Fort William round up with the Madison Saracen Team

06 Jun

This weekend saw round 3 of the UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup take place in sunny Fort William, Scotland. As expected, the show was yet again epic and the Madison Saracen team, riding on the excellent Saracen bikes and supported by us here at Animal, put on an epic performance.

In the juniors, it was newly appointed team member Matt Walker who took to the course first. Despite a fractured finger and a solid crash in his practice run, Matt was running for 2nd place in the finals until he suffered a puncture and crashed halfway down the track. He’ll come away with a 26th finish on this occasion and look to regain momentum in the next event.

For Marc Beaumont the event ended after his practice run as he also suffered a puncture and missed out on the final stage. We were all gutted here at HQ as he was running 20th and would have easily made the final had that not happened.

Matt Simmonds wearing the Lockets long sleeve t-shirt in Fort William

Matt Simmonds wearing the Lockets long sleeve t-shirt in Fort William.

Team member Matt Simmonds put on a solid performance throughout the event and managed to climb up to 22nd spot in the final, just 3 seconds away from a top 10 finish! Matt was able to deliver a solid run and we look forward to seeing him tackle Round 4 of the UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup in Leogang this weekend.

Manon Carpenter during practice at the Fort William UCI Downhill World Cup.

Manon Carpenter wears the Fluid Floral tee and Roo hoodie in Fort William.

Manon Carpenter wearing the the Roo hoodie.

The highlight for the Madison Saracen Team this weekend had to be Manon Carpenter, who, after a rad qualifying run, tackled the finals at the top of the leader board. After a solid start, Manon unfortunately mimicked last year’s performance with a nasty crash at the bottom of her race run.

Despite this, she finishes third and puts some solid points towards her world title race and jumps up from 3rd to 2nd, 190 points behind current leader, and round winner in Fort William, Rachel Atherton.

A nail-biting finish to the men’s downhill saw South Africa’s Greg Minnaar hold off a strong challenge from both USA’s Aaron Gwin and Britain’s Danny Hart to win with a time of 4.35.601.

Greg Minnaar said: “It was a really emotional race. The whole event has been emotional and the ghost run put on for Stevie was really special. The team here at Fort William have done a great job, it was such a surprise what they organised to commemorate him.”

“I was a little bit late coming to the start – I thought I had more time prior so I had to calm down and relax so I would ride smooth and fast. I kept thinking I’ve got this win this event. I came in on good time, but I wasn’t sure it was going to hold because some guys came close.”

Manon Carpenter on the podium of the Fort William UCI Downhill World Cup.

“It’s always difficult to win a race when someone crashes like Gee Atherton did – I just want all the guys to get down in one piece and he’s pretty beat up about it. Sitting in the hot seat is such an emotional rollercoaster.”

A touching tribute was made half way through the men’s race to the late Canadian rider Steve ‘Chainsaw’ Smith, who lost his life aged just 26 in May this year riding his motocross bike at home in Canada. An impeccably observed minute’s silence was held across the Fort William course in honour of the multiple UCI World Cup winning rider, who was widely considered to be one of the finest downhill racers on the circuit.

Matt Simmonds close to the finishing line in Fort William.

Crowd favourite and legendary British downhill racer Steve Peat was also honoured in his last ever competitive appearance at the event after announcing his retirement from racing at the end of the current World Cup circuit. With the sun beating down on the Fort William track, the 10,000 thousand strong crowd gave ‘Peaty’ a rousing send-off as he clocked a time of 4.49.859 to finish 29th overall.

Watch the 2016 highlights, featuring Manon's crash, below:

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