Fort William World Cup 2016

Fort William 2016.  Photo: Ian Lean

Fort William 2016. Photo: Ian Lean

So, I am just back from an amazing 4 days in sunny (honestly!!) Fort William where I was working at the UCI Downhill World Cup.  I was really excited about the weekend as it was my first World Cup that I would be attending as a coach, rather than as a spectator.  On a personal and professional level this was a really big deal and marks a milestone for MTB Strength Factory.

My main focus for the weekend was Charlie Hatton riding for team Wideopenmag in the Junior category.  Charlie was coming into the race on a solid run of form, having just won the BDS at Bala and with a podium at Fort William BDS just a few weeks earlier.  We all know that Charlie is capable of winning a Junior World Cup and the team worked hard to put everything in place to help him do so.

Over the weekend I would also be working with Veronique Sandler (Vero), riding in the Women’s field, Duncan Ferriss racing 4X for DMR Bikes and randomly ended up helping out long term MTB Strength Factory rider Monet Adams as she also got roped into some last minute 4X action!

Saturday saw massive crowds, brutally hot weather and a dusty, wild mammoth of a track for qualification.  Both my DH riders put down storming runs with Charlie coming down in 2nd, less than a second behind Finn Illes and with plenty left in the tank.  Vero also put down a solid run to secure 15th in qualification, securing her place in the finals for Sunday.

After the DH had finished on Saturday, the 4X Pro Tour kicked off. The track was a true MTB track, rough and loose with some great features.  Dunc put in a smooth first moto, finishing second and progressing on to the quarter finals with being pushed too hard.  Unfortunately and despite a good gate he was then knocked out in the quarters, getting over taken on the inside of the last corner.  I know that Dunc was gutted, but that is racing!  He still rode well all week and was feeling strong despite a niggling shoulder injury sustained in a crash earlier this year.

Women’s 4X seems to be struggling a bit and with only 3 entrants it was going to be cancelled unless a few more ladies stepped to race.  Thankfully, 3 brave women ‘volunteered’ including Monet and the race was on!  There would only be 2 semis and then the final due to the small size of the field.  Monet easily won her semi, leading from the gate on a borrowed bike, wearing jeans and a borrowed lid too.  In the final she would be up against the world champ and a seriously good 4X rider from Germany called Steffi Marth.  Monet was stoked to take a comfortable second place overall and a big fat cheque that will help her go to Crankworx this summer.

Sunday saw even bigger crowds and an amazing atmosphere.  After warming up and doing some mental focussing drills together I took Charlie to the start hut for his finals run.  Dropping in, he was flying.  Fully committed and looking confident on his bike I though that this would be his day.  Sadly a puncture ruined it just as he entered the woods and he limped down the track to the roars of the crowd chanting his name and with sparks flying off his knackered rim!  The team are gutted, but still full of confidence for the next round in Leogang.

Finally, Vero would drop in for her run.  She looked committed and stylish in the top section until she made a mistake and ran off the track, costing her vital seconds.  In the end she finished in a very respectable 19th, her best result for some time and she is also on the road to Leogang feeling hungry for a better result.

Overall it was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to travel to more world cups with my athletes in the future.  We all learnt a lot, grew closer as a team and are walking away from the Fort with our heads held high.

Stay Strong

Ben

New Athlete: Liz Fowler, Current 4X National Champ.

Photo Credit: Adam Richardson

Photo Credit: Adam Richardson

I am really happy to announce that last week I started working with Liz Fowler, the reigning Women’s 4X National Champion, who also represented team GB at the Worlds in Leogang this summer.  She is going to be going into the 2015 season fitter and stronger than ever and has set some high goals for herself, so watch this space!