The Perfect Season: Rachel Atherton - Video

Feb 28, 2017
by Pinkbike Staff  

In her first year with Trek Factory Racing Downhill, Rachel Atherton accomplished the unimaginable. She won every UCI World Cup event and the World Championships, achieving the first-ever perfect season in the history of World Cup mountain biking.

MENTIONS: @trekfactoryracingdh / @trek


  • + 52
 So amazing she kept it together. At some point people expect you to win so much that it doesn't impress them anymore (at least judging by quite some PB comments). The pressure must have been massive. What more can she do? Maybe win all the qualifiers too. But I'm not worried. Even if she stops winning, she's a legend for her achievements in racing, as an ambassador for the sport as well as for her efforts to support young female riders.
  • + 26
 What an incredible achievement. Not only beating your opponents at every race, but also beating the mountain again and again
  • + 13
 That's what baffles me. No mechanicals, no slip ups. Fought through all conditions and kept it upright. So crazy. Unreal accomplishment by the whole team. Those mechanics must have been sweating soooo bad before the races. Imagine it being a broken chain or a bad brake that ruined the record.
  • + 7
 @bikekrieg: Yeah, but I think it goes both ways. The general public may not always see it, but the riders definitely see the team working so hard for them. So if the riders mess up, they definitely also feel bad for their team. I've got a dvd called The Tipping Point by Clay Porter about the 2008 WC DH season. As many may remember from the mens Worlds finals, Sam Hill crashed shortly before the finish line whilst on a potentially winning run. Gee eventually won, Steve Peat still didn't (he did that the next year). In the interview Sam didn't only admit he was disappointed to lose his title (he won it in 2007) but he also felt he let his team down. I guess that's the way it goes in a high performance team. Everyone performs at their best and it is inevitable that someone is going to drop the ball sometimes. Be it the mechanic, a sponsor with a component in the prototype stage or the rider. But if it is a good team, people are also tolerant to that. Accept it, learn and move on.
  • + 3
 @vinay: I miss those DVD's. Clay Porter really captured the DH season wonderfully.

