MacLennan Photo Reel - 2016 Fort William World Cup

Jun 6, 2016 at 16:54
by Alasdair MacLennan  
What a difference a year makes. Twelve months ago Fort William was host to a thriving black market in waterproofs, umbrella's and most importantly, plastic bags and duct tape to seal up camera gear. Skin is waterproof but in 50mph winds and driving rain, most electronics aren't. There was still a black market trade in 2016 but this time it was in sunscreen. I mean, who brings sunscreen to Scotland in June? Midge repellent without a doubt, but sunscreen? So with twenty five degrees on the mercury (Celsius of course, none of this Fahrenheit nonsense) and blue skies overhead, the riding was getting underway, the dust was in the air and the rocks were flying. With barely a drop of rain in the preceding weeks the track was hard as concrete and full of rocks. With one exception, the ‘World Cup' woods. Those woods were filled with roots and soft, wheel grabbing holes. The prevailing conditions may have been more amenable than in 2015, there weren't even any midges, but the track was still it's usual destructive self as many riders found to their cost throughout the weekend.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  What can be said about Peaty that hasn't already been said? He is the epitome of a true racer, a legend and an all-round nice guy. He's also quick. There aren't many 41 year olds capable of qualifying for a World Cup, and even fewer who are capable of doing it weekend after weekend. After blowing his ACL last year and sitting out most of the season he's back but will retire permanently at the end of the year. So many riders past and present have looked up to Steve as an inspiration over the course of his career and this will undoubtedly continue well into the future. With over fifty World Cup podiums, seventeen wins and a World Championship to his name the legend is well and truly set in stone.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  Some riders have style for miles but Scotty Mears has enough to get to the moon and back. Flat Pedal Thunder! Always happy to play it up to the crowds he knows when to have fun, and when to really knuckle down and work hard.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
   And this is when the time to focus comes in. After making it through to Sunday, Scott was pretty happy to be in the top sixty before heading to Leogang on Tuesday, but only after he leaves the keys to his shop in the capable hands of his mum! Not every rider in the World Cup is a full time racer, there are plenty who hold down real jobs and run businesses successfully in between riding and training. If you want it, you work for it.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  Significantly helping to make Santa Cruz Syndicate the winning team of the weekend was Minnaar. The South African can almost call the event his own, although most doubted that this year would be the year to add to his tally having been yet to reach the top ten. He didn't look quick up top, but he did look smooth and that can be deceptive. Having blown a hole in his rim on Saturday which led to a sudden bout of rapid-onset-pressure-loss he was one of the first quick riders down and went straight into the hotseat, and there he remained right until the end. Three seconds up on second is a big gap at this level. After this weekend he now has six wins from eight podiums and twelve races. A 50% entry to win conversion rate is up there, no matter how successful you've been as a rider.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
   How many page views did all the pre-season rumouring generate across the business? A lot, make no mistake. As well as all the ride out talk, it certainly gave everyone something to discuss over the post ride coffee or beer. Here Angel Suarez Alonso is chased down by the current World Cup leader and new for 2016 team mate, Aaron Gwin.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  Wyn Masters is another rider who manages to be a firm favourite with fans around the world no matter what the result is. WynTV probably had something to do with that, as does his ability to look flat out and on edge at will.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  Flat out, racey and with an iridium lens in the goggles. Everything looks better with iridium, although if you'd have tried to use one of these this time last year it would have been like standing in a cupboard with the light off. Dust is much better than mud.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  Alex Marin Trillo was looking stylish all weekend. Surviving qualifying to reach eleventh place was good...

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  ...but better for the Spaniard was converting that to thirteenth despite not having the perfect first split while riders around him crashed out and punctured. Sometimes it comes down to being a race of attrition but this, his best World Cup result to date, is more than that.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  Only one rider really even came close to getting Rider of the Day, and it's this man. Not many thought Brayton would manage to match his fifth place qualifying run come Sunday, especially as luck doesn't always seem to be on his side, but manage it he did and proved that he can roll with the big boys. You have to go back to *that* race at Champery in 2007 for his best result prior to this at a World Cup with a 6th place, and outside of that his best was in the twenties. He definitely pulled it out the bag with a run that was as loose and scary as any you've seen where the rider actually made it to the bottom. Can he repeat the podium again this year?

