The Highland Fling: Practice – Fort William DH World Cup

Jun 2, 2017
by Nathan Hughes  



There are probably a great many parallels to be drawn between the 'complex and vigourous' traditional Scottish dance and riding your bike down Fort William. Of course, the latter must always be done outside at the mercy of the weather and the insect life, which was where most people's minds were drawn today. Instead of a nice polished wood floor, riders also need to perform across a disastrous mass of boulders, chicken wire and weathered oak, which can be problematic... But what do we care, all we want is bike related drama, and today, the best place for that was absolutely in the forest. You'll have to go check that out yourself though, we'll be steering clear another day longer... Don't forget your smoke flare and bee-keeper's suit.

As ever, the world's fastest racers wasted little time bringing things up to the boil with an available maximum of 15 years World Cup practice to build on, and don't forget the BDS race that went down just weeks before. Of course, no one likes to not show any cards quite like Aaron Gwin during practice... okay maybe Sam Hill, but he has to prove himself now or miss out on a final World Champs hurrah in Australia this September.... he can't afford to hold back too much for too long with such a stacked Aussie field desperate to make the cut.

Laurie Greenland was the surprise turn-up of the day, coming out absolutely swinging to remind us why he took home a silver medal at Val di Sole and pipping the likes of Bruni, Minnaar and Hart to the day's quickest run. Not forgetting that scrutiny of the timed training results sheet is only of limited worth, what the numbers most certainly do show is who doesn't suck.... Does 27.5 suck? Too early to tell. Does Rachel Atherton need a bike to win? Not so much at the moment, but Tracy Moseley is back on a DH bike as a pre-runner, and no one likes to get smoked by an old timer even if they aren't competing. You can bet your last wee dram 'o whiskey that the women's field haven't given up the quest to knock her off her perch, and based on the last race up in these parts, Carpenter will be the first to try.


All kinds of weather blew in today and we had a random mix of fog sun rain and wind on rotation.
All kinds of weather blew in today, and we had a random mix of fog, sun, rain and wind on rotation.

Scottish favourite Greg Williamson talks suspension clicks with Cube Global Squad mechanic Jesse.
Scottish favourite, Greg Williamson, talks suspension clicks with Jesse, the Cube Global Squad mechanic.

World Cup leader Alex Fayolle giving it a spin before heading up the hill for the first day of training.
World Cup leader Alex Fayolle giving it a spin before heading up the hill for the first day of training.

Warm up spins at the Madison Saracen pit with Simmons and Marin.
Warm up spins at the Madison Saracen pit with Simmons and Marin.

16 years of timeless views.
16 years of timeless views.

Action shot out of the start gate with random insignificant racer in the women s category.
Rachel Atherton blasts out of the start gate.

It was sunny a moment ago.
It was sunny a moment ago.

A little too much heat into the pinball section in run one almost saw an early end to Fayolle s hopes of defending the treasured yellow plate. Luckily he got away unscathed to tell the tale.
A little too much heat into the pinball section in run one almost saw an early end to Fayolle's hopes of defending the treasured yellow plate. Luckily he got away unscathed to tell the tale.

Markus Pekoll dropping into the 2.8km course.
Markus Pekoll dropping into the 2.8km course.

How long has it been since we ve seen Tracy Moseley on a DH bike and speeding down Aonach Mor. While not racing this weekend she is one of the forerunners and could be seen getting a few laps in amongst the other women in the morning.
How long has it been since we've seen Tracy Moseley on a DH bike and speeding down Aonach Mor? While not racing this weekend, she is one of the forerunners and could be seen getting a few laps in amongst the other women in the morning.

Rocking a three digit number plate and having a blast Sam Hill banged out quite a few laps today.
Rocking a three digit number plate and having a blast, Sam Hill banged out quite a few laps today.

3rd place junior from Lourdes Sylvain Cougoureux scopes out the track as it flows directly underneath the gondola line.
3rd place junior from Lourdes, Sylvain Cougoureux, scopes out the track as it flows directly underneath the gondola line.

Custom paint for the biggest Bill of Danny s career.
Custom paint for the biggest 'Bill of Danny's career.

Danny Hart surfing the ribbon of granite.
Danny Hart surfing the ribbon of granite.

High winds up top made for some dodgy condition in the morning.
High winds up top made for some dodgy condition in the morning.

Brook MacDonald cutting his way through a brief rain shower.
Brook MacDonald cutting his way through a brief rain shower.

