Madison Saracen Factory Team star Manon Carpenter produced the run of the day as she powered her way to her first ever World Cup win in the women’s Downhill at the first UCI MTB World Cup, presented by Shimano, ahead of fellow Brit and current World Champion, Rachel Atherton at the Cascades MTB Park on Saturday, ending a week of total domination of the women’s downhill competition.
With a major challenger in Emmeline Ragot picking up a puncture during her run, effectively ruling her out of contention, it was always going to be a race between the two British riders and it was the young Welshwoman that was too fast for Atherton – who was battling with illness all week.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season because I was really stressed coming into this race so I am just really glad that I managed to pull it off today,” an elated Carpenter said. “I was feeling good after practice yesterday and then it got really loose at the top and bits were getting blown out so I was nervous and I had a few moments so I said that I didn’t want to do that in my race run but I’m just glad I got a smooth run in.”
Having missed out on a chance at the World Championships at the same venue last year following an unfortunate crash Carpenter was determined to make up for that when she returned this week and she produced the performance of the weekend to claim the series leader’s jersey by four seconds.
“I really like this track, I crashed at the World Champs last year which I was gutted about because I thought that I had a chance so I was looking forward to coming back here and it is nice that it is the first race and a nice one to start on so I feel good for the rest of the season!” the Swansea resident added positively.
Having been on a drip a day before qualifying, GT Factory Racing’s Rachel Atherton bit the bullet and rode to a determined second in the women’s downhill final after she was a doubtful starter earlier in the week.
“I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to be able to race this weekend, the doctor here was amazing and he really sorted me out,” a satisfied Atherton explained. “It has been a tough fight and a long weekend but I am absolutely stoked that I could come away with second place it is beyond what I imagined I could do and it completely blew my mind!”
Atherton proved her pedigree after she battled the flu during the week and only having one day of training again proved that she is a deserved World Champion after having to rely a lot on her memory of the course from the only other time she had ridden it seven months ago.
“Having missed that first day of practice and then going into the qualifying yesterday just thinking that I have to ride the track that I know what I am doing and just kind of pretend a little bit and I remembered the course so well from World Champs last year so I just went out there and just had to do what I had to do!” she concluded proudly.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – 2014 UCI MTB WORLD CUP PIETERMARITZBURG, PRESENTED BY SHIMANO
1. Manon Carpenter (Madison Saracen Factory Team) 4:34.923
2. Rachel Atherton (GT Factory Racing) 4:38.831
3. Jill Kintner 4:44.041
4. Myriam Nicole (Commencal/Riding Addiction) 4:44.651
5. Emmeline Ragot (Lapierre Gravity Republic) 4:44.662
6. Tracey Hannah (Hutchinson UR) 4:48.045
7. Tahnee Seagrave (FMD Racing) 4:52.285
8. Morgane Charre (Evil Vengeance Tour) 4:52.400
9. Emilie Siegenthaler (GSTAAD-Scott) 4:58.117
10. Fionn Griffiths 5:00.973