Multiple mountain bike Downhill World Champion Rachel Atherton won't be competing this weekend. Who does that leave as Great Britain's medal hopes?
Multiple mountain bike Downhill World Champion Rachel Atherton won’t be competing this weekend. Who does that leave as Great Britain’s medal hopes?
Rachel Atherton posted the following on her social channels today:
“I have decided I will not be racing this weekend at World Champs in Leogang, Austria 🇦🇹
“As you know, this last year i have been rehabbing my ruptured achilles tendon, an injury that has tested my mental strength to the limit!
‘I knew it would be a long road back to the top, and after intense discussions with my physio of the last 10 years, Doug Jones & the rest of the team, I have taken the decision not to race at the World Champs this year because I am just not 100% since my Achilles rupture.
‘I cannot give less than 100% of myself in a race!
‘This is a really hard decision to make, whenever i have been injured in the past i have rushed back quickly and returned to the top step within months, a gruelling task for the body but a task which i relish and enjoy, i have been working so hard to be ready but unfortunately this time I am just not ready yet, and i can’t risk further injury.
‘This time i need to listen to my body and respect what it has allowed me to achieve over the years, by giving it time to fully recover before i do battle again!
“This sport is a tough game and we must take the ups with the downs, there have been a lot of ups in my career, but also a lot of downs, injuries for me are part of the deal of winning.
“Thanks to my incredible sponsors who are there for the wins 🥇 and also the injuries ☠️
“I want to thank every one of you who has sent me a message or reached out in some way over the last year and indeed over all the years, I really love hearing your stories and get inspired every time so thank you and cheers to Health & Bikes!
“Long May Health be your Wealth
“And GOOD LUCK to all the racers fighting for The Rainbow 🌈 👏✊
What does this mean for Great Britain’s medal chances this weekend?
It was always going to something of a big ask for even a fully healthy Rachel Atherton to get back up to speed for the World Champs. Tahnee Seagrave was arguably always going to be Team GB’s main player in Leogang this weekend. Having said that, you can’t really ever rule out Rachel Atherton, so who knows what might have been?
Regardless, we are where we are and Atherton’s absence now confirms Tahnee Seagrave as Great Britain’s main hope for a medal at Sunday’s World Championships.
Who else might we see on a World Champs podium representing Great Britain this week(end)?
Thankfully there is still plenty of genuine medal hopes for Great Britain. In the XC we have Annie Last obviously, but we also have someone called Tom Pidcock in the Under-23 XC class. Young Master Pidcock may well be more used to drop bars than dropper posts but there won’t be many folk who will be surprised should he make it on to a podium this Saturday.
In the men’s DH downhill the two standout names are previous World Champ Danny Hart (yes, let’s watch that race run again shall we?) and young buck Laurie Greenland. Two of the most exciting racers to watch at the best of times. Both of them will think they can win this weekend. And we’re going to go out on a limb and predict that one of them will be 2020 World Champ.
But which one will it be? We’ll have to wait until Sunday afternoon to find out. We cannot freaking WAIT!