Fort William, Scotland showcased the second Downhill (DHI) battle of the season during round four of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano. The longest track of the season once more fulfilled its promise of being one of the toughest and most demanding on the Downhill World Cup calendar and delivered an exciting weekend of racing. The famously fickle weather of the Scottish Highlands also played its part and turned sections of the course into a challenging muddy bog. The women’s race saw Rachel Atherton’s 14-race winning streek come to an end, whilst on the men’s side history was made with a 29-inch wheel bike on top of a UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup podium for the first time. These are the 6 things we have learned from the second DHI world cup of the season:

Fort William 2017 podium

1. Fort William Delivers: Wicked Weather, Frenzied Fans, Emotional Racing
Fort William, nestled in the Scottish Highlands with stunning views of Ben Nevis, delivered on its promise of having the longest, fastest, and most brutal course on the World Cup downhill circuit for the 16th time. The frenzied fans braved the elements – sideways rain, strong winds, midges and sticky mud to watch history being made with some of the gutsiest runs we will see this season.

2. Streak is Over, Rachel Atherton Injured
The reigning Queen of Downhill’s 14-race win streak comes to an end. Rachel Atherton was unable to start due to an injury sustained in a crash in her final practice run before the race resulting in a dislocated shoulder.

3. Tracey Hannah Takes the Win
Tracey Hannah (AUS) risked it all in the extremely difficult, rutted out and muddy wood section – and the risk paid off. Hannah rode to her 3rd World Cup win by a massive 10-second margin ahead of Myriam Nicole (FRA) and Emilie Siegenthaler (SUI). Having finished 2nd in Lourdes 4 weeks prior, Hannah will head to Leogang as the leader of the World Cup series.

Missed the race? Fear not! You can re-watch the entire live-broadcast and all the highlights from Albstadt on-demand and anytime on Red Bull TV!

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Greg Minnaar Fort William 2017

4. Greg Minnaar – Mr. Fort William, Tops the Podium
Australian young-gun Jack Moir backed up his strong 3rd place in qualifications and took 2nd on race day while Aaron Gwin (USA) amazingly came in third despite a crash just before the final section of the track. But not even the heavy rain moving in just prior to his run could slow down Mr. Fort William, Greg Minnaar, from claiming his 20th career World Cup victory. Minnaar has now won the last three consecutive World Cups in Fort William and an amazing total of seven out of the 16 that were held on this track. With his win in Scotland, Minnaar also takes the lead in the overall World Cup standings by a tiny 2-point margin over Marcelo Gutierrez (COL).

5. Difficult Riding Conditions See Favorites Thrown into Mid-Field
After the upset caused by the storm in Lourdes, the conditions on parts of the course in Fort William once again saw riders struggling. The famously fickle Scottish weather graced the weekend with a mix of heavy rain, sunshine, clouds and strong winds and while the majority of the track handled the weather fine, the newly built section in the woods turned into a slippery mess of mud and roots. Many riders including a number of favorites crashed in the new section during qualifications and the race and as a result, riders like reigning World Champion Danny Hart and 2016 top 10 overall rider Luca Shaw now find themselves in the mid-field of the overall ranking and only 5 races left to climb back to the top.

6. 29ers Are Probably Here to Stay
Qualifications at the season opener in Lourdes saw the Santa Cruz Syndicate’s newly developed 29-inch downhill bikes qualifying in 1st, 3rd and 6th but the storm on race day prevented them from proving a race day advantage over the 27.5-inch standard. In Fort William, a total of at least 6 teams showed up with 29ers and 6 of the top 10 qualifiers, including the top 3, were on ‘wagon wheels’. After an intense and thrilling race, Greg Minnaar and Jack Moir rode their 29ers to the top of the podium, taking 1st and 2nd respectively. Love them or hate them, it seems like by the end of this season / beginning of the nexts most riders will be racing on 29-inch wheels.