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Chausson, Minnaar fastest in Scottish World Cup DH

World champions became World Cup leaders in the first round of the Downhill World Cup Sunday in Fort William, Scotland. Anne-Caroline Chausson (Commencal-Oxbow) and Greg Minnaar (Team G-Cross Honda) both rode totally new bikes to their victories as well. The 2.66km course required a complete range of skills, with fast, rocky, technical sections at the top, a high-speed section in the middle and a series of jumps spread throughout. Add the constant showers that swept through the region to make slick surfaces, and you had a true World Cup course. Despite not liking the course, Chausson was

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By Rob Jones, Special to VeloNews

Chausson doesn't like the course, but winning always feels good

Chausson doesn’t like the course, but winning always feels good

Photo: Mark Dawson

World champions became World Cup leaders in the first round of the Downhill World Cup Sunday in Fort William, Scotland. Anne-Caroline Chausson (Commencal-Oxbow) and Greg Minnaar (Team G-Cross Honda) both rode totally new bikes to their victories as well.

The 2.66km course required a complete range of skills, with fast, rocky, technical sections at the top, a high-speed section in the middle and a series of jumps spread throughout. Add the constant showers that swept through the region to make slick surfaces, and you had a true World Cup course.

Despite not liking the course, Chausson was the fastest in qualifying, followed by countrywoman Celine Gros (Team Morzine) and Brits Rachel Atherton and Helen Gaskell. The first six riders were all within 8.6 seconds of Chausson, and, given the fact that the most prolific winner in World Cup history has never won at Fort William, odds were favorable for someone other than Chausson to emerge victorious.

In the final, Anneke Beerten set the fast early time of 5:23.13, which held up for five riders until Mio Suemasa knocked 7 seconds off. Suemasa’s time held for 9 riders, when Tracey Moseley (Kona Clarks) took it down by another 4.5 seconds. Moseley barely had time to sit down in the hot seat before Vanessa Quin knocked a further 12 seconds off.

It's all downhill from here

It’s all downhill from here

Photo: Mark Dawson

British pre-race favorite Fion Griffiths crashed, leaving Quin in the lead, but faster riders were coming, and Sabrina Jonnier, sixth from the end, took 4 more seconds off the leading time. Jonnier’s time would hold until Chausson hit the course, and indeed, she was still in the lead at midpoint, with Chausson 0.36 second slower. However, Chausson got faster, much faster, in the lower section, eventually finishing 2.12 seconds ahead of Jonnier.

“I knew that I could go faster (than in qualifying) because we raced in the rain then, and it was drying up for the final,” Chausson said. “It is not my favorite course, because it is super fast in the rocks at the top, and I prefer the slower more technical types of courses. You had to be really fluid at the beginning because you could lose time there, but I became much better in the afternoon, and could ride the (lower) section well.”

Lisa Sher, the lone North American entry, finished 19th.

The men’s final was supposed to have 80 starters, but a new rule states that a rider ranked in the top 20 from the previous race (in this case final rankings from last year) makes the final. Three riders benefited from this rule, including David Vazquez Lopez (Maxxis-MSC), who started second. Vazquez Lopez posted a fast 4:22.07, which stood up for more than three-quarters of the race, before Justin Havukainen managed to knock off a second and a half. Havukainen stayed in the lead for another nine riders, when George Atherton took over.

Atherton was replaced immediately by defending World Cup champion Nathan Rennie, who seemed to be in good position after taking 4 seconds off the leading time. But word came down that Minnaar had posted a split more than 6 seconds faster. While the South African didn’t gain any more time in the second half of the race, he didn’t lose any either, finishing 6.38 seconds ahead of Rennie.

Of the remaining five riders, Cedric Gracia (Siemens Mobile Cannondale) came closest to Minnaar, but he was nearly three and a half seconds slower. Steve Peat (Orange), fastest in qualifying and the favorite of the crowd, looked to be the last chance to dethrone Minnaar, but at the split he was already 3 seconds slower, allowing the Honda team to celebrate a victory in their first World Cup.

“I had a hard time in practice; I think I was trying too hard.” said Minnaar. “In qualifying I was down two seconds at the split, so i knew that in the final I had to ride more on the edge. I rode it really smooth and railed the corners. The only problem was after the split when I hit the waterbar and slid out – I lost a bit there.”

The top North American finisher was Canadian Dustin Adams (Giant) in12th.

