Gee & Rachel Atherton Targeting 2022 Racing Returns

Jan 26, 2022 at 6:58
by James Smurthwaite  
Photos: Jack Tennyson

Gee and Rachel Atherton have announced they are targeting a 2022 racing comeback in a team release from Continental Atherton today.

Rachel hasn't raced in a World Cup since she ruptured her Achilles tendon in Les Gets, 2019. Following a long rehab process from a brutal injury, Rachel also announced her pregnancy in February 2021 and gave birth to her baby daughter Arna in August. Five months on, Rachel is apparently back on her downhill bike and it looks like she could be back between the tapes later this year.

Rachel said “Getting back to the races is a huge driver, to be on the podium again would be the dream. I feel amazing on the bike but the strength and fitness are coming a bit more slowly! I’m just taking things one step at a time, I’d like to race some UK Nationals first then we’ll see where I’m really at!”

Gee Atherton has also faced a lengthy rehab after his crash filming 'The Knife Edge' project in June. The crash left him with multiple injuries including, "including broken ribs, multiple fractures and breaks to his femur and wrists." His rehab is apparently going well and he is eying being back between the tapes soon. He said, "I’m missing being part of the action at the races and I’ve already got some big filming projects planned so I’m flat out on the rehab!"

Two New Faces Join Continental Atherton

Joining, Gee, Rachel, Charlie Hatton and Andreas Kolb on the Atherton team in 2022 will be two new riders, first year Junior Dominic Platt and Red Bull Hardline shredder Jim Monro.

Dom spent 2021 cleaning up the UK domestic scene as part of the Atherton Academy and will graduate into the Factory team with the blessing of Dan Atherton. Dan said “Dom is a natural racer. I’ve ridden with him loads at Dyfi and not only does he have natural talent but he’s always willing to put in the graft”

The second addition to the team came through another Atherton pathway but one less proven than the Atherton Academy. 20 year old Jim Monro moved to the Dyfi three years ago (the minute he finished his GCSEs no less) in a bid to push on his racing and to help Dan develop the bike park. As part of the Dyfi dig crew Jim’s work ethic and riding skills earned him a 2021 invite to Red Bull Hardline. Jim grasped the opportunity with both hands and delivered a stand-out performance, moving another step closer to his dream of World Cup racing. Gee Atherton said “We’ve always joked with Jim that he’d ride Hardline one day but I don’t think he ever took us seriously. He was always so flat out building that he’d never ridden a single feature, he was awesome!”

bigquotesAll riders will start the season onboard a final prototype of the mullet version of the AM200 with plans for the frame to go into full production in Spring . There has been a lot of excellent work over the off-season, both from the riders and the design team, so we’re chomping at the bit to hear the start beeps in Lourdes.Dan Brown, Team Director and Atherton Bikes CEO


  • 541 3
 "now line yourselves up miserablest to happiest"
  • 7 3
  • 26 2
 You're allowed to be miserablist when you're 40..I've been there!
  • 3 1
 OMG Awesome!
  • 40 33
 Some people just don’t project happiness, doesn’t mean they’re not.

