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FORT WILLIAM GETS THE GRAVITY ACTION UNDERWAY IN THE 2024 WHOOP UCI MOUNTAIN BIKE WORLD SERIES

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FORT WILLIAM GETS THE GRAVITY ACTION UNDERWAY IN THE 2024 WHOOP UCI MOUNTAIN BIKE WORLD SERIES

1 month ago

After an epic start to the Endurance action in Brazil, where we saw more than 65,000 spectators bring a carnival of colour and noise to the courses of Mairiporã and Araxá, the 2024 WHOOP UCI Mountain Bike World Series crosses the Atlantic, kicking off the European action with the first of its Gravity races at Scotland’s legendary Fort William course. 

Set in the Nevis Range in the western Scottish Highlands, the opening UCI Downhill (DHI) World Cup of the season will be the polar opposite in terms of climate and conditions from the series’ first two action-packed weekends, but its location is sure to attract a hardcore partisan crowd who are guaranteed to bring the noise all weekend. 

 

ICONIC COURSE 

Fort William has been hosting UCI Mountain Bike World Cups since 2002 and has been the setting of some of the most iconic moments in downhill mountain biking history. One of the longest courses (2.8km) on the UCI DHI World Cup circuit, it pits competitors against a brutal, energy-sapping race run, while unpredictable and changeable conditions can often lead to some surprising results. 

Last year, it hosted the 2023 UCI Downhill World Championships, where Britain’s Charlie Hatton (Continental Atherton) and Austria’s Valentina Höll (YT Mob) came away with the rainbow stripes for the first and second time respectively. 

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland Director of Events, said: Scotland is the perfect stage for events and EventScotland is proud to be continuing its support of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Fort William. Following the success of the Mountain Bike Downhill at the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, this years World Cup will provide the ideal opportunity once again come together and share a memorable experience as the worlds best riders battle it out for victory on the iconic Nevis Range course.” 

 

EARLY SEASON MOMENTUM 

There hasn’t been a UCI DHI World Cup since the season finale in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada, last October, so Fort William will be the first indicator of who has had a good off-season. In the women’s field, Valentina Höll remains the rider to beat, having won four out of eight UCI DHI World Cups last season in addition to the UCI Downhill World Championships. Her winter break hasn’t been seamless – seeing Höll move to the YT Mob for 2024 – although having ridden a YT during her junior career with SRAM TLD Racing, it won’t be a completely new experience for the 22-year-old. 

Snapping at Höll’s heels are Nina Hoffman (Santa Cruz Syndicate), Marine Cabirou (Scott Downhill Factory) and Monika Hrastnik (Dorval AM Commencal), while Camille Balanche (Dorval AM  

Commencal) and Myriam Nicole (Commencal/Muc-Off by Riding Addiction) will be looking to make up for lost time after missing the bulk of 2023 through injuries. For the home crowd, hopes will be pinned on Tahnée Seagrave (Canyon CLLCTV FMD) returning to winning ways on Scotland’s storied course, while Louisa-Anna Ferguson (Intense Factory Racing) and Phoebe Gale (Canyon CLLCTV FMD) both finished on the podium at last year’s UCI Downhill World Championships. 

For the men, Charlie Hatton will be hoping to repeat his feat in front of a home crowd, but there will be plenty in the field looking to pip him to the hot seat. Last season's UCI Downhill World Cup Champion Loïc Bruni (Specialized Gravity) has already shown some early season momentum with a podium spot in March’s Portugal Cup, and the flying Frenchman will be looking to break his duck at the Scottish course.  

The biggest cheer of the day is sure to go to Reece Wilson (Trek Factory Racing), as the Scotsman is back and looking ready for racing after two years plagued by injury. Others to watch out for include Laurie Greenland (Santa Cruz Syndicate) and Amaury Pierron (Commencal/Muc-Off by Riding Addiction) – who is returning to racing after sustaining an injury at the UCI Downhill World Cup in Lenzerheide, Switzerland last June.  

And we can’t rule out Greg Minnaar (Norco Factory Racing), the 42-year-old veteran and seven-time winner in Fort William. An ever-present of the UCI World Cup circuit since making his debut in 1997, the G.O.A.T is also the focus of a new documentary ‘Not Done Yet’, which follows Minnaar’s quest to end his career on an all-time high. The 45-minute film is premiering globally at an event that Minnaar is attending in person in Fort William tonight (Tuesday, April 30), while it will be broadcast on the Pan European channels of Eurosport today at 5:30pm CET and on Eurosport UK at 9pm BST tomorrow (Wednesday, May 1). 

One rider who won’t be making the trip to Scotland is last year’s second-place finisher in the Downhill overall Jackson Goldstone (Santa Cruz Syndicate) – the 20-year-old Canadian out for an undetermined amount of time after injuring his knee in February. 

Racing gets underway in Fort William on Saturday with qualifiers – full schedule and events details are available here. 

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