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Back to Bedrock: Practice - Fort William DH World Cup 2016

Jun 4, 2016
by Nathan Hughes  


A little morning fog and a harsh chill in the air had us questioning what today's weather would bring, but as soon as the sun broke over the ridge it was nothing but blue skies and red necks until close of play. It's been a month-long world cup hiatus and first practice seems to have already made plain who's been on the gas, training and racing hard over the interval and whose been floating around the lake on a lilo with one too many pina coladas in hand.

Danny Hart is no stranger to success here, having previously ridden to two second place finishes in the Highlands, but it appears he has somehow found an extra gear out in the dust, making lines happen at speeds that currently aren't working for anybody else. Once again 'winning' the TT, it seems Danny better prepared than ever before to go all the way this year. Meanwhile Rachel Atherton is already showing signs of her intentions to etch her name into Fort William stone for a third time, although her record up north maybe less perfect than other world cup haunts.

This evening as the midge bites start to itch there's plenty for the riders to think about and not much time to find the miracle solution to spruce their runs before qualifiers fire up and points and pride are on the line.



John Hall polishes the 1 rig of Aaron Gwin ahead of timed training.
Mob mechanic, John Hall, polishes the #1 rig of Aaron Gwin ahead of the timed training session.

All dressed up for a party but with no where go... Loic Bruni s Specialized sits all alone in the pits this weekend.
All dressed up for a party but with no one to go with... Loic Bruni's Specialized sits all alone in the pits this weekend.

Ratboy keeps watch in the pits as his V-10 gets prepped for another day of rock smashing in Fort William.
Ratboy keeps watch in the pits as his V-10 gets prepped for another day of rock smashing in Fort William.

Mitch Ropelato chilling in the pits and staying out of the heat here in Fort William.
Mitch Ropelato chilling in the pits and staying out of the Scottish heat.

It was a lovely spring moring that greeted us for first runs today.
It was a lovely spring morning that greeted us for first runs today.

Early morning mountain hikes to our favorite photo spots. With an umbrella and every other bit of gear we have. You never know it is Fort William.
Early morning mountain hikes to our favorite photo spots. With an umbrella, and every other bit of gear we have. You never know, it is Fort William.

All day long and by all accounts from people stood trackside Danny Hart was absolutely flying on track. Fastest in timed training proved our theory and it s obvious he is hungrier than ever for his first ever WC win this weekend.
All day long, and by all accounts from people stood trackside, Danny Hart was absolutely flying on track. Fastest in timed training proved our theory and it's obvious he is hungrier than ever for his first ever WC win this weekend.

Rachel Atherton was ten seconds and change faster than second place Manon Carpenter in timed training.
Rachel Atherton was ten seconds and change faster than second place Manon Carpenter this afternoon and is already looking poised for her 3rd Fort William victory.

Martin Maes was in A group practice today and he looked damn fast. We are very curious to know how will he go this year at Fort William.
Martin Maes was in A group practice today, and he looked damn fast. We are very curious to know how will he go this year at Fort William.

Brendan Fairclough will be the first to tell you he doesn t love smashing rocks all weekend but if timed training means anything it seems he s getting on just fine.
Brendan Fairclough will be the first to tell you he doesn't love smashing rocks all weekend, but if timed training means anything it seems he's getting on just fine.

Fort William DH World Cup 2016 image
Portugal's Francisco Pardal 'winning' the early morning Group B session, super pinned through the sweeping turns up top.

George Brannigan found the smoothest way through the rocks. George was eighteenth fastest in timed training.
George Brannigan found the smoothest way through the rocks... high and dry.

Luca Shaw dips in for a long lap in the first practice session.
Luca Shaw dips in for a long lap in the first practice session.

Fort William DH World Cup 2016 image
Some riders cruised, while Mark Beaumont decided to go and rip out some throats to set the 5th fastest lap. A huge comeback is maybe on the cards.

Troy Brosnan is certainly a danger man here in Fort William. He could be giving Gwin a run for his money.
Troy Brosnan has won here before and his light and smooth riding style seems to carry a ridiculous amount of speed through the rough sections up top.

