July 11 2011 | Print Print Page
Gwin and R. Atherton Victorious in Windham
Aaron Gwin Takes Win In Front Of Partisan Home Crowd

All four Trek World Racing downhill riders performed strongly at Round 5 of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Windham, New York in front of a large US crowd on a short and technical track. Neko Mulally (USA) took another solid top 30 result to move up in the rankings, Justin Leov (NZL) had his best result of the year in 6th, just 1/10th of a second off the podium, and Tracy Moseley (GBR) kept her perfect record of being on the podium for every World Cup race in 2011, with a 3rd place.

But it was Aaron Gwin's 4th win of the season that had the fans chanting U-S-A-GWIN at the podium and the city administrators changing the name of host town Windham to ‘Gwindham’ for the remainder of the day, in a flurry of red white and blue flags, that had everyone talking. Aaron's win, after qualifying first on Friday, was the first win on US soil by an American downhiller since both Missy Giove and Shaun Palmer won in Big Bear, California, in 1999. Furthermore, Aaron joins a small group of 3 men who have won 4 Downhill World Cups in one season, the other two being Francois Gachet (FRA) and the legendary Nicolas Vouilloz (FRA).
This was the second time the World Cup has visited Windham and the course certainly had its share of technical content with three major rock garden sections, and running around two and a half minutes in length. The weather was perfect and the crowds built all morning to beat the numbers from 2010. Tracy had qualified 3rd and was hoping to move up to second, but last year's winner Rachel Atherton (GBR) repeated for 2011, and this season's other in-form rider Floriane Pugin (FRA) took 2nd. Tracy maintains the overall lead of the series by 100 points with 2 races to go.

In the men's event, Neko Mulally crossed the line in an incident free run in 6th place with a 2m 32.087secs that ultimately scored him 27th, and now moves him up to 30th overall. Justin Leov qualified in 5th and was feeling great all week on the track. After a flying 1st and 2nd split that had him 4th and 5th, a small error while pushing hard in the lower sector meant he missed the podium by the smallest of margins. Aaron started last and the US crowd held their collective breath until the first split showed on the live giant screen, and when the green light shone with a gap of 2.1secs, the crowd started cheering non-stop until the Californian crossed the line with a 2.3 second win over legend Steve Peat (GBR), who ironically also took 2nd to Shaun Palmer back in 1999.

Aaron said: "The crowd here is amazing. It really means so much to me to win in front of a home crowd. The reaction was nuts. I can't put it into words. Having my parents here was also really special, as they have been such a big part of my entire 2 wheel career. As for my run, it felt very solid. I had two training runs in the morning that felt like great race runs, so I went up to the top feeling that all was set for a good day. It's perfect to have a win when the race run feels great."
Rachel Atherton takes the win in Windham

Replicating her 2010 result on the US stop of the UCI World Cup Series, Rachel Atherton took her Commencal Supreme bike to top honours with a blistering run in Windham today.

The dry and dusty track in New York State was the fifth stop on the World Cup tour and marks a solid return from injury for the young Brit. Rachel who underwent shoulder surgery at the end of 2010 has been super consistent in the World Cups she has raced this year with a second in Scotland and Austria and a third place spot in Canada last weekend, today saw her take it one step further claiming the win with an amazing run in front of a huge US crowd.

Second to last to race, Rachel's first interval time was a huge 3.4 seconds clear of the current leader Tracey Moseley and she managed to keep a similar pace as she rode the lower half, her time of 2.50.029 looked good with just the frenchwoman Floraine Pughin on course. Pughin couldn't get close to Rachel's top section and although she clawed a little back in the mid sector of the course it wasn't enough and Rachel took her first World Cup of 2011 and the ninth of her career. She clawed some points back in the overall and now trails leader Tracey Moseley by 260 points, a large gap but one that isn't out of Rachel's reach.

The rest of the Atherton clan didn't have the best of weekends, current third seed in the mens series Gee couldn't put a fast enough run together to get in the mix today. He was disappointed with 11th spot and was left perplexed at his finishing position having what he felt was a solid run. He remains in third spot overall and hopes to turn things around for the next round in August.

Dan Atherton will also be glad to prove his worth in France next month after he couldn't get to grips with the fast and loose track here in Windham, he slipped into 71st spot amongst a stacked field.

The team now travels to Whistler, Vancouver for the Crankworx festival where they will compete in numerous events ahead of the final few stops of the World Cup tour.

Atherton Photos: Sven Martin