4 years of success
As the Athertons part ways with GT it marks the end of one of the dominant forces in recent mountain biking history. In four short years the partnership has amassed 50 podiums, three World Cup overall titles and three World Championships.
There’s no official word yet on where the Athertons are headed next but you can be sure that the World Cup scene will look very different without them in yellow and black.
Here is our pick of the very best moments of their time together:
A brave new world
The Athertons left Commencal after a five year partnership to join GT in 2012. They joined Marc Beaumont who had shown that the GT Fury was a capable bike following his World Cup win at Val di Sole on it in 2010.
This video harks back to a time when dubstep was the go to soundtrack for a bike video (what were we thinking?!) and hinted at the great things to come for the Atherton/GT partnership.
The 2012 season started badly for the Athertons. Rachel missed the first round due to shoulder surgery and Gee broke his leg leading to eight weeks off the bike.
Rachel turned it all around at round two though. It was her first race on the GT Fury and she took the win on the notoriously difficult Val di Sole track. She went on to win the next four World Cups and take the overall series in her first season with GT Factory Racing.
The Quarry Line
As the 2012 season drew to a close we thought we’d heard the last of the Athertons for the year. What we weren’t prepared for was what Dan had been cooking up in deepest, darkest Wales.
At Revolution Bike Park he had built the Quarry Line – an insane freeride track that swooped down the slatey hillside. The line featured some of the biggest jumps in the UK, if not the world, and left us all gob-smacked at how versatile Gee and Dan were on their bikes.
Designing the new GT Fury
When the Athertons arrived at GT they were still racing on the old Fury. It was the world’s first full-carbon downhill bike but its geometry had started to become a bit dated.
From day one the Athertons had a direct input in making the new bike. This would be longer, lighter, slacker and ultimately faster – everything a modern downhill bike should be. The bike would go on to take the 2013 World Cup season by storm.
Victory on home soil
Despite being among the best British riders of all time, Fort William had always been a bit of a bogey track for the Athertons. Gee had won there once in 2010 but Rachel had never taken to the top step on her home track. Round one of the 2013 season changed all that.
The siblings both won their respective races and sent the partisan Scottish crowd crazy. This was a dream debut for the new Fury downhill bike and one of the greatest moments in the Athertons’ careers.
Gee vs Stevie – the greatest season ever?
The 2013 season proved to be one of the most exciting ever. Gee seemed to have the title sewn up after taking the first two rounds on the trot however a resurgent Stevie Smith enjoyed the form of his life to come back at the end of the season.
The two racers enjoyed a titanic battle throughout the year and the final showdown came at Leogang, Austria. Gee put in a strong run but his time was decimated by Smith who took the win by over a second and the title by 70 points.
Smith may have won the title but the fans were treated to one of the closest finishes to a race season in years.
A winning finish
If the Atherton/GT partnership is remembered for one thing it will be raw success. The statistics speak for themselves – 50 podiums, 3 World Cup titles and 3 World Championships, leaving an unquestionable legacy.
There’s no telling how many more titles could have added in the future but it’s fitting that they were winning until the very end as Rachel clinched her third World Championships in Vallnord earlier this year.
The Athertons not only excelled in the World Cup events but in their own events as well. First came the Foxhunt, in which Gee raced 400 Irishmen (and women) down the Rostrevor downhill tracks. The format has proved so successful that Rachel has now started a female Foxhunt in Edinburgh.
Then there’s Dan’s one-man quest to create the world’s hardest downhill track at Hardline. So far less than 20 people have managed a race run down the fearsome track and the scale of it is simply mind-boggling.