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Video: Up to Speed with Ben Cathro - Everything You Need to Know Ahead of the Fort William DH World Cup 2024

Apr 28, 2024 at 5:09
by Ed Spratt  

Pinkbike Primer presented by Five Ten

Coming in hot off two incredible Brazilian rounds of XC racing, Fort William provides the backdrop for the opening round of the 2024 Downhill World Cup series with riders raring to get between the tape and test out their off-season training. Here is everything you need to know ahead of the 2024 DH World Cup opening weekend.

Race Briefing

After hosting last year’s World Championships, Fort William returns in 2024 to mark the opening round of the 2024 season. As a mainstay of the World Cup series since 2002, the classic Scottish track is back in its usual May spot ready to catch out any riders who may not have done quite enough training with its brutal rocks and energy-draining four-minutes plus runtime.

There has been plenty of action happening off the track as this year’s silly season brought an abundance of team changes including some big moves from Vali Höll, Greg Minnaar and Aaron Gwin. In a very late team switch, we have recently seen Ollie Davis take the place of an injured Jackson Goldstone, moving from his previously new signing Commencal Schwalbe to the Syndicate.

Following the team moves, the early months of 2024 have seen some of the best riders already test themselves against the clock with Ronan Dunne and Gracey Hemstreet impressing at Hardline Tasmania while Lachlan Stevens McNab picked up a string of top results across New Zealand. Marine Cabirou, Ethan Craik, Benoit Coulanges and Camille Balanche have also picked up some strong results at national events in the build-up to Fort William.

Sadly, not everyone’s start to 2024 has been successful with several riders either still dealing with injuries or picking up new ones in their season preparations. Myriam Nicole is facing an uncertain start to the 2024 season after a thumb ligament injury and this year’s big Junior talent Asa Vermette fractured his hip at the Tennessee National. Jackson Goldstone will also be sitting out racing for a while as he faces recovery after a serious knee injury from his Hardline Tasmania crash.

We hope that helps get you prepped for this weekend's racing and keep scrolling to gather more details to get you ready for the first round of DH racing at Fort William.

Who Won the 2023 Overall?

Pele Bruni mash-up.

The battle for the 2023 overall titles showcased some of the best racing we have seen in years as we witnessed a dominant Vali Höll sweep the elite women’s field and the nail-biting conclusion to the men’s series at Mont-Sainte-Anne. With the scores wiped for 2024, who will come out ahead after round one this weekend?

Elite Women:

1st. Vali Höll: 2422
2nd. Nina Hoffmann: 1913
3rd. Marine Cabirou: 1734
4th. Monika Hrastnik: 1276
5th. Camille Balanche: 1020

Elite Men:

1st. Loic Bruni: 1698
2nd. Jackson Goldstone: 1616
3rd. Loris Vergier: 1533
4th. Finn Iles: 1366
5th. Andreas Kolb: 1357

Junior Women:

1st. Valentina Roa Sanchez: 390
2nd. Lisa Bouladou: 360
3rd. Erice Van Leuven: 285
4th. Sacha Earnest: 220
5th. Lais Bonnaure: 215
Junior Men:

1st. Ryan Pinkerton: 343
2nd. Nathan Pontvianne: 225
3rd. Bodhi Kuhn: 213
4th. Mylann Falquet: 200
5th. Léo Abella: 197

What's the Track Like?

Luke Meier-Smith's course preview from the 2023 World Championships

When and What Racing is Happening this Weekend?

Vali Hoel qualified first.

The schedule provides non-stop action and with the always tough Fort William course, riders have a tough week of racing to open the 2024 season. Here is a look at what you can expect to find happening this weekend.

