Fort William is regarded as the spiritual home of downhill and is probably the best-attended downhill round on the World Cup circuit. Fans in their thousands regularly descend on the uncompromising slopes of Aonach Mor and the Nevis Range to watch the world’s elite take on one of the longest tracks in downhill.
The sun greeted the world’s downhill elite as racing got underway at Round 2 of the Mercedes Benz UCI DH World Cup in Fort William, though overnight rain had threatened to change track conditions considerably for the riders. Thankfully, the long and demanding course continued to dry out under the Scottish sun, and the scene was set for an afternoon of drama on the slopes of Aonach Mòr.
There was an unfamiliar name on top of the leader board as the Men’s race entered it final stages in Fort William. Reece Wilson, riding for Commencal 100%, started some way down the field but produced the run of his life to sit in the hot seat. The Scot knew exactly where to find time on a track that he’s very familiar with, having raced both British and Scottish races here.
More accomplished riders followed, but were unable to unseat him. Loïc Bruni, racing in his first World Cup of the season, looked to be closing on Wilson’s time, but time slipped away as he made it down the track. The Frenchman did temporarily slot into second place however.
All eyes on the course then turned to current World Cup points leader, Aaron Gwin. All was going well, with Gwin looking super smooth on the top section of the course. He was up on Wilson’s time, but then disaster struck, as he went down in the new Liberty Boneyard rock section. The American crashed over the ‘bars, but appeared uninjured and remounted quickly. His moment had gone however, and just maybe Wilson was beginning to dream of a miraculous World Cup win.
There were some big names on big bikes still to come down, though. Amaury Pierron, on his Commencal Supreme DH 29er, set a scorching pace out on the course.
The Frenchman made no mistakes during a smooth and stable run, carrying his speed right down to the finish, pedalling like there was no to tomorrow. As he came across the finish line, Pierron had bettered Wilson’s time by over a second.