Atherton-siblings and their team-mates currently dominate the Downhill and Enduro scene
For several years, the German tire manufacturer Continental and the GT Factory Racing Team enjoy a successful partnership, which is bearing fruit in this season that even the Garden of Eden would have been envious. While Rachel and Gee are happily tearing up the Downhill scene, brother Dan shines in the Enduro series. The team’s young guns, Martin Maes and Taylor Vernon are also drawing attention due to their sportive achievements. No matter whether Enduro or Downhill: the whole Atherton team trusts in Conti’s BlackChilli Compound made in Germany – the success speaks for itself!
There is hardly any doubt that the Atherton family is a kind of bike dynasty. Their engagement, their great expertise and the indisputable success have deeply influenced the world of mountain biking. But the 2013 season has taken their name and the skill associated with, to a whole new level – essentially crowning them as rulers of the dirt. Week after week we read about another Atherton podium place here, a Rachel victory there or even a double victory such as in June for incredible three times. Last weekend it ‘happened’ again: At the third UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Downhill stop in Vallnord (Andorra) Rachel Atherton proved once again that she is the measure of all things in women’s downhill racing right now. Only her hardest rival, Saracen team rider Manon Carpenter, was able to keep up the pace on her Continental tires, finishing behind with a marginal 1.5 seconds gap. The rest of the rider field took more than 10 seconds longer to complete the gnarly track in Vallnord. For brother Gee it was the first World Cup stop this season standing at the right of the top spot with a second place. Rémi Thirion from France was everyone’s surprising winner with an unbelievably run, 1.35 seconds faster than Gee.
At the last two World Cup stops, Gee and Rachel triumphed without a flinch: dominating the podium with back-to-back “double double” victories at both Fort William and the Italian Val di Sole –this is real downhill dominance!
The youngest member of the GT Racing herd, 17-year-old Taylor Vernon is stirring things up in the junior category. After impressive podiums in the British Downhill Series (1st place at Somerset, 2nd place at Fort William and 2nd place at Llangollen) he had a bad crash in Val di Sole and is now forced to stay off the saddle for roughly six months. In view of all success in this season, his premature retirement is a great disaster not least because he showed real potential for the junior downhill title.
When asked whether it is not boring to send out winning press releases on a weekly basis, team manager Dan Brown answered: “Could be worse! No, seriously I am really proud of all team members. Everyone is in perfect shape and highly motivated to give everything. All of these victories are only the logical consequence of our constant work, hard training and intense preparation. Now I can only hope for an injury-free rest of the saison and help our injured team members to recover quickly from their contusions.”
While Rachel and Gee rush down the mountains, brother Dan has clocked up the victories in Enduro. Kicking off with a win at the UK Gravity Series in South Wales in March, where he was the fastest in all six stages, and also later on in July, when he finished third at the notorious Megavalanche. Unfortunately, a dislocated shoulder will keep him off his bike for the next couple of weeks.
The new Enduro team member Martin Maes from Belgium is maybe the youngest but he has shown his remarkable riding skills. So far, the young gun has placed third at the MéTaBief Enduro Open, fourth at the Enduro World Series in Punta Ala, first place at the Val d’Allos junior competition and second at the Enduro World Series in the French resort, Les Deux Alpes. We will definitely hear many success stories from the modest 16 years old Enduro rider.
What is the secret of their success? The GT Factory Racing Team is similar to a Formula 1 engine: Everything is tuned for high performance, but the output can only be maximized when everything works in perfect harmony: The riders, the team manager, the mechanics, the Physiotherapists and the equipment. Facing these extreme strains, disciplines like downhill mountain biking are immensely dependent on the quality of the equipment. Particularly the tires can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Therefore, the GT Factory Team gets their rubber from Continental. While cutting corners may be a strategy for athletes, but it is not for Conti. This is why their tires are reliable and durable: "The Mud King and Kaiser project tires have been amazing all season, we've had very little issue in getting them set up to suit each track. The BlackChilli compound is the perfect solution for such variable terrain", comments team mechanic Piotr „Pistol Pete“ Michaliszyn.
Continental is crossing their fingers and wishes the team all the best for the remaining season, many more podium places and a lot of grip on their way (down)!
For additional information concerning Continental’s involvement within the bicycle industry, please go to www.conti-fahrradreifen.de