'The Greatest Show on Earth' is how Dirt magazine described Fort William's World Cup in 2005 and it still holds up today as one of the greatest downhill races of all time. For some, it marked the beginning of a dominant era of World Cup downhill by the Brits as two legends of the sport took the victories in Tracy Moseley and Steve Peat but they were pushed hard by an emerging crop of young talents.
There was plenty for Brits to cheer about throughout the weekend, from Brian Lopes wearing a Tam O'Shanter to 4X getting its first streakers to Tracy Moseley reclaiming her Fort Bill crown in a Brit 1-2 with Rachel Atherton. The fans would head home happiest about one result though - Steve Peat winning on home soil for the first time.
This would be Peaty's fourth visit to Fort William as a racer, but he had actually been journeying up to the Scottish Highlands all his life to watch his father compete in the Scottish Six Day Trials. As a rider, Peat had been on the podium twice before but never made the top step. He came into 2005 looking to change that though. He later told Dirt Mag: "It's no understatement that I wanted to win badly at Fort William and because of this maybe I put too much pressure on myself for the first few years. Coming into 2005 I felt that I just needed to settle in and ride for me, not for the fans. It’s always an awesome atmosphere and it’s hard to get from our pits to the chairlift, sometimes I just have to get my head down and crack on. It’s not because I don’t want to sign autographs or chat with people, it’s because I have to get on with the job in hand!"
Steve Peat was reigning World Cup overall champion at the race and had won the first World Cup of the year, but a separated shoulder racing 4X after that meant he'd had to sit out most of the races. Fort William was unusually the last round of the season in 2005, probably in preparation for hosting the World Champs two years later, so while other riders had titles on the line to worry about, Peaty could put all his eggs in one basket and go for the win.
He qualified fastest, which no doubt added even more pressure to his weekend, but he cooly and calmly delivered when it mattered, winning by more than 2 seconds from his future teammates Greg Minnaar and Nathan Rennie. It was a momentous occasion - a British rider on a British bike winning on British soil. The crowd went predictably insane as you can see from this fan cam below: