World Cup downhill leader Greg Minnaar and his main rival Gee Atherton continue to trade victories, with Atherton winning Saturday in Champéry, Switzerland.
Minnaar, from South Africa, and Great Britan’s Atherton (Commençal) have dominated all four speed events so far this season, each with two wins.
Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) excelled this spring at Maribor yet the 25-year-old Briton fought back a month later capturing the mythical event at Fort William, in Scotland early in June. Later on that month, Minnaar was back at the top at Leogang, in Austria, which helped him to reinforce his lead in the World Cup standings.
Champéry’s difficult weather and race conditions seemed to have inspired Atherton, who clocked a strong third best time on Saturday in the qualification run that Minnaar only ended in 15th position.
Despite Atherton’s win at Champery, Minnaar still leads Atherton in the World Cup standings by 13 points.
“It was for sure a tough yet an exciting race,” said Atherton, the 2008 world champion. “It has been a very hard day of work for all of us. We all were struggling but I’m super-pleased with that performance.
“I’m happy that I am so close now to Greg,”
After receiving another UCI leader jersey Minnaar called his result “encouraging” considering he’s never excelled on the course in the past.
“It’s definitely a treacherous course, especially with that heavy mud which made everything very hard for all of us.”
Great Britian’s Brendan Fairclough came in third, just ahead of New Zealand’s Samuel Blenkinsop. Blenkinsop retains his third place in the World Cup standings with 569 points – 59 more than Fairclough.
Emmeline Ragot proved her World Champion status winning round four of the Downhill World Cup at Champery. On a track so muddy some of the women struggled to get the wheels turning, Ragot was top of a podium filled with four French riders. Second-placed Sabrina Jonnier retained the overall lead in the series, while Tracy Moseley was the top placed Brit in fifth. Manon Carpenter finished sixth in another best-ever result confirming her lead in the Junior standings and an interesting progression into the senior ranks.
Only two more races are left in downhill this season prior the UCI Worlds at Mt. Ste Anne, Quebec.