I'd take those back over all the 3 minute quickly put together team web edits.
  • + 2
 @vinay: i remember whe Johannes Fischbach was riding for Ghost and they f*cked up the prototype, so they bought him a specialized demo frame for the world champs so he could ride on a proper bike. worst marketing ever, bought they didn't want to let Fischi down
  • + 5
 @bikekrieg: right? everyone keeps talking about the competition in the womens field not being very high, but the tracks they ride are still absolutely brutal and she didn't crash once
  • + 1
 @WolfStoneD: Well yeah, I thought I was just getting old. Back in those days I just bought Dirt magazine (UK) to read about the races and then buy the Earthed movie after the season to watch the motion picture. The Tipping Point was after the last Earthed movie and I think after that there wasn't really a season recap on dvd the way it used to be. I just couldn't get into watching these edits on the computer instead of the tv. Especially as it would never be as smooth as VHS or dvd (as I didn't feel like investing in fast internet). I've gone with the times, somewhat. But I still buy physical stuff like vinyl, cd, dvd and blu-ray. So that I can actually enjoy this stuff offline.
  • + 10
 Rachel is so on another level - not just compared to the ladies. The speeds she puts down and the technical perfection she rides with is second to none. Most of the top guys ride pretty flawlessly, but Rachel is just millimeter perfect at all times. That's not to mention the crazy level of fitness she maintains despite getting punished at the track.
  • - 2
 @shredteds are you f***ing high?! Yes, she is an amazing rider, for a female or male, but you can't seriously sit there and tell me she is anywhere near as skilled as a top male athlete. If she was, she wouldn't have been 20 seconds behind the last male qualifier, as the fastest female qualifier, at Mont-Saint-Anne this past season. I really do find this accomplishment truly amazing, inspirational even, but stop kidding yourself.
  • + 1
 @giantkid97: Do you think Rachel can put down the pedaling wattage of any of the top guys? Nope. Why would you talk about qualifying times instead of race times? Oh - is it because she was faster than the 5 slowest guys on the elite men circuit in the actual race, muscle mass be damned? You are carefully sourcing info to try to further your case, that's just sad. Come on, dude.
  • + 2
 @shredteds: not all that fair to say that either. The reason those 5 men are down there is that they had flats, or some other type of mechanical. You're the one that said she rides better than not only the women, which I assume means you consider her better than most male racers. How can you consider someone consistently slower better? Like o said I don't feel that this is any way take away from her accomplishment, as she is not a male and is not expected to compete against them. You however had to compare her to top level males, which is just silly to do.
  • + 10
 Already a legend in women DH mountainbiking !
  • + 5
 Rachel just rips harder and faster than all the guys on here, they get butt hurt and lash out to try and find excuses to why she is so good.
  • + 1
 We already know why. She grew up following her brothers. Imagine if you grew up with personal trainers pushing you harder everyday. Of course she ended up insanely fast!
  • + 5
 @Wouldhaveletmego: It surely helps to have training partners, brothers or otherwise, but that doesn't automatically make anyone the best at anything. There are plenty of people in every sport that have personal trainers, training partners and mentors that have helped pushed them along the way and not made it to the top of their respective sports. It takes something more. Rachel has a rigorous work ethic and has earned every accolade she's ever accomplished on the bike. The fact that she grew up riding with her brothers should not negate all of the effort that she has put in to being the best female DH rider on the planet.
  • + 6
 @Wouldhaveletmego: I don't get why we continually have this argument. Yes, Rachel Atherton has been helped by her brothers being good (great) riders, but she has achieved what she has off her own graft. You don't automatically become world champion because you're related to someone at the top of the sport... She could have been some slob who achieved nothing, but the reason she is so much better than everyone else is largely down to the effort she has made. Yes, other conditions have to also be right, but the effort she makes is the reason that everything comes together for her.
  • + 4
 @slimboyjim: because it's a joke. And some people still get butthurt
  • + 2
 @JoseBravo: Fair enough - I did bite didn't I!?! To be fair though, not everyone is joking and it does diminish her achievement, but if I missed the context then I'll hold my hands up to it...
  • + 1
 @fullbug: This Article was published on the 17.2.2017. Read the comments below. There was a mention of Ragot, but now the text has magically disappeared.
Here the the comments below.
  • + 4
 Rachel, vous ĂȘtes formidable!
  • + 5
 Rachel is the GOAT
  • + 2
 On the Ragot comeback talk, this is from lead up to 2016 but ....
  • + 1
 She should go down as the greatest downhill mountain biker in the history of the sport, guy or girl. A true LEGEND. Giant of the sport.
  • + 1
 Haha. Some men have fragile egos.
  • + 2
 @BaeckerX1: great point...
some women have fragile egos....
Some men wear shite shirts
Some women wear shite shirts
  • + 2
 when you know that at 2:50 she was faster than all the boys Big Grin
  • - 3
 I remember there was one of the comments here on PB, that Rachel is the only girl that has everything all the big boys have: team of professional sport docs & trainers that help her with training programs, lab measuring, nutrition and so on. It was used like the excuse for her continuous line of victories. Could anyone confirm / deny those statements?
  • + 3
 Back a decade ago I definitely would have said the situation for the ladies was much worse than it is for the men. I was so surprised to see Tracey Hannah had to leave WC racing after having finished third overall in her first year as a senior, because of lack of support! Gee Atherton was hugely successful and could have got great deals if he went on his own, but insisted they'd stick together. If you want Gee, you get the whole family. Of course the situation has improved hugely over the past couple of years and so I doubt these comments still go for the current situation, it may definitely have been the case back in the day. So yeah, she may have had a head start compared to the rest of the ladies of her generation but I don't think it really is compared to the talented young female racers today. I believe Manon Carpenter gets proper support as well now. And Tracey Hannah also made it back on the circuit. I doubt she's getting any less support than any of her UR Polygon teammates. What Rachel did mention someday is that she's one of the few top ladies not also doing a university study at the same time, so she can fully focus on racing. Manon and Tracey are now studying at the university and so are many of the French athletes. Then again the French traditionally have quite decent support for athletes and artists, more than those in the UK get probably.
  • + 1
 Ladies an gentleman......... RACHEL ATHERTON!
  • + 1
 GOAT! What a time to be alive
  • + 0
 but she rides with her brothers
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