Tahnee Seagrave has a new custom FOX kit for the race this weekend.
Tahnee Seagrave has a new custom Fox kit for the race this weekend.

Injury took Tahnee out of contention here last year so we haven t seen a race run from her since her 2nd place in 2015.
Injury took Tahnee out of contention here last year so we haven't seen a race run from her since her 2nd place in 2015.

A fresh new jersey leave this week for Australian National Champ Jack Moir and a fresh new bike with some big wheels.
A fresh new jersey this week for Australian National Champ Jack Moir and a fresh new bike with some big wheels.

Greg Minnaar has taken a simply unbelievable 6 of the available 15 victories here at Fort William. You d be bat sh t mental to think he won t be able to do it again.
Greg Minnaar has taken a simply unbelievable 6 of the available 15 victories here at Fort William. You'd be bat sh*t mental to think he won't be able to do it again.

Emilie Siegesthaler looking through to the next corner at the top of the track.
Emilie Siegenthaler looking through to the next corner at the top of the track.

The closest race to home for Adam Brayton.
The closest race to home for Adam Brayton.

Gaetan Vige sets up for one of the many rough turns mid-track.
Gaetan Vige sets up for one of the many rough turns mid-track.

Troy Brosnan straing down the barrel of a gun.
Troy Brosnan staring down the barrel of a gun.

Dean Lucas has his hands on Intense s 29 offering.
Dean Lucas has his hands on Intense's 29" offering.

The weather rolls in and out fast here who knows what we are in for.
The weather rolls in and out fast here, who knows what we are in for.

After all the hype surrounding the Deathgrip launch Brendan Fairclough turns his attention back to the track.
After all the hype surrounding the Deathgrip launch, Brendan Fairclough turns his attention back to the track.

Morganne Charre motoring down the grey mile on her Bergamont.
Morgane Charre motoring down the grey mile on her Bergamont.

The Syndicate and Loic Bruni share a gondola up together.
The Syndicate and Loic Bruni share a gondola up together.

Eliott Heap under blue skies for now. The forecast looks very mixed for the days to come.
Eliott Heap under blue skies, for now. The forecast looks very mixed for the days to come.

Eliot Jackson cuts it fine to the pole.
Eliot Jackson cuts it fine to the pole.

Mark Wallace will be looking to continue his strong start to the season.
Mark Wallace will be looking to continue his strong start to the season.

Greg Williamson had a storming run here last year he ll hope to step it up even more and reach the podium in front of the home fans
Greg Williamson had a storming run here last year, he'll hope to step it up even more and reach the podium in front of the home fans

Promising USA young gun Chuck Harrison committing to the Scottish gravel turns.
Promising USA young gun, Chuck Harrison, committing to the Scottish gravel turns.

Loris Vergier is a man on a mission at the moment riding with calmness and composure.
Loris Vergier is a man on a mission at the moment, riding with calmness and composure.

Greg Minnaar found heaps of time in the middle section last year with the track changes his opposition will be hoping he won t be able to do the same.
Greg Minnaar found heaps of time in the middle section last year, with the track changes his opposition will be hoping he won't be able to do the same.

Kaos Seagrave pulling up for the fresh rock gap below the deer fence.
Kaos Seagrave pulling up for the fresh rock gap below the deer fence.

Alone out in front your World number 1 Alex Fayolle.
Alone out in front, your world number 1, Alex Fayolle.

Moto sized ruts on the new section.
Moto sized ruts on the new section.

Brook MacDonald was pushing hard today and if his bike could talk it would surely speak only of unending pain and suffering.
Brook MacDonald was pushing hard today and if his bike could talk we can assume it would only beg for death.

An ant-sized Markus Pekoll taking on Aonoch Mor like a champ.
An ant-sized Markus Pekoll taking on Aonoch Mor like a champ.

Loris Vergier excavates some rocks with his beg wheels.
Loris Vergier excavates some rocks with his big wheels.

AF fter a 2nd to kick off the season in Lourdes Tracey Hannah is looking to keep the consistency going in Scotland.
After a 2nd place to kick off the season in Lourdes, Tracey Hannah is looking to keep the consistency going in Scotland.

Loic Bruni showing the rocks who s boss.
Loic Bruni showing the rocks who's boss.

Bergamont s Reece Wilson focuses on the task at hand.
Bergamont's Reece Wilson focuses on the task at hand.