Mike Jones takes a look down on his way up.
Mike Jones takes a look down on his way up.

Finn Iles had a bad crash in Cairns that put him out of the running there but he is looking solid here in Fort Bill.
Finn Iles is looking solid here in Fort Bill after missing Cairns through unjury.

Finn Iles had a massive crash in practice today. Luckily his head is okay as is his Steve Smith replica helmet since he rode practice in his backup lid.
Later in the day Iles took a massive crash, but luckily his head is okay, as is his Steve Smith replica helmet since he rode practice in his backup lid.

Greg Minnaar took a few runs to get warmed up but by the day s mid point he was charging hard. As the winningest rider in Fort William you d be a fool not to expect him somewhere on the podium come Sunday.
Greg Minnaar took a few runs to get warmed up, but by the day's mid point he was charging hard. As the winningest rider in Fort William you'd be a fool not to expect him somewhere on the podium come Sunday.

Ratty looked to be cruising today but no doubt he ll be throwing gas on the fire come Sunday.
Ratty looked to be cruising today, but no doubt he'll be throwing gas on the fire come Sunday.

Time between group and B practice was well spent with some fresh brewed coffee.
Time between group A and B practice was well spent with some fresh brewed coffee.

Tahnee Seagrave has a bit of an arm injury but she was holding on today in practice.
Tahnee Seagrave has a bit of an arm injury, and was only just managing to hold on today in practice.

Manon Carpenter was second fastest in timed training today.
Manon Carpenter will surely be after a little retribution after last year and was second fastest in timed training today.

Fort William DH World Cup 2016 image
Full disregard for his poor old Gambler, Brendog was giving it hell hucking gaps on every straight.

Fort William DH World Cup 2016 image
Check some lines, catch your breath.

Fort William DH World Cup 2016 image
Markus Pekoll looked confident in the dust and will be looking to build on his previous Fort Bill best of 14th.

Fort William DH World Cup 2016 image
Cloud-free skies and a view that never gets old.

After scoring his first career podium here last year Marcelo Gutierrez is looking for more of the same this weekend. With a 3rd in timed training he looked to be on the right track thus far.
After scoring his first career podium here last year, Marcelo Gutierrez is looking for more of the same this weekend. With a 3rd in timed training he looks to be on the right track thus far.

Fort William DH World Cup 2016 image
Radon's Carina Cappellari fresh off a good run at the IXS cup rounds in Europe last month.

Fort William DH World Cup 2016 image
Mark Wallace was out giving the rocks the chainsaw treatment all afternoon.

Steve Peat goes full plaid and argyle for his last WC race in Fort William.
Steve Peat goes full plaid and argyle for his last WC race in Fort William.

Fast and loose is the only way Sam Blenkisop knows.
Fast and loose is the only way Sam Blenkinsop knows.

Sam Blenkinsop was looking solid today in practice. he was tenth fastest in training. No doubt he will be looking to trade that 41 plate in for something a bit lower.
Sam Blenkinsop was looking solid today in practice and no doubt he'll be looking to trade that 41 plate in for something a bit lower.

Laurie Greenland making some shapes as he charges down the track.
Laurie Greenland making some shapes as he charges down the track.

Ratboy smashing rocks and lighting it up on the dry and dusty track right from the get go.
Ratboy smashing rocks and lighting it up on the dry and dusty track right from the get go.

Brook MacDonald smashed his way through practice today. He was seventh fastest in timed training. He had a couple crashes along the way but it s the Bulldog. He ll be fine.
Brook MacDonald smashed his way through practice today coming 7th fastest in timed training. He had a couple crashes along the way, but it's the Bulldog. He'll be fine.

Fort William DH World Cup 2016 image
Still got it. Warner does one of those, err... wheelie thingers perfectly.

Morgane Charre fast and focused through the dust corners up top.
Morgane Charre fast and focused through the dust corners up top.

Tahnee was in quite a bit of pain to start the day but still managed to get 4 runs in. She said she is still questionable for racing come Sunday but we have our fingers crossed.
Tahnee was in quite a bit of pain to start the day but still managed to get 4 runs in. She said she is still questionable for racing come Sunday but we have our fingers crossed.