And happy people can be suffering internally. Worth noting
  • 4 1
 Too funny.
  • 11 4
 Resting bitch face is a a thing, and some people just smile because they dont understand
  • 31 1
 What you on about, that's the biggest smile I've ever seen Dan give.
  • 10 7
 He owns and manages a bike park and rides all the time...He must be so depressed. Who cares that he doesn't fake a smile.
  • 5 1
 To be fair his just hit 40 like myself and I am not gushing with smiles either
  • 9 6
 comment of the week, shut it down, we are done here
  • 11 1
That’s bloody priceless mate I had to scroll back up to the top to see what you meant and yeah I couldn’t stop laughing lol
  • 2 10
flag FarmerJohn (Jan 26, 2022 at 12:09) (Below Threshold)
 all of the diversity right there, way to go
  • 6 0
 @tomo12377: 40 was rough. Approaching 50 and it’s kicking ass. Hang in there.
  • 2 0
 Strangely enough, Dan always seems to be the happiest most humble guy. Digging and riding day in and day out. He’s definitely got the RBF going on though!
  • 6 0
 @Trudeez: Yeah it bothers me when people talk about him like that. It's been asked in interviews a few times and both Gee and Dan say that's just the face they have, doesn't mean they're unhappy. They're clearly passionate about what they're doing, they've achieved great things and they're giving back to the younger riders. If there is one thing that deserves a mention, this is it. He gets to do what he loves to do so I trust he's happy. Don't need a fake smile to prove that.
  • 2 0
 @Trudeez: Yeah it bothers me when people talk about him like that. It's been asked in interviews a few times and both Gee and Dan say that's just the face they have, doesn't mean they're unhappy. They're clearly passionate about what they're doing, they've achieved great things and they're giving back to the younger riders. If there is one thing that deserves a mention, this is it. He gets to do what he loves to do so I trust he's happy. Don't need a fake smile to prove that.
  • 3 0
 @MonsterTruck: Celebrating(?) a b-day close to 50 this week, but riding skill is still improving, so I'm gonna knock a decade off; why not? I thought I was a genius with my "age is only a mental construct" epiphany and my wife says, "yeah, women have been doing that forever." Still stoked to be under 40!
  • 1 0
 Morning coffee with Pinkbike...and a good laugh. Cheer, mate!
  • 1 0
 Dans just bummed his shoes dont match...
  • 4 0
 @vinay: I bought one of Gees old commencals years ago, chatted on the phone to him on several occasions..he's a friendly, approachable, chatty chap..not miserable at all.
  • 1 0
 lol i had to scroll back up to have a look
  • 118 0
 This family is a dynasty. Rachel will come back and be a threat, I'm sure of it. Gee racing? unbelievable man of steel.

And I can hear Dan now, "I'm not wearing red shoes, not going to happen."
  • 5 0
 Rachel vs Myriam Nicole could be sooo eppiiiiic! Gee puts the Hard in hardcore, no doubt! Brrraaaap!!! Yeeeeooooouuuu!
  • 4 0
 I can't wait to see Rachel racing against her daughter - it could happen!
  • 57 1
 I'd really like to see Rachel get that all time wins record. She deserves it.
  • 37 0
 I for one don't mind if they come back or retire from racing. The rainbow cuffs they can add to their kits say all you need to know about Gee and Rachel. Dan is probably the worlds best known trail builder. The Atherton name will live on in the industry whether on the back of a jersey or not...
  • 2 0
 Agree. Exciting news for sure!
  • 5 0
 I have absolute faith in Rachel's ability to get back to the top and dominate again if she wants to.
Gee on the other hand, I'm not so sure he's still got it. Last race win was years ago - was it the world champs in 2014 or something? That said, it would be beyond awesome to see him really give it a proper go one more time. I'm a big believer in mind over matter. If his head is truly back in the game I think he can do it. It would be one hell of a comeback.
  • 8 0
 @jaame: Gee's last wins were 2 UK Nationals in 2019, Hardline in 2018 and also a second at a world cup right before hardline. I don't think he will but would be great to see him back up there.
  • 1 3
 @steveh951: I concur. That was the World Cup that Maes Dogg won yes? Was that a wet race?
That counts as a result for me.
Nationals and Hard Line don’t count because all the top dogs aren’t there and those that are don’t try 100%. (Bernard Kerr isn’t a top dog because he’s never won a World Cup race).
Anyway I digress. Gee is one of my fave riders and I would love to see him back at the top.
  • 26 0
 Gee is an animal. That is all.
  • 4 4
 Who just happens to look 10 years older after his recent crash.
  • 27 0
 @pioterski: He spent a lot of time recovering in Stoke on Trent. It does that to you.
  • 4 0
 @pioterski: he's spent months in rehab which means he's probably lost some weight and that always ages people. Can't wait to see him (and Rachel) back between the tapes.
  • 23 0
 Dan apparently didn't get the orange shoes memo…
  • 9 0
 that's why he looks so P!ssed... Smile
  • 10 0
 It was probably hard enough to get him into that kit
  • 19 1
 Would love to see Rachel win again, Has a mother ever won a world cup race ????
  • 110 3
 Yes- Amaury Pierron - he's one crazy mother!
  • 13 1
 That would be one hell of an achievement! I’m thinking of Serena Williams here, how dominant she was before pregnancy, the best of all times, and what she does after giving birth. I think it shows how challenging getting back to high level competition in sports is challenging for women who gave birth. The body is hurt and changed, sleepless nights, focus is different, time is rarer, values changed, etc. If she can get anywhere near the top again, my respect for her will just get a step higher, and it’s already sky high!
  • 4 0
 Many good examples in xco, Ghun Rita comes first in mind and others. I dont remember if she won but she had decent seasons after her motherhood.
  • 5 0
 In XC Gunn-Rita Dahle definitely has and there my be others. In DH I remember Leigh Donovan getting having a go at the 2010 Worlds, I think she was on the hotseat for a bit and finished 8th in the end. Can't wait to see Rachel race 2022. Wish her and the team success in the coming season.
  • 2 0
 @Clem-mk: I was just trying to do a quick google search and it seems that there are many examples of women coming back to the sport after having a child but I couldn't find any examples of any who won a WC race. This was admittedly not a very exhaustive search.
  • 22 0
 I do not think so, but, Rachel could be the first.