Zero Fort William wins to his name but a rainbow striped arrow in his quiver... it s all eyes on Danny Hart this Sunday.
Zero Fort William wins to his name, but a rainbow striped arrow in his quiver... it's all eyes on Danny Hart this Sunday.

Probably not since his first World Cup in 2008 has Gwin had a number board this high.
Probably not since his first World Cup in 2008 has Gwin had a number board this high.

Pom Pon trying to keep it straight in the wind.
Pom Pon trying to keep it straight in the wind.

Miranda Miller dives into the first set of corners at the top of the track.
Miranda Miller dives into the first set of corners at the top of the track.

The track in Fort William just goes and goes and goes a bit more. All the while beating up your arms and legs.
The track in Fort William just goes and goes and goes a bit more. All the while beating up your arms and legs.

MS Mondraker s Greenland on an absolute heater to kick things off here at round 2 and go faster than the rest of the pack. 4 42 is the fastest top to bottom so far.
MS Mondraker's Greenland on an absolute heater to kick things off here at round 2 and go faster than the rest of the pack. 4:42 is the fastest top to bottom so far.

He s a big man and he has a big bike. His name is Florent Payet.
He's a big man and he has a big bike. His name is Florent Payet.

The woods caused head aches for a large portion of the field polished roots deep rust and slick mud are a tasty combination.
The woods caused headaches for a large portion of the field; polished roots, deep rust and slick mud are a tasty combination.

The Syndicate s Luca Shaw skipping through the dear gate like a... gazell.
The Syndicate's Luca Shaw skipping through the deer gate like a... gazelle.

Blur sky dominated much of the afternoon but will it last There s a 50 chance that it definitely might.
Blue sky dominated much of the afternoon, but will it last? Definitely maybe.

Blenky only knows fast and loose.
Blenky only knows fast and loose.

Number one Aussie Mr Moir dropping the hammer down the step section.
Number one Aussie, Mr Moir, dropping the hammer down the step section.

 Yeah Connor Connor Fearon putting the hurt into the bedrock.
'Yeah Connor' Connor Fearon, putting the hurt into the bedrock.

Orange is the new black in the Kona pits.
Orange is the new black in the Kona pits.

Bernard Kerr s never had a great result here in the Highlands but could always pull out a big result on any track.
Bernard Kerr has never managed a great result here in the Highlands, but could always pull out a big result on any track.

Marcelo Gutierrez and Fort William are a good combination. The Colombian scored his first podium here and will hope for more of the same come Sunday.
Marcelo Gutierrez and Fort William are a good combination. The Colombian scored his first podium here and will hope for more of the same come Sunday.

Loic Bruni is that much of a gent that even on his morning turbo he was signing autographs for the crowds of school children on trips today.
Loic Bruni is that much of a gent that even on his morning turbo he was signing autographs for the crowds of school children on trips today.

Loic Bruni hucking his telemetry machine into the air on the way to the second fastest lap of the day
Bruni hucking his telemetry machine into the air on the way to the second fastest lap of the day.

Eliot Jackson is one of a long list of riders looking for redemption after the opening rounds in Lourdes.
Eliot Jackson is one of a long list of riders looking for redemption after the opening rounds in Lourdes.

Tracey Hannah going HAM into the second turn of the all new section under the gondola.
Tracey Hannah going HAM into the second turn of the all new section under the gondola.

Fastest in timed training Rachel Atherton is right where she wants to be after the first day of practice.
Fastest in timed training, Rachel Atherton is right where she wants to be after the first day of practice.

The Scottish weather was in a bit of a mood throughout the day.
Big skies and big weather, it's anybody's guess how this one will play out...

Gee Atherton is here be it on 2 crutches rather than 2 wheels.
Great to see Gee Atherton still make it up to the Fort, albeit it on 2 crutches rather than 2 wheels.

The Canyon squad know how to deal with the pesky Scottish midge
The Canyon squad know how to deal with the pesky Scottish midge, which are out in absolute force!

The man of today s match Laurie G.
The man of today's match, Laurie G, reflecting on one fine day on the hill and his first ever timed training victory. No medals, just man points for this one.