All times BST

Friday, May 3
• 08:30-10:30 // Training - Group B
• 10:30-12:30 // Training - Group A
• 12:30-14:30 // Training - Group B (Timed Session)
• 14:30-16:30 // Training - Group A (Timed Session)

Saturday, May 4
• 08:30-10:00 // Training - Group B
• 10:00-11:30 // Training - Group A
• 12:00 // Qualifying - Women
• 12:30 // Qualifying - Men
• 14:00 // Qualifying - Junior Women
• 14:15 // Qualifying - Junior Men
• 15:00 // Semi-Final - Women
• 15:30 // Semi-Final - Men

Sunday, May 5
• 09:00-10:00 // Training - Qualified Juniors
• 10:00-11:00 // Training - Qualified Elites
• 11:30 // Finals - Junior Women
• 12:00 // Finals - Junior Men
• 13:15 // Finals - Women
• 14:00 // Finals - Men

Note: All times are local and subject to change by the UCI/event organizer.

What's the Weather Expected to be?
Phoebe Gale would pip her team mate and compatriot Tahnee Seagrave to 5th.

For the opening round of the 2024 season, we are in for a mostly dry week of weather with the current forecast only predicting rain for the track walk on Thursday.

Thursday, May 2

A couple of showers in the morning; otherwise, mainly cloudy // 19°C // 60% probability of precipitation // wind 9km/h

Friday, May 3

Partly sunny and nice // 20°C // 6% probability of precipitation // wind 9km/h

Saturday, May 4

Partly sunny // 17°C // 1% probability of precipitation // wind 9km/h

Sunday, May 5

Mostly cloudy // 19°C // 16% probability of precipitation // wind 9km/h

Weather forecast as of Sunday, April 28 from Accuweather.

Previous Winners

2023 // Charlie HATTON // GBR *
2022 // Amaury PIERRON // FRA
2019 // Amaury PIERRON // FRA
2018 // Amaury PIERRON // FRA
2017 // Greg MINNAAR // RSA
2016 // Greg MINNAAR // RSA
2015 // Greg MINNAAR // RSA
2014 // Troy BROSNAN // AUS
2013 // Gee ATHERTON // GBR
2012 // Aaron GWIN // USA
2011 // Greg MINNAAR // RSA
2010 // Gee ATHERTON // GBR
2009 // Greg MINNAAR // RSA
2008 // Greg MINNAAR // RSA
2007 // Sam HILL // AUS *
2006 // Sam HILL // AUS
2005 // Steve PEAT // GBR
2004 // Greg MINNAAR // RSA
2003 // Cedric GRACIA // FRA
2002 // Chris KOVARIK // AUS
2023 // Vali HOLL // AUT *
2022 // Nina HOFFMAN // GER
2019 // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR
2018 // Tahnee SEAGRAVE // GBR
2017 // Tracey HANNAH // AUS
2016 // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR
2015 // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR
2014 // Emmeline RAGOT // FRA
2013 // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR
2012 // Emmeline RAGOT // FRA
2011 // Tracy MOSELEY // GBR
2010 // Sabrina JONNIER // FRA
2009 // Sabrina JONNIER // FRA
2008 // Tracy MOSELEY // GBR
2007 // Sabrina JONNIER // FRA *
2006 // Tracy MOSELEY // GBR
2005 // Tracy MOSELEY // GBR
2004 // Anne-Caroline CHAUSSON // FRA
2003 // Céline GROS // FRA
2002 // Tracy MOSELEY // GBR

Note, * denotes a race which was a World Championship.

What Happened Last Time at Fort William?

Fort William never disappoints as once again the legendary race venue proved why it has been a big part of the downhill racing calendar since 2002.

The Junior Women's race saw a domination of the medal positions by New Zealand riders as they picked up 1st, 2nd and 3rd with fastest qualifier Erice Van Leuven taking the top spot. For the Junior Men it was the UK and French riders who looked strong initially but as the final riders made their way down it was Henri Kiefer and Bodhi Kuhn who took control of the race. Henri Kiefer stormed his way down the hill to take the hot seat with one rider remaining and while Bodhi Kuhn challenged the new World Champion the final split would knock him 0.4 seconds back.

In the Elite Women's race, the British riders kicked things off with some stellar runs as Tahnee Seagrave took the hot seat before Louise Ferguson, Phoebe Gale and Rachel Atherton made it four UK racers in the top five with just 10 riders left at the top. Marine Cabirou was the first to break up the British racers as she took the lead by seven seconds. Marine's time would tumble as Camille Balanche was after another World title, she led by only 0.3 seconds with two more riders left.

