Fort William World Cup, MTBcut 2011

June 09 2011

It’s been a decade of speeding up the road to Fort William, spending a small fortune at Westmorland services, the swerve as you look at the view over Erskine Bridge, the guaranteed awe of Glencoe as it towers above you, bagpipes in the lay-by, cacophonous but inviting as you make your way past mountain and loch to the wild splendor of the Nevis Range.

Glen Coe Orange Bikes Fort William World Cup

The road to Fort William; how can you fail to get excited, pure magnificence...

Entering the site the glamour of the race trucks, the enthusiasm of the dirtbag privateer, the rabid hoards of sticker grabbing locals, the friendly background noise of overzealous commentating: The sights and sounds of the World Cup haven’t lost the sheer excitement and atmosphere that make this round the rider’s favourite. The drama that annually unfolds on Aonach Moor builds a sense of anticipation matched at no other venue...

Fort William World Cup Orange Bikes

Never mind scratch and sniff, it's the noise you need to hear...

Ten years ago Kovarik powered down a very different course, but the lasting memory was a 14 second win, a truly outstanding feat putting Fort William and flat pedals firmly on the map. Since then we’ve seen Tracy Moseley win four times, Chausson once, Jonnier three times, and Kintner dominate in 4X. Gracia take a win and stretch out a suicide no-hander on the Tissot jump, Minnaar power a Honda to first place, Sam Hill make his mark on the scene with two consecutive wins, Ruaridh Cunningham take the Junior World Champs and team Mojo pulling out the skinsuit.

Orange Bikes Fort William Steve Peat 2005 224

The most iconic win at Fort William; Steve Peat 2005.

Can anyone win at Fort William who hasn’t already taken a World Cup round? It seems experience is still king when it comes to racing the five minute track. The local Scottish contingent providing the most likely outside threat to the top twenty, with team MTBcut as prime mega pinners in the local battle for glory…

Joe Barnes Fraser McGlone Ben Cathro MTBcut Fort William

Joe Barnes, Fraser McGlone and Ben Cathro, team MTBcut...

Joe Barnes is the main man when it comes to trail riding, throwing his Five and Patriot around incomprehensible turns and boosting lines hard enough for a DH setup. A Fort William local, Joe looked smooth through practice as he hopped and jumped his MTBcut team bike down the hill. Many of the top riders barrel though the rocks, hitting the terrain hard and fast, Joe seems to glide effortlessly, light on the pedals and heavy on the mullet…

Joe Barnes, MTBcut, Fort William 2011

Joe Barnes is fast on a bike and inspirational on the hair style... 

Fraser McGlone is the new guy on the team, racing his inaugural World Cup in South Africa he’s already shown himself faster than many a seasoned pro. Already the Junior to beat, Fraser has looked at home on his new bike, riding hard for 2011…

 Fraser McGlone MTBcut Orange Bikes Moelfre

So many wins already in the bag, Fraser is a force for the future... 

What’s left to say about Ben Cathro? Ben’s the hero of the highlands, consistently fast and stylish, he’s a great rider to watch and always a threat on a hard and fast track. Careering through the rocks, Ben is a master at keeping speed…

Ben Cathro MTBcut Orange Bikes Fort William 2011

Cathro, always a challenger, and wearing a neck brace for interviews...

Qualifying didn’t go too well for the MTBcut team with Joe having a mechanical issue and his transmission jamming. Essentially running chainless, Joe felt confident he could pump and jump his way to qualification. Entering a flat section Joe tried to hit a berm harder than usual to get maximum boost and keep his speed; he went down hard.

Joe Barnes Orange Bikes MTBcut Fort William World Cup

Joe Barnes permanently hovering on his local track...

Fraser rocketed down to the deer fence looking at home on his prototype 322. Flying into the woods Fraser kept it steady and dropped in through the boardwalk, only to go down in the awkward mid section below. Off his bike and frustrated, there was no way Fraser could make up the time, a confidence knock but one of those experiences all the top riders have had to face at one point or another.

Orange Bikes 322 MTBcut World Cup

Fraser McGlone on the charge above the deer fence 

Ben fared better through qualifying and back on his old 225, did enough to achieve 25th place, losing nothing in time despite the mid-track disappearance of his saddle. Lots of questions about his bike setup, it wasn’t an easy decision to move back to the 225, but after cracking his 322 and not producing a 224-Evolution big enough for High Tower, Ben felt the 225 was the most familiar emergency setup to race.

Orange Bikes 322 Fort William World Cup

Dry and loose, Cathro on the charge... 

The full MTBcut team were in attendance to support Ben come race day, with Derek McGlone being the legend he is on technical duties. Ben was pretty chilled and composed, his roller skills being particularly impressive.

Ben Cathro Orange Bikes MTBcut Fort William 322

If you've never tried it, give rollers a go... 

An earlier start time than he’s used to at Fort William, Ben was pretty determined to keep it together and ride towards the edge, not over it. The weather held all weekend keeping the top of the track loose and dusty. Ben was in the zone for a good run.

Orange Bikes 322 Ben Cathro Fort William]

Toning down the looseness, Cathro keeping it clean... 

Ben didn't make any major mistakes, smooth and solid but without taking the risks that have seen him lose seconds in the past. Doing enough for an impressive 19th place, Ben climbed up the ranks from qualification to challenge the top 20. Ben did an awesome job and although he was happy with his composure, you couldn’t help feeling he regretted not getting wild. Watching back the videos from the weekend, you’ve got to ride a fine edge to get down the top of the Fort William track ahead of the rest, the gamble is how far to push it. Ben should be pretty pumped with his result, and hovering in 26th in the overall World Cup rankings, his consistency should see more impressive results.

Ben Cathro Orange Bikes 322 Fort William

Dropping into the netting, Ben making light work of the road gap... 

Never a disappointment, the podium at Fort William brought a few suprises, solid results from the usual suspects, but a couple of wildcard results. Minaar took a convincing third win, with Danny Hart and Brook MacDonald finishing off the podium. Want an idea of just how close some riders get to the edge? Danny Hart provides a masterclass in riding your luck...

 

 

So what next for the MTBcut crew? They’re already in Leogang for the next round of the UCI World Cup, looking forward to another weekend of thrills and spills in Austria...

 

In the mean time, here's the best of the rest from John Chennells behind the Orange Bikes lens...

 

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