54 Comments

  • + 50
 These new DH 29ers are starting to look actually quite normal... *sees photo of Pom Pon*... maybe not all of them.
  • + 13
 Can't even tell Jack Moir is on one!
  • + 2
 Emagine how big they would look on this tiney ripper! www.pinkbike.com/photo/12520440
  • + 2
 Alex Fayolle be like meh lockout dont do well on this track. I'm riding a hardtail.
  • + 1
 @Wamprat: Yeah Jack!
  • + 1
 @oldfaith: she still would look the cutest! We miss you Emmeline!
  • + 1
 @Wamprat: Or Minnar.
  • + 1
 whats yt got in the works for the big wheeled brigade @NickB01 haha
  • + 35
 Welcome back Sam
  • + 5
 I wonder what he feels right now. Does he miss it? Is there a spark of hunger for a win? I honestly hope so.
  • + 4
 @hollowing2000: If Sam Hill wins, I'll donate $20 to a charity.
  • + 5
 @abzillah: You should just donate to the Stevie Smith Legacy Fund anyway, like any legend would

#LONGLIVECHAINSAW
  • + 16
 Lots of whips being thrown on 29r's on vitals slide show. According to the internet this isn't possible.
  • + 1
 *according to the internet is not possible UNLESS you are N1no
  • + 6
 Does anyone know where/if you can see a live stream of the race anywhere? Can you provide a link?
Thank you in advance may all your trail rides have perfect weather and cold beer.
  • + 5
 redbull.tv
  • + 3
 I think it streams here on the front page...sourced and also streamed on redbull.tv ....also available for replay if you miss the live time
  • + 1
 a very funny place to ask that question if you don't mind me saying.
  • + 1
 @brianclaw: thank you so much!
  • + 8
 I wonder if Gee has a picture of Hart on his helmet?
  • + 7
 Damn I wish T-Mo was racing this one... Haha!
  • + 6
 Half the field is rocking 29ers, lockouts and other innovations. Connor slaps the flat pedals on and gets loose
  • + 4
 I'm pumped that you guys took the time to grammar and spell-check this article. It shows that there is pride in the work! Thanks for a great article with awesome photos and accurate captions to go along with them.
  • + 8
 SAM HIIIIILL! GIVE HER!
  • + 5
 dude...Hart's custom Viking was sick!
  • + 3
 Am I the only one who thinks that picture actually looks a bit like Gee?
  • + 1
 That cracked me up good win I saw that. Just imagined to giant Vikings talking like Hart and Ratboy. Good comedy
  • + 3
 The track has a very interesting wood section but we always always (also in videos) only see the same top section again again and again - WHY?
  • + 2
 Because up there is pretty open (with less things obstructing the view) If you set up a camera there you can get a longer portion of the track compared to what you would get if you put the camera in the woods
  • + 2
 Danny Hart has won at Fort Bill @ a BDS and snapped his chain at the start gate and pumped it to glory a few years back #Legend
  • + 4
 Miranda Miller, crush it!!
  • + 4
 Steve Peats dodgy sideburns
  • + 4
 10/10 photos, that was awesome.
  • + 4
 downhill bikes are the best
  • + 4
 #29ers are old news
  • + 1
 Less pedaling. DH riders getting lazy compared to the "originals".
  • + 2
 Am I the only one that sees a lever on Aaron Gwin his left side of his bike?
  • + 1
 shock lock out?
  • + 1
 Spotted the Fox 49s used by Hart and the Syndicate - surely they're not 49mm diameter stanchions? I guess it's just a 29er designation.
  • + 1
 Yes, they designated the 29" fox 40 with the number "49"
  • + 1
 The gondola looks dope with the bikes loaded like that, don't think I've ever seen the "wheels out" arrangement before
  • + 2
 Picture of Minnaar jumping is amazing!!!
  • + 1
 What's the gizmo on Atherton's forks, looks like some kind of data measuring device?
  • + 1
 It is. They have mentioned this many times already that the Trek team has bought a telemetry system for dialing in their suspension.
  • + 1
 The Danny Hart on the back of that helmet is a marked improvement to say the least.
  • + 1
 Cappuccino Steve appears to be taking some fashion cues from Mr. Minnaar. That new USWE pack looks pretty ace!
  • + 1
 Markus Pekoll isn't ant-sized, he's just far away.
  • + 1
 Does anyone know where I can find live timing for qualifying??
  • + 1
 @Dallasdownunder: thanks bud,saw one of my boys into the finals....
  • + 1
 congrats on spelling 'colombian' correctly
  • + 1
 "Surfing the ribbon of granite." The most poetic verse from Pinkbike

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