A rear wheel slide-out ended Germany's chances of another rainbow jersey this week as Nina Hoffmann couldn't complete a clean run in finals. With just Vali Höll remaining, we were guaranteed a repeat World Champion and the Austrian rider delivered a smooth and controlled run to come out on top by two seconds.

After the Women's racing Fort William brought the drama for the Men's title race as the rain picked up and quickly soaked the course making things extra challenging for most of the field. Greg Williamson and Angel Suarez were the early favourites as they came down looking fast and stayed at the front for over 20 riders. Charlie Hatton was the first to beat these two riders and remained unbeaten against some tough challengers. Only Charlie's teammate Andreas Kolb could come within one second of the British rider's time as he ended the day with the silver medal and 0.599 seconds back. Laurie Greenland secured another medal for the British team leaving Fort William with 3rd place. 2022 World Champion Loic Bruni couldn't back up his top qualifying run and just missed the medals in 4th.

Elite Women:

1st. Vali Höll: 4:58.242
2nd. Camille Balanche: +2.020
3rd. Marine Cabirou: +2.361
4th. Louise Ferguson: +9.721
5th. Phoebe Gale: +10.501
Elite Men:

1st. Charlie Hatton: 4:26.747
2nd. Andreas Kolb: +0.599
3rd. Laurie Greenland: +1.229
4th. Loic Bruni: +1.489
5th. Troy Brosnan: +1.512

Junior Women:

1st. Erice Van Leuven: 5:15.613
2nd. Poppy Lane: +5.208
3rd. Sacha Earnest: +5.625
4th. Aimi Kenyon: +6.709
5th. Valentina Roa Sanchez: 7.792
Junior Men:

1st. Henri Kiefer: 4:30.727
2nd. Bodhi Kuhn: +0.418
3rd. Léo Abella: +3.964
4th. Nathan Pontvianne: +4.209
5th. Lucas Lagneau: +5.176

Pinkbike Downhill Fantasy League


It's back! After a short hiatus in 2023, we’re excited that Pinkbike's DH Fantasy League is back for 2024, presented by the good people at Five Ten.

With a fictional budget of $1.5 million you will choose your ultimate team of 6 riders (4 men, 2 women) and go to battle in the Pinkbike's DH Fantasy League. Show off your skills in choosing the best riders for all 7 rounds of the 2024 UCI World Cup, plus the 2024 UCI World Championships, and your team will score points based on how your riders performed.

Points will be given out based on the position of the Elite men and women in finals at the end of the week. To maximize your chances to win the Grand Prize, we recommend you have your team created by the time Qualifying starts for the first round. After qualifying starts we will be shutting off team edits until the points are added after round one.

A big change for this year is dynamic rider pricing. Riders’ salaries will start the season based on their historical results and some insider insights, but those salaries will get updated after each round. Riders who are having a good season will rise in price over time, and riders who are struggling will drop in price.

If you haven't already, you can create your team ready for round one here.

How to Follow the Racing?

Tune in to Pinkbike to catch all the first-round Fort William coverage throughout the week with results, photo epics, bike checks, race analysis and more.

Pinkbike Fantasy Downhill League in Association with Five Ten


NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Purchase will not increase your chances of winning. The Contest begins on 18 March 2024 at 09:00:01 a.m. PDT and ends on October 6, 2024 at 11:59 PM PDT. Anyone can participate in the Pinkbike Fantasy Downhill League Game but the The Pinkbike Fantasy Downhill League Contest whereby participants can win prizes (“Contest”) is open only to legal residents of Australia, Canada (except the Province of Québec), Germany, United Kingdom, and 50 United States and DC who are 18 years of age or older and the age of majority in theirjurisdiction of residence. The Contest begins on 18 March 2024 at 09:00:01 a.m. PDT and ends on 6 October 2024 at 11:59:59 PM PDT. *5,000 USD cash portion of the grand prize will be awarded in a form of a check if the winner is from US or Canada; and will be awarded as a bank wire transfer if the winner is from Australia, Germany or UK.