Fort William DH World Cup 2016 image
Remi Thirion full beans as ever, it's hard to imagine his best ever Fort William WC result is actually just 10th.

Tracey Hannah looks smooth and confident with the loose and dusty surface definitely playing to her favor more than the usual Fort William muck and mud.
Tracey Hannah looks smooth and confident, with the loose and dusty surface definitely playing to her favor more than the usual muck and mud found here.

Mick Hannah pinned and sporting the 5. After crashing and breaking bones one day one the past two years he was all smiles this afternoon sitting healthy in the pits to close out the day.
Mick Hannah pinned and sporting the #5. After crashing and breaking bones on day one the past two years, he was all smiles this afternoon, sitting healthy in the pits to close out the day.

Fort William DH World Cup 2016 image
Needles has never taken a top 10 at the Fort over the years, but was out to start putting wrongs to right during practice.

Aaron Gwin wasn t really showing his cards today. We will just have to wait and see how he goes tomorrow.
Aaron Gwin wasn't really showing his cards today, we'll just have to wait and see how he goes in the familiar dust tomorrow.

Fort William DH World Cup 2016 image
Marcello Gutierrez managed to land on the podium here last time and clearly means business this year too, stomping 3rd fastest TT this afternoon.

Fort William DH World Cup 2016 image
Gee Atherton got pipped by Hart at the BDS and it was the same story this afternoon, but of course he's still absolutely hauling. A Fort Bill hatrick hangs in the balance.

Fort William DH World Cup 2016 image
While the lift's still running, Danny will keep on riding, pushing harder every lap.

With the absence of Loic Bruni this weekend could we see another top ride from his very capable teammate Loris Vergier.
With the absence of Loic Bruni this weekend, could we see another top ride from his very capable teammate, Loris Vergier.

Fort William DH World Cup 2016 image
Bernard Kerr going HAM down the bedrock staircase at close of play for a rapid TT.

Despite not having the dominant winning history here in Fort William that you d expect Rachel Atherton is definitely the one to beat this weekend.
Despite not having the dominant winning history here in Fort William that you'd expect, Rachel Atherton is definitely the one to beat this weekend.

Some ominous weather was rolling in across the valley by late afternoon but the forecast still looks clear.
Some ominous weather was rolling in across the valley by late afternoon, but the forecast still looks clear.

Fort William DH World Cup 2016 image
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Potentially. We'd be stoked to see it happen.

Today s fastest bike basking in the last rays of daylight as we headed home after a long day on the hill in Fort William.
Today's fastest bike basking in the last rays of daylight as we wrap a long day on the hill in Fort William.

There s a little Steve Smith everywhere you look this weekend.
There's a little Steve Smith everywhere you look this weekend.

Hold it wide and let it slide is Eddie Master s motto no matter what he s riding.
Hold it wide and let it slide is Eddie Master's motto no matter what he's riding.

Phil Atwill keeps it laid back and casual on his way out of the pits.
Phil Atwill keeps it laid back and casual on his way out of the pits.

The Media center is full to max and sucking the Fort William area dry of bandwith.
While the riders played the media centre was full to max and sucking the Fort William area dry of bandwith.

Fort William DH World Cup 2016 image
There's still time to pack the car and make it up to the Highlands! Your headwear awaits you.... While stocks last.

Fort William DH World Cup 2016 image
A soothing sunset view over Fort William's Loch Linnhe. Stay calm, qualies coming right up...


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52 Comments
  • 135 0
 I wish we could up vote the photographers because they need some serious props for the coverage I'm seeing. Love it.
  • 41 1
 HART ATTACK !! uuuuuuuuh
  • 4 0
 I'm rooting for the moustache tomorrow.
  • 2 4
 Anyone know when Danny made the complete switch of suspension ? FOX is the best ! I'm guessing that's the real reason Danny is feeling comfortable and slealthy as hell. I can't recall but I'm positive he wasn't riding COmplete FOX suspension at the begging of the World Cup 2016...
GO Danny