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  Gwin had the perfect start to the season with a win in Lourdes for YT after all the internet speculation pre-season. Fourth in Australia may not have been quite as good as he would want but it's a solid result backed up with the second step this weekend. More importantly though it leaves him with a pretty solid 68 point lead in the overall standings.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  Remember THAT skinsuit? Luckily the black latex catsuit is now a banned item on the UCI clothing list, and Ben Cathro is all the happier for it. He's no longer a full time World Cup rider having made the move to coaching some Sick Skills a few years ago but having the World Cup visiting your doorstep is a hard lure to resist. Cathro always did well here, the highlight being a couple of top-ten's, but a puncture near the top cruelly put him out of Sunday. He did get just about the loudest cheer of the afternoon when he carried the bike on his back across the line. Everyone loves the underdog.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  Danny would have come to this weekend looking for something good, but after crashing in the top section just after the boardwalk and landing 21st place in qualifying the pressure was definitely on for Sunday. And do it he did. Okay, it wasn't the win, but third place is a solid showing after having a bobble in the woods on the way to the finish. That fastest first split in the race hints as to what might have been if it weren't for the woods.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  Jack Reading is one of those guys who doesn't seem to take the easy route to doing things. With solid results you can get a deal, and a bike, and turn up to race having worried only about training. But he didn't choose that route when he set up V1sion Global Racing. As well as working as an optometrist he now also runs the team, sorts out the sponsors and has three other riders on the team too. Will Jones got through to finals for the first time this year (no easy feat), while Jack took 30th with George Gannicott just ahead in 27th which was a slight disappointment after an outstanding tenth place qualifying run but still a solid result nonetheless.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  Over the past five years it's always been clear that James Purvis would do great things given the opportunity. His first year on the World Cup has been a little rough but given time he'll be up there where he should be. Sixth place in qualifying didn't translate to a result on Sunday but sometimes that's the way these things roll, and Leogang's another chance to shine.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  It was all looking so good in qualifying for the Welshman but Emyr Davies had a mare in the lower reaches of Aonach Mor and with that, it was game over with time to watch racing with a beer on Sunday.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  Converting to a new bike isn't always straight forward and Gee is not having the best start to 2016. With an eye on the big prize of the World Cup overall, consistency is key. Taking first in qualifying was a marker that the Gee of old was back and it was game on but a crash heading into Pinball Alley on Sunday left him languishing in 61st place.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  While individual race wins are still on the cards, and still mean a lot, it's safe to say that Gee's now near 300 point deficit to Gwin is going to be pretty unassailable.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  Greg Williamson is on a roll. He's on a new team with Cube, fresh new kit and straight from a 6th place in Cairns all eyes were on him to see if he could go one better and get his first World Cup podium. Seventh in qualifying was a good start but despite going six seconds faster on Sunday, in seventh place he remained. Still, it's his best ever Fort William result (and that's saying something). He leaves Fort William ten years after his first race there as a Juvenile ranked sixth overall in the series. Not a bad place to be.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  Two wins from three races leaves Finn Iles sitting pretty. The Canadian is stylish, quick and getting to grips with handling the pressure of sitting under the wing of Loic.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  Josh is still struggling to recover the consistent form that saw him win the 2014 World Cup overall and come a hairs breadth from winning the World Champs too. Two World Cup podiums in 2015 and a third place at the World Champs isn't bad by any means but Ratboy is definitely capable of more. Rolling around in the dirt on Saturday wasn't a good start to racing this weekend but as a protected rider it was a safe pass to Sunday where it really counts. Sunday came through though and with fifteenth place Josh is unlikely to be happy, knowing he's capable of more. But Leogang is another race; will he make a return to the podium there?