Winners outside of the United States will receive the cash prize in their local currency as of the date of prize award according the current foreign exchange rate. If the Grand Prize winner is from Australia, Canada, Germany or the UK, s/he will have to provide their bank wire transfer information at a duly licensed financial institution in order to receive the Grand Prize. See Official Rules for full details on eligibility requirements, how to play, and prize description. Void in Province of Quebec and where prohibited. Sponsor: Outside Interactive.

Author Info:
edspratt avatar

Member since Mar 16, 2017
3,233 articles

  • 12 0
 Not all heroes wear capes
  • 1 0
 YMMV, that site works well when it works but it doesn't always work well. Best of luck to you
  • 1 0
 @MikeGruhler: Do you know if you can't watch replays on this site?
  • 1 1
 @vesania: can't remember honestly. Maybe? Sorry brother. Sounded like from comments last year depending on where you are at and your service kinda dictated your experience. I got through 2 races and bailed. Figured it's best to spend the money and try and support the broadcast so hopefully they stick with it and it brings in the kind of money this sport deserves.
  • 29 0
 I’am a team manager (fantasy league). Is there a list of starters floating around?
  • 17 0
 I'm looking for it too. As per usual, the UCI page seems to be broken. I'm trying to confirm if some of my riders are actually even racing.
  • 11 0
 @lyfcycles: UCI can't even run a website. How do we not have a better home for DH, Enduro and XC yet? Leave UCI to roadies....
  • 4 0
 I've found on the UCI world series website, on the Ft Bill page, a document called the "Racebook" - here it says that final rider confirmation takes place today 9-11 GMT.
  • 20 0
 The freaking goat has won Ft Bill freaking 7X! Hopefully we'll be treated to a Minnaar v Pierron battle royal.
  • 11 0
 It doesn't seem that long ago I found this guy Ben Cathro on YouTube talking about the races (and midges) at Ft William... I remember wishing that someone, like Pinkbike, would pick him up and pay him to make great content. Love that that happened!!!
  • 12 0
 No mention of Ethan Craik....tch tch Ben !!!!.............Portuguese Downhill Nationals, he beat both Bruni and Vergier.......surely one to watch ?
  • 2 0
 $570k though.... hmmmm.
  • 4 0
 @nateb: First rider on my team
  • 6 0
 @lewiscraik: your son?
  • 1 0
 @nateb: nope, but have been following Ethan for a while.
  • 13 2
 Good! Now please fire Rick, change semi to LCQ, and make it all free to stream
  • 3 3
 haha, make it free and raw again... back to baggies, tape flapping around the track, the track detreating though the weekend and between runs, massive rocks on track randomly and freecaster.
Its way more professional in 2024 than its ever been, this is the biggest Fort William build ever and the teams are completing 3 days of green screen booked to get them though with 3 different photographers/videographers, make up for best shots etc. Some of the new stuff on track and mid track big screen should be really cool too.
The sport is being elevated to a new level of professionalism at the moment. Lets hope the rise continues.