My missus was retired for 9 years from elite DH, in 2010 at 40 she got a wild hair while owning her clothing store and working 60hr weeks "Hey Stik, I wanna race world champs in MSA, 2010".....our daughter was 4, we we're busy...I thought it was stupid idea.
She ended up qualifying for worlds team, she came down first in the finals because she had no points, sat in the hot seat forever! ended up 8th I think, was the first american that day, so not a win, but pretty awesome that a business owner and mom could do that. I think Rachel had a shit run that day, she was right ahead of Leigh in 7th...i've got a pic of Leigh sitting on hot seat with our daughter (who had face paint from the pit carnival) and rachel did not look stoked to see a mom sitting there who she barely edged out haha, but like i said, I think Rachel had a shit run.

Point being, Rachel is much younger, Rachel is rachel and will be a threat.
  • 1 0
 @stiksandstones: jeez they were good times, prob the best, Vanessa and Anne carro as well , hope your all well,,
  • 3 0
 @Superburner: shit, missed the LD part there before I posted below.
I just threw up a couple pics
  • 2 0
 @stiksandstones: That story was yours to tell and you told it better.
I do remember your daughter with the face paint and Rachel not looking super happy, which is kinda funny now. I’m pretty sure her perspective on that day is a lot different now.
  • 4 0
 @Superburner: haha, thanks. Leigh and Rachel had a chat at Leogang 2019, finish area, Sven Martin took a fantastic picture of them 2, perhaps the GOAT (Rachel) and someone who never achieved GOAT status (Leigh, she is the GOAT in my book haha) sharing some motherly wisdom.
That conversation was between them, about life and what not, Leigh really enjoyed that chat.
Rachel is a f-ing bad ass and changed the game of modern DH, just like ACC did before her.
  • 1 0
 @stiksandstones: Thats so rad man!!
  • 1 0
 @Clem-mk: @sino428: Gunn-Rita Dahle has WON a UCI world cup XC 15th July 2018 2018 Mercedes-Benz UCI World Cup XC #5 Vallnord.
  • 3 0
 @finelytunedride: @Clem-mk @sino428
I can't believe I forgot, yes, a mother has won a world cup DH, don't remember the year (92?), But Regina Stiefl won a few world cups I think, and we were always tripping as 20-something yr olds "Damn, shes a mom! and winning world cups".
  • 10 0
 I picture Rachel racing with her daughter in a baby bjorn showing her how it's done - and still winning of course.
  • 6 0
 I think the mental side will be tough for Rachel. Bike racing is such a selfish sport, and the mental side/ risk aversion changes big time with a baby. Look at Willow Koerber after she tried to race post kid, and that was just XC.

