Downhill rider Brook Macdonald was the best of the New Zealanders in the third round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Scotland today. The GT Factory Racing professional was 11th on the long and demanding course at Fort William in the shadows of Ben Nevis, in front of a record 25,000 strong crowd. Alanna Columb also finished strongly in the women’s downhill.
After a conservative qualifying run of the men’s downhill, Brook MacDonald from Hawkes Bay claimed the early lead in the competition with his excellent run of 4:44.345. The Kiwi focus went on the colourful Ed Masters (Bergamont Hayes Factory Team) and George Brannigan (Commencal/Vallnord) who qualified an outstanding second and eighth respectively.
However Brannigan crashed heavily on the final jump with the finish line in sight, while Masters fell twice in the top section of the course. They were not alone with local hero and top qualifier Gee Atherton also crashing out on the testing upper section. South African Greg Minnaar showed his experience after a conservative qualifier to claim the win from American Aaron Gwin and Great Britain’s Danny Hart.
National champion Rupert Chapman (Bergamont Hayes Factory Team) was 33rd ahead of Bryn Dickerson 51, Wyn Masters (GT Factory Team) 59, Louis Hamilton 71, Brannigan 74 and Ed Masters 77.
Macdonald has moved into the top 20 on the World Cup standings after three rounds. He joined some 70 riders in a commemorative training ride down the course yesterday to honour former World Cup champion Steve Smith (Canada) who died following an enduro motor bike accident recently.
Meanwhile national champion Alanna Columb finished 14th in the women’s downhill with fellow Kiwi Veronique Sandler 19th in the competition won by the incomparable Rachel Atherton who was 12 seconds faster than second placed Tracey Hannah (AUS).
The competition moves to Austria for the fourth round this weekend.