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  Laurie Greenland's first year in Elite is going pretty well. Qualifying went well with a fifteenth place which would have been good enough, but come Sunday he bettered it.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  And that was with eighth place, just six seconds down on Minnaar and less than two seconds from the podium. Watch out for him, he's well on his way to being a dominant force.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  To say that racing is all about luck would be to take away from the massive amount of effort that goes in but which few see. When you get to this point in the season there are niggles in your body, injuries carried and fatigue from travelling beginning to set in. But then there are also the crashes. Manon capitalized on Rachel's crash in qualifying to take an early victory but come Sunday and the tables were turned when it was Manon's turn to crash, leaving her in third place some twenty seconds back.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  Marcello Gutierrez was looking on for a good result having been quick in practice and qualifying but Sunday saw a puncture take away any chances of a good result. He wasn't the only Giant Factory rider to struggle as his team mate, Guillaume Cauvin also punctured. It was a bittersweet weekend for the team with two riders out of contention but another, Alex Marin, managing his best result to date.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  After relying on his protected status (six of the top twenty riders relied on this) to get into the final, Polygon's Mick Hannah put in a charge to 23rd place. He's been on the podium here before, and has come pretty close to winning in the past when he's been on form, but but it's just never quite come together on the day for the Australian.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
   Rachel once again underlined her dominance in the sport, taking her ninth consecutive win at World Cup level, tenth if you include the 2015 world champs. In fact the last time she was off the podium at a World Cup was here in 2014 when she was disqualified for outside assistance after a puncture, although at that stage in downhill it's a technicality, your day's over anyway. After crashing in qualifying she lay down a dominant twelve second lead to second placed Tracey Hannah.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  It's hard to believe that it was all the way back in 2007 that Ruaridh Cunningham took his Junior World Champs win here. Roll forward nearly ten years and he's a consistent top level finisher but, as with many this weekend, luck was not on his side and a puncture was to ruin his day.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  The motorway jumps on the run into the arena are big, bold and a magnet for the crowds. Sam Hill plays it up for them in practice.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  It may have been a low key start to the season for Hill, and while 21st place is nothing to shout about for a previous winner on this course, the time gap was less than six seconds to the podium.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  Qualifying in 80th place is a bit Hollywood, and Brit Shaun Richards was certainly sailing close to the edge with his split times but in is in no matter which way you look at it. Low and tucked on the top section he converted that Saturday run to a 62nd place in the final on Sunday.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
   Ever stylish, this kit was a bit in your face when you first laid eyes on it but it was a grower and certainly stood out. Not that a six foot three downhiller like Steve is ever left wanting for presence once on track. Steve has never been one to look rough and loose but even so he was a continued masterclass of how to ride a downhill bike all weekend. Sure, 29th place isn't quite the top step but less than fifteen seconds down on a field with riders half his age is still an impressive performance.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  Yup, another picture of Steve. It's his final year of racing here though so deal with it. Looking at the entry list it's amazing to think just how much British talent has been helped over the years by him, either directly through his junior teams, or indirectly with a helping hand and inspiration when it's been needed.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  Sometimes common sense has to prevail, no matter how badly you want to race. After damaging the tendons in her elbow at the last BDS race Tahnee Seagrave elected to sit racing out to ensure the recovery happens as quickly as possible. Decisions like that are never easy, but sometimes necessary, even if it is your home event.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  Taylor Vernon had a mare in Cairns with a crash which left him unable to race. Roll forward to Fort William and another nightmare in qualifying kept the Trek Factory Racing rider from reaching Sunday's final.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  Tracey Hannah lost time in the first split compared to her qualifying run but it was only a few seconds and certainly wouldn't have been enough to take anything significant from the gap to Rachel. But taking advantage of Manon's crash allowed her to snatch second place and pull a few points from the gap to Manon in the overall too.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
  Where some riders carry speed with subtlety, Troy looks like he's travelling at every bit of the speed he is. Even standing still this weekend he was catching attention with the eye searingly bright pink Demo. The Australian is on to a flyer this year.

2016 Fort William World Cup. Images copyright Ian MacLennan.
   Fourth place in qualifying was backed up with a fifth in the final, making three podiums from three in 2016. This leaves him just sixty points shy of Gwin in the overalls going into the mid-point race of the season and it looks like he may be the only one in a serious position to challenge him.

