The 'World's fastest mum' plans to race at the upcoming UCI MTB Downhill World Cup race at Leogang
What. A. Race. And what a victory! After a couple of years away from full-time racing, Rachel Atherton is back and straight back on the podium after an incredible performance at the first round of the 2023 UCI MTB Downhill World Cup in Lenzerheide. The win is her 40th World Cup win in a career that’s seen her topping elite podiums for nearly 20 years.
And she’s not done yet, with news just released that hot on the heels of her Lenzerheide victory, Atherton plans to tackle the next round of the DH World Cup in Leogang.
This 2023 season represents a focussed return to racing after the birth of her child Arna in 2021, though she did race the 2022 World Cup in Lenzerheide and placed 6th. The original plan was to race Lenzerheide then take a break to recuperate, return to her home in Wales, and focus on the main goal of the World Championships in Fort William in August.
But the lure of the race tape was too strong, and after her win at Lenzerheide, Atherton decided to continue through to Leogang… though she acknowledges it will be tough, and that the pressure and weight of expectation her win places on her will need to be managed.
“I don’t want to be stupid and take risks; racing back to back is hard enough when you’re fully fit and strong, and I don’t want to get hurt. I have Arna to think about,” she shares, indicating that she doesn’t yet feel she is on top racing form.
“I’m loving my time with the team, being a racer again, riding the AM.200.M, showing the world just how great this bike rides and seeing Andi and Charlie [her Continental Atherton teammates] doing so well.”
“We talked about it all day Sunday, weighing up the pros and cons, trying to decide WHY I’m doing this. Part of me wants to stop now; no more racing, my last race a win, that was always the dream, but I’m here I don’t want to stop. My mum has agreed to stay with us and look after Arna for another week so it is decided…I will go and race at Leogang and just see what happens. A small part of me wishes I didn’t win, because I don’t want any more pressure, I don’t want people to expect me to win or to go well again, I just want to race and ride and be there!”
We expect, however, that in the back of her mind will be the fact that she is only one World Cup win shy of equalling the incredible record of Anne Caro Chausson for most downhill wins, who achieved 40 over her career.
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