Gee on the other hand will carry on until he turns to dust...
  • 1 0
 Bike racing and surfing are the two top selfish sports in my book...or fishing too if you consider it a sport. There are a few country songs about the fishing thing...but they basically apply to all 3.
  • 7 0
 I would love to watch Rachel and Valentina battle it out over a season. Old guard versus a young blood. Could be epic!
  • 2 0
 Vali would be honored, and star struck haha, that is her MTB hero.
  • 2 0
 Sounds like it's gonna happen. DH is the greatest sport on earth.
  • 6 0
 Stoked to see both Gee and Rachel back on the race course. 22 is gonna be a great year for racing!!
  • 3 0
 If Rachel wasn’t the most dominant force in woman’s DH prior to 2020, I would not have such faith in her ability to get right back on the podium.

Even if she is slower than her previous form, she’ll still be faster than most. Give’em hell, Rach.
  • 6 1
 The earthquake I just felt must have been nature's reaction to the news of Gee's comeback
  • 4 0
 Honestly do not know which comeback of the 2 is more impressive. I would have called it quits if I had gone down either of the roads those 2 have
  • 4 0
 Well, white gear and English mud don't mix very well... unless you want a kind of "brown camo" in the mix. Big Grin
  • 4 0
 If the Athertons were a band, Dan would play bass. he's just got that look
  • 3 0
 Dan's just pissed because they 'forgot' to send him the red shoes only email!

Joking aside Dan is a top bloke & super friendly at Dfyi.
  • 4 0
 Did NOT see that coming for either of them
  • 2 10
flag Edendino (Jan 26, 2022 at 11:49) (Below Threshold)
 That what happens when you don't sell enough bikes...
  • 5 1
 Good to see Dan has cheered up!
  • 1 0
 The first family of DH. Whatever the Atherton's do, it ain't half ass. This news is good news, and it don't matter if they are at the point end of the leaders, in DH. It's It's goddamn Atherton's! Fooking legends!
  • 3 0
 I thought UCI banned lycra kits?
  • 2 0
 They need to do an Atherton Academy docuseries like the old Atherton Project.
  • 3 1
 Calling it now. Arna Atherton will be the junior world DH champ in '38.
  • 77 0
 Just a anecdote from personal experience, when people say this stuff. I am a long time bike industry person, all our friends are bike people, bike bike bike, my wife is MTB world champ, world cup champ, mtb and bmx hall of fame racer Leigh Donovan. Our daughter Grace is 16 now. Her entire childhood was spend at races, festivals, shows, events. She had a bike as soon as she could kick her feet of course. Never encouraged to shred, race, just enjoy bikes. But her entire life she heard "your gonna be just like your momma, world champ someday" or "with parents like that, for sure gonna be world champ"...her ENTIRE LIFE.

Now, people mean no harm when they say this stuff, meant as a compliment, but, I think part of that has to do with why she really wants nothing to do with bikes haha. There is built in pressure to be amazing at it.
Bummer of course, I spent years doing laps with her at the bike park when she was 8-12 yrs old and she's f-ing talented, has a natural gift, but, she's over it now, 16 yrs of being told she was gonna be world champ-when all she wanted to do was ride for fun, she never even entered a race in her life, had no interest because in the back of her head was always "oh my god, according to all these people, I am supposed to destroy the competition??".

There's my dumb story haha, happens all the time to children of legends (calling my wife the legend, certainly not me) and was not a good experience for our kid.

Let kids be kids and let kids be their own version of themselves.
  • 5 0
 @stiksandstones: AMEN! Kids need to do their own thing, and parents need to support them. Mountain biking is one of the most important things in my life, yet I only ask my kids (now 18 and 16) if they want to ride. Never been their thing. But I learned a hell of a lot about basketball , and watched more hours than I can count (I hate the game but gladly skipped rides for it) because my daughter played since she was about 6 yrs old. She is playing in college next year after missing a year to injury, and I will fly across the country to watch her play because my job is to support her goals and dreams, not the other way around.
  • 3 0
 @SprSonik: True true. We never pushed her to ride, she did always enjoy her whistler bike park trips, sometimes our local big bear park, she rode with us in 2019 in Austria at crankworx and had fun, but those comments are super annoying to her haha, so she just didnt wanna bother.
And yeah, like you learning about basketball, we've learned about musical theatre, performances, etc, she got accepted into a performing arts high school, Grammy camp for songwriting and is talented in that field....of course we hope in her 20's she will rediscover bikes and ask us if we wanna go for a pedal? haha.
Well good luck to your daughter! and of course we all wish Rachel and the athertons luck!
  • 7 1
 @stiksandstones: I'm curious your take on younger kids in action sports in general in the age of social media. I see alot of Instagram accounts of younger kids riding and even companies sponsoring kids are younger and younger ages. While some of these kids are extremely talented I've always been a little uneasy about hyping kids up publicly in any sports.

