The second round of the World Cup in Fort William provided some intense racing with plenty of riders leaving the Scottish Highlands with a few bruises, here are five things we noticed from the sidelines:1. The gap is closing in the junior Women's field
Since she began racing World Cups in Losinj last year, Vali Holl has dominated the Junior Women's field winning every race and seeding until Fort William. After a crash in her race run, Holl would forfeit her 9 win streak and American Anna Newkirk took full advantage.
Looking at the times since both Holl and Newkirk began racing last year, it looks like this was on the cards sooner or later though. At both riders' first World Cup race in Croatia Anna Newkirk would cross the line third, 13% off the pace of Holl, from there the time gaps have only got closer, dropping to about 5% by the end of last year. In Maribor this year, Newkirk got even closer and narrowed the gap to 4.6%. Yes, Vali's crash may have helped Anna finally take the top spot and the Austrian prodigy will undoubtedly still be the favourite at every round, but it seems she's going to have to be looking over her shoulder a bit more for the rest of the year.
2. Pierron's Run was Totally Dominant.
After being disappointed with his performance in Maribor, Pierron came into Fort William determined to show his three win streak in 2018 was no fluke. His second place qualifier may not have set the world alight but his race run certainly did. Pierron was fastest through four of the five splits and had a huge winning margin of more than 3.5 seconds, the largest in four years and the biggest at Fort William since Chris Kovarik's legendary run in 2002.
Since Fort William last year, only Martin Maes has broken the French grip on the top step on the World Cup podium and it's not just the Elite men that are dominating. Thibault Daprela has had a powerful control on the Junior series, winning 7 of the 10 races he has competed in. Marine Cabirou is now also a podium regular and once Myriam Nicole is back from injury there will be two fast French women on the heels of Tracey Hannah, Tahnee Seagrave and Rachel Atherton too.
3. Aaron Gwin races in ear plugs
got an interesting tidbit of information out of Aaron Gwin, he races in ear plugs at certain World Cup rounds. This is actually not new for mountain bikers and it used to be a piece of essential equipment for racers in the Mammoth Mountain Kamikazee race back in the day. The idea is simple, the more you deprive your senses, the more you can focus on the track and the job at hand. The downside, as Gwin may have found out, is that you're less likely to notice something like a puncture too, which he suggested may have led to his explosive yard sale in sector 1.
4. Fort William is Still A Track to be Feared.
Although the World Cup has been returning every year to Fort William since 2002, there is always something that catches the riders out. In the previous 2 years it has been the woods section in the middle of the track, but for this year the top section, in combination with some torrid conditions, was the toughest test for riders. The exposed rock gardens and gravel berms are always resurfaced by the Nevis Range trail team each year to try and fill in some of the larger holes but with a few small changes and the washout that was the weather this weekend, it became a real challenge for the worlds best.
Tahnee Seagrave, Gee Atherton, Adam Brayton, Finn Iles and Loic Bruni all suffered crashes before the main race and no one was complaining about the familiarity of the track come Sunday.
5. Brook MacDonald is the Motorway King
It's no secret that the Bulldog is built like a brick outhouse but he showed he can put all that power to good use in Fort William as he powered himself down the motorway half a second faster than anyone else. This is the second year in a row that Brook has recorded the fastest motorway split and he was second fastest down there in 2016 as well. We'd love to strap a power meter to his ride and see exactly how much power the Kiwi can generate at full tilt.
• Track Walk: Highlander - Fort William DH World Cup 2019
• Results: Timed Training - Fort William DH World Cup 2019
• Video: Course Preview with Gee Atherton - Fort William DH World Cup 2019
• Social Roundup: Fort William DH World Cup 2019
• Practice: Some Scottish Weather - Fort William DH World Cup 2019
• Results: Qualifying - Fort William DH World Cup 2019
• Qualifying Photo Epic: No Calm Before a Storm - Fort William DH World Cup 2019
• Inside The Tape: Wet & Wild Lines at the 2019 Fort William World Cup DH
• Final Results: Fort William DH World Cup 2019
• Overall Standings: Fort William World Cup DH 2019
• Cannondale's Split-Shock DH Bike Explained - Fort William DH World Cup 2019
• Finals Photo Epic: All To Play For - Fort William DH World Cup 2019