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In the first gauge of true speed and fitness for the 2013 World Cup Downhill series,  Danny Hart (Giant Factory Off-Road) and Rachel Atherton (GT Factory Racing) proved they were the fastest on the mountain during qualifying at Fort William.

As the riders dropped in, Gee Atherton came down over 8-seconds ahead of Aaron Gwin (Specialized Racing) and Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate), the odds-on favorites at Fort William. Minnaar and Gwin may have been playing it casual, but it seemed like Gee was truly more prepared than the rest of the field until Danny Hart crossed the line just .167 ahead of Gee with a 4:41.094. As more riders completed their runs, Greg and Gwin were bumped surprisingly further down the results list.

Sam Blenkinsop, Mick Hannah (who had the fastest time at the first split) and Steve Smith all posted smoking-fast runs and rounded out the top five, leaving a race day win completely open to anyone's guess.

Riders hit over 60kph in the speed trap on the rugged Fort William course with Scott Mears earning the fastest speed of the day at 61.71kph. Interestingly enough, Sam Blenkinsop, Mick Hannah and Cam Cole all came through the speed trap with identical numbers for 2nd-fastest, 60.891kph.

Rachel Atherton, who has never won a World Cup at Fort William, put a solid dent in the women's field, over 6-seconds ahead of 2nd place, Emmeline Ragot.

Taylor Vernon (GT Factory Racing) proved he's ready to run with the big boys by posting up a 4:54.689, fastest of the Junior Men's category by 2.4-seconds in their seeding runs. Taylor's time would have positioned him in the low 30's in the Elite Men's qualifying field.

EDIT: As we look over the results we're noticing things.

  • Duncan Philpott just wrote about some of the notes below - "Bryceland crashed right in front of me," and "puncture for Nick Beer. Riders with punctures were encouraged to quite the course hence all the DNFs."
  • Josh Bryceland didn't make top 80, but with the #7 plate, he should be protected and racing finals. Something happened between his first and 2nd split. He was 17th at 1st split, then 91st at the 2nd split. He finished 88th overall.
  • Bernard Kerr, Nick Beer, Fabien Cousinie, Jay Williamson and Nico Vink were all DNF. We hope they're doing ok. Nick Beer was 9th at 1st split, then 151 at 2nd split and must not have crossed the line. He was ranked 27th, so he's not protected. Bummer.
  • Marc Beaumont had 5th fastest first split time.
  • Matt Simmonds had the 10th fastest 1st split time.
  • Cedric Gracia, cutting it freaking close! 79th...phew.
  • Harry freaking Heath, 11th!
  • Harry Malloy who ended up finishing 121st was 11th place in split 1 and 2. Wonder what happened?

Danny Hart with his Giant Glory race bike.

Elite Men's Top 80 Qualifying Times at Fort William - FULL RESULTS (PDF)





Elite Women's Top 10 Qualifying Times - full Women's results (PDF)


Junior Men's Top 10 Seeding Run Times - full results (PDF)


Now is the time to place your Vital OTB prediction if you have not already. You can win a RockShox BoXXer World Cup and Vivid rear shock. Remember, if you have made a prediction, edits are NOT allowed!

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