(I have just done 3 days volunteering next to the green screen room and the prep that went in and content will be so cool for the spectators this year at the event and online)
  • 10 0
 were fucking back babyyyyyy downhill seasonnnnn
  • 9 0
 I think PB is giving the casual FL players too much help. I've put my life into researching this Fantasy Sport.
  • 7 0
 Really nice stacked bar charts to illustrate the collection of last years points! Data Analysts unite!
  • 2 0
 I'd like to buy a "J" for the second entry under Elite Men's.... -ackson Goldstone Smile
Free would be better though.
  • 5 0
 First year in the last 15 not watching live coverage. It’s not that I don’t want to pay (had GCN+ last year) but the cost this year is way too much to justify. Bummed Frown
  • 4 0
 Ugh, maybe I hallucinated that semifinals were going away - I thought I had heard a podcast mention it.
  • 2 0
 I've read all about how to stream in the US with Max + add on but haven't seen any mention of replays. I assume they will be available on the channel but it would be nice to know. I rarely get to watch live.
  • 1 0
 Just learned that the BR package is included with all Max plans for free for an unknown limited time while they work the bugs out. I previewed the upcoming events and it's there, I'm good to go.
  • 2 0
 They’ve run the UCI XC and BMX racing, and replays are available (just search UCI), so I’d assume DH will as well.
  • 4 0
 There must be some sort of mistake with the weather forecast
  • 10 0
 It's true! I was there this week riding in a t-shirt, for the second year running. I'm starting to think the Scots lie about the weather to make sure the English never go there
  • 1 0
 @TimMog: I thought the weather sucked in entire GB. I mean, Bernard's dog isn't mud-coloured for no reason...
  • 3 0
 Didn't realize how high up Luca Shaw was in the rankings last year, deserves more hype!
  • 2 0
 I didnt realise he finished in top 10 either - slow burning consistency I guess.
  • 5 1
 The Trailforks price increase blows pygmies! Wow ....talk about gouging.
  • 3 0
 If Rude is going to outperform in some track... this is the one.. and him outperforming now is Top 10 or podium.
  • 2 0
 Is he actually racing this round?
  • 1 0
 @paulskibum: I hope so it's on my fantasy
  • 1 0
 @paulskibum: No, he is in Finale
  • 2 0
 Good point, the track length makes it almost like an Enduro stage.
  • 1 0
 @mattomoto: have you seen the team/bikes at FW?... Hanna is racing... don't think they build all the structure only for him and Ryan probably...
  • 2 1
 Downhill being the main show and being on Sunday is actually pretty hopeless for fans in Aus and NZ. It's on in the middle of Sunday night and then we have to get up and go to work on Monday...
  • 2 0
 As a Scot in Aus I agree European afternoon Saturday races used to be best for a beer and a late night.
  • 2 0
 So I signed up for Eurosport premium thinking I would be able to follow everything. But semis on Saturday is no where to be found. Anyone know where to watch the semis?
  • 1 0
 On YouTube like last season probably
  • 1 0
 Also.... 1 less park and ride bus than normal (now only 2), no parking at the event and a large car park closure in Fort William. Its almost like they don't want you to come and watch!
  • 1 0
 The council were setting out some roadworks last night when I went home just north of Fort Bill!!! Couldnt make up the Highland council stuff.
  • 4 0
 Bring back Cathrovision!
  • 2 0
 you didn't mention why Thibaut Daprela went from canyon collective to privateer over night but is still racing a canyon bike
  • 2 0
 What I really want to know is where the F**k to watch in Canada? FloSport can't be the only option
  • 1 0
 Flosport is the only option
  • 1 0
 @paulskibum: yeah, I ended up biting the bullet but I wasn't too pleased about supporting flosport.
  • 3 0
 Very excited.
  • 5 16
flag MasterSlater (May 1, 2024 at 10:23) (Below Threshold)

Are you’re paying $25/month to watch one race per month that used to be free?

also, can I use your log-in?

  • 6 0
 @MasterSlater: I'm paying 9.99 compared to the 8.99 I paid last year. Guessing you can afford it...
  • 3 0
 @MasterSlater: Three bucks a race in june if you already have Max. I can make that work
  • 2 0
 Does Accuweather do Midge forecasting?
  • 2 0
 Midge squadrons will be on rapid alert to deter people all weekend. 9km/h wind velocity isn't enough to ground the mighty midges.
  • 2 0
 Can we have a fantasy league comment filter please?
  • 2 0
 What is the final word on how to actually watch in Canada?
  • 1 0
 Flosports, and it's 200 bucks Frown
  • 3 0
 @NO53LF: and no free semis stream either Frown
  • 1 0
 @brycemcl: yeah realized that this morning... I'm pissed off
  • 1 0
 I have no streaming services other than NF. What do I need to buy in order to watch reliably?
  • 1 0
 My money is on matt walker.
  • 2 0
 Is it 08:00 GMT or DST?
  • 1 1
 Definitely not the topic of this page, but damn BK was consistent last year
  • 2 1
 im bettter
  • 1 3
 No mention of Brook McDonald??
  • 5 0
 Why would he?
  • 2 0
 @handynzl: truth.......
  • 8 0
 He cant mention everyone who wont win in a 5 minute video

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