Photo Gallery

Results

Results

Men

1. Greg Minnaar (RSA) Team G-Cross Honda , 4:10.24

2. Cedric Gracia (F) Siemens Mobile Cannondale , 4:13.60

3. Samuel Hill (Aus), 4:14.13

4. Steve Peat (GB) Team Orange , 4:14.17

5. Mickael Pascal (F) Maxxis-Msc, 4:14.84

6. Nathan Rennie (Aus), 4:16.62

7. Fabien Barel (F) Kona Clarks Les Gets, 4:17.12

8. George Atherton (GB), 4:19.16

9. Justin Havukainen (Aus), 4:20.47

10. Marc Beaumont (GB) Team Orange , 4:20.76

11. David Vazquez Lopez (Sp) Maxxis-Msc, 4:22.07

12. Dustin Adams (Can), 4:22.66

13. Pascual Canals Flix (Sp), 4:25.21

14. Marcus Klausmann (G) Ghost International Racing, 4:25.89

15. C. Carrick-Anderson (GB), 4:25.94

16. Markolf Berchtold (Bra) Maxxis-Msc, 4:26.36

17. Matti Lehikoinen (Fin), 4:26.45

18. Daniel Atherton (GB), 4:26.86

19. Claudio Caluori (Swi) BeOne-Madhouse, 4:27.15

20. Justin Leov (NZl), 4:27.36

21. Rob Warner (GB), 4:27.57

22. Kris Hargreaves (GB), 4:27.64

23. Nicolas Ortiz (F), 4:28.40

24. Kirt Voreis (USA), 4:28.76

25. Mickael Deldycke (F), 4:28.99

26. Dave Wardell (GB), 4:29.05

27. Yoann Barelli (F), 4:29.50

28. Michal Marosi (Cze), 4:29.70

29. Mathieu Laurin (Can), 4:29.92

30. Ivan Oulego Moreno (Sp), 4:30.16

31. Fabien Pedemanaud (F), 4:30.79

32. Stuart Thomson (GB), 4:31.34

33. Bernat Guardia Pascual (Sp) Commencal-Oxbow, 4:31.39

34. Duncan Riffle (USA), 4:31.40

35. Damien Mermoud (Swi), 4:31.58

36. Ben Reid (Irl), 4:31.82

37. Chris Ball (GB), 4:32.40

38. Thomas Ryser (Swi), 4:32.70

39. Ashley Cross (GB), 4:33.06

40. Nico Vink (B) BeOne-Madhouse, 4:33.33

41. Dan Harper (GB), 4:33.59

42. Robin Baloochi (USA), 4:33.74

43. Espen Johnsen (Nor), 4:33.86

44. Dan Stanbridge (GB), 4:34.44

45. Thomas Braithwaite (GB), 4:34.56

46. Frank Schneider (G), 4:34.65

47. Rudiger Jahnel (A) Arbö Rsp Downhill Racing, 4:34.91

48. Kamil Tatarkovic (Cze), 4:35.02

49. Mathieu Troquier (F) Fusion Mtb Pro Racing Team, 4:35.75

50. Cyrille Kurtz (F) Team G-Cross Honda , 4:35.96

51. Dave Smith (GB), 4:36.19

52. Maciej Jodko (Pol), 4:36.64

52. Romain Saladini (F) Commencal-Oxbow, 4:36.64

54. Jordie Lunn (Can) Specialized Mountain Bike, 4:37.04

55. Jon Cheetham (GB), 4:37.18

56. Rémy Charrier (F), 4:37.23

57. Robert Smith (GB), 4:37.35

58. Will Longden (GB), 4:37.66

59. Neil Donoghue (GB), 4:37.88

60. Andrew Yoong (Irl), 4:38.08

61. Paul Angus (GB), 4:39.29

62. Wilfred Van De Haterd (Ned), 4:39.31

63. Jamie Popham (Irl), 4:39.47

64. Oscar Saiz Castane (Sp), 4:39.58

65. Philip Shucksmith (GB), 4:40.00

66. Mario Jarrin (Ecu) Zenith-Mtb-International, 4:40.20

67. Lee Pincher (GB), 4:40.86

68. John Lawlor (Irl), 4:41.68

69. Richard Cheetham (GB), 4:42.81

70. Mark Johnston (NZl), 4:43.26

71. Simon Parkinson (GB), 4:43.73

72. Iain Cookson (GB), 4:46.93

73. Karlis Kisuro (Lat), 4:47.77

74. Himar Sanchez (Sp), 4:49.94

75. Kyle Strait (USA), 4:55.08

76. Julien Camellini (F), 4:57.57

77. Herman Oelund (Swe), 4:58.83

78. Daniel Critchlow (GB), 4:59.69

79. Glyn O’Brien (Irl), 5:06.07

80. Christopher Marshall (GB), 5:33.60

81. Damien Spagnolo (F), 6:09.69

Women

1. Anne-Caroline Chausson (F) Commencal-Oxbow, 4:53.20

2. Sabrina Jonnier (F), 4:55.32

3. Helen Gaskell (GB), 4:57.86

4. Celine Gros (F) Team Morzine Avoriaz, 4:59.11

5. Vanessa Quin (Nzl), 4:59.55

6. Marielle Saner (Swi) Maxxis-Msc, 5:01.65

7. Rachel Atherton (GB), 5:04.32

8. Tracy Moseley (GB) Kona Clarks Les Gets, 5:11.64

9. Emmeline Ragot (F), 5:13.14

10. Mio Suemasa (Jpn), 5:16.14

11. Anita Molcik (A), Arbo Rsp Downhill Racing Team Linz, 5:17.33

12. Maria Conway (GB), 5:19.96

13. Diana Marggraff (Ecu) Zenith-Mtb-International Racing Team, 5:22.21

14. Nolvenn Le Caer (F), 5:22.45

15. Anneke Beerten (Ned), 5:23.13

16. Amelie Thevoz (Swi), 5:29.94

17. Anja Rees Jones (GB), 5:49.08

18. Violeta Janeiro (Sp), 5:52.65

19. Lisa Sher (USA), 6:02.54

20. Karen Ballentine (GB), 6:08.62

21. Fionn Griffiths (GB), 6:09.34

22. Jules Coventry (GB), 6:17.03

23. Helene Fruhwirth (A), 6:18.93

24. Caroline Mackinlay (GB), 6:54.97

25. Rhian Atherton (GB), 6:56.41

26. Jaymie Mart (GB), 6:56.53

27. Petra Wiltshire (GB), 6:57.81

28. Kirsty Price (GB), 7:17.34

29. Michelle McCartney (Irl), 7:20.07

30. Miriam Blas (Sp), 15:27.05