There you have it. The circus has now rolled out of town and onto Leogang for Round 4 leaving Fort William to the midges for another year. The atmosphere of this event never fails to amaze, even when the weather is horrendous, but when the sun's out it really has the best atmosphere in the world. It was a blow-out of emotions, for many reasons. For a fallen friend, for the last home World Cup of a legend and for those who took a look at the weather and decided to make a return after years away. The atmosphere was electric and that only intensified once racing got under way. Riders crashed, riders had mechanicals and other riders put in the runs of their lives. See you next year!


MENTIONS: @cloverleaf



29 Comments

  • + 55
 Great consistency in the images. They progressed, told the story and satisfied sponsors with perfect focus. Seriously good work.
  • + 17
 Stunning photos! Wallpaper Wednesday come early
  • + 5
 Fantastic photos Alasdair. I missed those incredibly sharp photos capturing speed like a few can Smile You have a style going on there!

Funny with the caption under Gregs photo. I saw him on a World Cup track three times and he is so bloody smooth compared to most other riders that he looks slow. I will never forget his cat like swiftness on the steepest and longest rock garden in Val Di Sole, he's looks so calm and controlled on the bike that it almost seems direspectful to the track.
  • + 3
 RACER-X quality!

best shots of the whole weekend.

this is what me and my friends are about.............

f*ck the background, f*ck the pretty mtn, f*ck the romance...................

give us the money shot, full brap action.

i wanna see the whites of their eyes, every decal on the kit/bike, tire flex, chain slap and wheels bending.
  • + 6
 Thank you! You have summarised my shooting style to perfection. I consider my shots really as portraits of adrenalin junkies and I do my best to capture their insane commitment to winning. I also like to see the rocks flying and the tyres and forks compressing!
  • + 1
 @Enochdhu: braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaap!!!!!!

your welcome.

you rock.
  • + 3
 I dislocated my elbow in a dh race last year, was a sling for 3 weeks, and it took 2 months before the pain of riding my bike was bearable to ride regularly, the fact that it was out for about an hour and a half cant have helped but still, Tahnee is a beast!
  • + 6
 This is awesome!!! Huge props!!! And amazing photos!
  • + 2
 agreeeddd
  • + 2
 Gwins Lion sight is impressive... He looks kinda is going to attack the target from behind the brushes... I trully belive this kinda lion soul he has is what makes him damn so fast amd consistent... 0 fear, all confidence...
  • + 3
 Hmm. I like a few shots. Not sure the quality and variety is right up there however.
  • + 1
 Some were heavy on the flash, and most had a super tight crop. But I enjoyed the different photographer's perspective.
  • + 0
 In my opinion, shouldn't the photographs from the UCI MTB champs in Scotland be a great place to showcase some new creative angles and different shots. I mean they are great photos but together they are all just the same. They aren't "pushing any boundaries" sort of thing
  • + 2
 So you looking for boost pictures?
  • + 4
 Look at Finn's rear tire on that corner!!
  • + 2
 Always love Ian's photo reels, simply outstanding picture every single time. Well done.
  • + 2
 who shot these pics?

windy?
oz?
james?
  • + 4
 you guys are down voting bob osborne?
down voting windy osborne?

down voting james 'don't shoot till ya see the whites of their eyes' casssimus?

you peeps need to learn some history on bicycle photography!

3 of the finest to ever point a camera at a bicycle in motion!
  • + 2
 These shots are amazing! SUPER POD!!!!!!!
  • + 2
 Well, now we have POD's for a month! Great work!
  • + 1
 Great photos as always from Ft. William! I remember astonished by your photos several years ago!
  • - 1
 Wow, amazing photos! I've often felt that some of the regulars keep shooting the same shots everywhere they go.. These felt fresh and really well captured!
  • + 1
 What's the red thing zip tied to the bottom of people's forks?
  • + 1
 OMG!!! Awesome PHOTOS! Smile Smile Smile
  • + 1
 Peaty is on the most beautiful V10 ever.
  • + 0
 This is like the 4th time I have seen Gwin using Maxxis tires with the logos covered. smh
  • + 1
 Loving these shots, pin sharp Big Grin sweeet!
  • + 0
 gregorious photo...amazing, stuning angle :o
  • + 0
 Fantastic shots Ian!

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