart to claim his sec­ond World ti­tle, fol­lowed by Green­land and Florent Payet (FRA). For Hart, 2016 was an as­ton­ish­ing come­back, hav­ing strug­gled with his per­for­mance ever since blast­ing to his first rain­bow jer­sey in 2011.

“Af­ter the year I've had, I could be­lieve it [was pos­si­ble to win],” said Hart. “I've been work­ing hard and this has al­ways been a big goal of mine, but I took the pres­sure off this week. I thought, `Well, I've won the last three World Cups, let's just ride the course and see what hap­pens' . . . . and I took the win.

“The last few months have been mas­sive, be­cause the last five years [since his World ti­tle in 2011] has just been a pain. I'm think­ing `What's go­ing on here? Why can't I get back to it?' And then it all came at once. Just get­ting back to where I was has been a hard mis­sion. All those say­ing I'm a one-hit won­der – well I've done it four times in a row and there's not many done that.”

Three Cana­di­ans were on the start line as Mark Wal­lace put down a strong run, fin­ish­ing 11th, while reign­ing Cana­dian DH cham­pion Kirk Mc­Dow­ell placed 27th and Max Scharf was 50th.

(above) His­toric ju­nior men’s DH Worlds podium (l-r): Mag­nus Man­son (CAN) 2nd, Finn­ley Iles (CAN) 1st, Gae­tan Vigier (FRA) 3rd

(left) Canada's Mi­randa Miller took home a solid 10th-place in the Elite women’s race.

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