AAron Gwin please bring Gold Back HOME!!!!!
  • 2 0
 Near enough straight after zocci got bought out by fox which made fox the team sponsor
  • 26 2
 Where's my boy Sam Hill??
  • 1 0
 Exactly??
  • 34 2
 Writing his victory speech
  • 12 0
 Training for enduro x)
  • 3 8
flag RedBurn (Jun 4, 2016 at 5:10) (Below Threshold)
 Stopped downhill to go full enduro and click pedals Just looking for to make the most neg propped comment ever
  • 19 0
 "scottish heat"

sounded funny in my head
  • 12 0
 I ride Minions too so why can't I be fast like them?
  • 12 0
 Do you have brand new matching kit?
  • 1 0
 Even with 30psi, they're still faster than you?
  • 10 0
 You think Warner dyes his beard every day ?

I mean he never has grey roots !
  • 2 0
 New 'Just for Men' ad campaign in the future?
  • 6 0
 I think that GT rider is Sam Dale instead of Martin Maes. Or that's Martin in Sam Dale's Jersey?
  • 5 0
 DH WC FTW!!! Woooooooooooo for acronyms!! Wooooo for rad times on bikes! Someone make me nachos!
  • 1 0
 Woooooooo!!!!
  • 5 0
 Discovered Danny's secret to the new found speed. Now sponsored by WD-40.
Goes like greased lightning Wink
  • 6 1
 Where the f--k! Is Hill??????? Ahhhhhhh cmon!!
  • 1 0
 Exactly what I was thinking!
  • 3 2
 I hope Hill makes some ground up towards the podium here but Danny taking the win would be a long time coming....

Ratboy actually looks cramped on that bike now when you look at things after the whole sizing article, surely on such a fast and rough track a longer / larger bike would be better, I mean the VitalMTB raw footage scares the crap out of me!
  • 1 0
 I love the track but I wish we could see something different... Maybe a new lower part or a new section in the upper part? They changed the woods, okay, but we never get to see it during the races or in the pictures... I still like to watch fort william but it is less exciting than seeing these guys ride brand new tracks!
  • 1 0
 I kind of agree with that but take a look at the VitalMTB raw footage - Its unreal how fast the guys are getting through that rough upper/mid section nowdays!
  • 1 0
 @Racer951: Well... Still.
I love these fresh sections that makes these guys scratch their heads... That's what interest me when I watch the Vital Raws: you see all these guys on the side watching the other ones take fresh lines and you're like "wow..."
I guess once you've got your line in fort william it does not change much from one year to another...

Whatever...
  • 3 0
 Reckon the aussies are gonna kill it if it stays dry !
Where's Hill. Under the radar!???
  • 2 0
 Hope so. He's obviously fit and capable of a win
  • 4 0
 Ghost ride Bruni's bike and it'll still make top ten!
  • 2 0
 Jimmy Hats. lol Well here's a jimmy joke about your mamma that you might not like.
  • 3 0
 Seeing Loic's demo all alone breaks my heart /3 C'mon Danny
  • 2 0
 OH YES this is shaping up to be a cracker
  • 2 0
 Hoping for a Carpenter win to liven the ladies' competition up!
  • 1 0
 Awesome coverage! One question though didn't Hart win one of the most epic muddy WC DHs in 2011?
  • 2 0
 Marcelo's time to shine!
  • 2 0
 Need downhill on now!!
  • 1 0
 Jimmy hats..... Lol 90's hip hop
  • 1 0
 Is it me or does gwin look to be running minions in the first picture.
  • 1 0
 Is this the first world cup race for Ropelato on a Santa Cruz bike?
  • 1 0
 gwin should change his tire sponsor ... looks like maxxis again.
  • 1 0
 Yep and Hannah with a Kenda sponsor label clearly shown on his sleeve yet running magic marys.
  • 1 0
 I missed what happened to Bruni, can someone tell me what happened?
  • 1 0
 Broke his collarbone
  • 1 0
 @Offleash: Bummer for him!
  • 1 0
 Steve Peat ... He's gone to plaid!
  • 1 0
 That VitalMTB sticker in the first photo tho....
  • 1 0
 Can't wait til 2morro
  • 1 0
 AeroPress FTW!
  • 1 2
 what jamie sex toys??
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