You often see kids riding or doing tricks followed by the inevitable comments about "if he's already doing this trick, imagine what he'll be doing and such and such age". I'm sure these kids love what they are doing but I'm not so sure its a great environment long term.
  • 7 2
 @sino428: I will never forget a guy here on this site telling me how much he rides MX and DH with his sons. When I said I don’t want to push my kids, I want them to enjoy riding, he told me that I am lying to myself and in effect raising “pack fill”. The Social media distorts reality, bullshit we hear in podcasts makes us fee we should be one of those famous people and utilize every opportunity to appear. God I did it myself, posted pics and vids of my little shredders.

All I can say f*ck success. Most of it is BS. Nearly every professional sport is sick and destroys its participants. I don’t mind Athertons doing whatever they want, but I do mind folks telling me that I either worship our idols, aspire to their holyness or I am a waste of air.

I would be happy and honored if my kids would ride with me from time to time. It is the only aport I can guide them in, but in the end, they are free to do whatever they want. My daughter loves Judo and mikeage on the bike. My son likes kickbikes and I fricking hate kods with kickbikes in the skatepark hahah.

If someone like racing, that’s cute, but someone has to do real jobs. I accept this call gladly and take responsibility for it. Inspiration is for noobs.
  • 3 0
 @sino428: I share your observations and as someone involved in 'signing these kids up' earlier and earlier, I think everyone just has to navigate it carefully.
We get parents all the time, asking our brand "so, what does little johhny or katie have to do for you guys?! win races? send images? tag you in images" etc.....I try to keep it simple, "dont be a douche, share the excitement and love of cycling to their other little buddies, the goal is to get a kid on a bike, we don't care about results, or shreddits, just have fun and get more people excited about bikes"....that has really worked, pressure free from the brand-the parents are a whole other story, but im stoked to say most of the parents we've worked with are rad and understand this isn't NFL, etc.
It is kinda interesting, in 2015 or so, I made a big mission to 'get all the groms' and we had the raddest crew of groms and most of them still ride today, few of them are PRO RAMPAGE or PRO RACERS, but I still see them around many of them we still sponsor, but they still love riding bikes and still rip.
We have lost a couple groms to brands with big check books and parents (mostly over zealous fathers) going after the dough, the fame, the glory haha and we just don't really wanna get into bidding wars over it, and good for them getting some cash, the sport is growing, so who knows.
I rambled on, hope it shed some light.
  • 1 0
 @stiksandstones: Thanks for the reply. When I asked for your opinion I actually wasn't even thinking about the industry side. I was thinking about it more from your perspective as the father of a kid with "expectations" from a young age. But of course the industry perspective was very informative too.
  • 2 0
  jimbomonro!!!!! Yes lad!
  • 3 1
 Thay need to hire a good designer. The kits on white are a disaster
  • 1 0
 I would love to see how she could race EWS, this could be a nightmare for all the enduro girls, maybe we will see someday
  • 1 0
 Great news, two fantastic riders.
  • 1 0
 someone forgot to send dan new fancy red shoes
  • 2 0
 Tough-ass family.
  • 1 0
 f**k yes lesss gooo rach & gee and all the crew
  • 1 1
 Rachel has mom strength now. Look out! She's gunna be ripping when she gets back up to speed.
  • 1 1
 You know Rachel kiddio will be riding shot gun for the DH circuit this season.
  • 1 0
 Comeback of the year "Insert name" Atherton
  • 1 0
 Dan "No Smiles" Atherton
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