The 2012 Mountain Bike World Cup series concluded on Saturday with the seventh and final round of the Downhill in Hafjell, Norway. Rachel Atherton won the women's competition and overall title.
The Hafjell track is new to the World Cup, but has already drawn strong praise from riders for its varied and technical terrain. After rain earlier in the week, the course dried considerably for a sunny and windy race day.
American Jacqueline Harmony
, tenth fastest in qualifying, set the first sub-4:25 time for the women, a time that proved to be strong enough for fifth, and her first podium appearance. Harmony held the Hot Seat for two riders before Canadian national champion Casey Brown knocked over 10.5 seconds off to take the lead. Brown held the lead for four riders until the newly crowned world champion, Morgane Charre, bumped her by nearly two seconds.
However, everyone was waiting for the final three riders to come down, which included the two who have been battling for the World Cup title all season: Atherton and Emmeline Ragot. Ragot qualified third fastest, and came through the speed trap significantly faster than anyone else, the first to beat Atherton's qualifying time with 4:03.828. Manon Carpenter was the second fastest qualifier, but crashed hard in the middle of her run, leaving it up to Atherton.
had finished a disappointing fifth at the world championships, struggling with back problems and, at the first split Ragot was ahead by three-tenths of a second. But the British rider put in a brilliant lower half to her run, to win by 2.283 seconds, and take her first World Cup overall title since 2008.
"I am so happy the race is done," Atherton revealed. "The track was really hard, really challenging and really physical. I was probably the most scared I have been all year. I am really tired, I pushed all the way. It is an awesome track. I am really happy."
"It is cool because I haven't won the overall title since 2008, with all the injuries I've had. It is cool to finally be back at the top. I missed out at the World Championships last week with an injury. It is just an amazing feeling, it hasn't quite sunk in yet."
Atherton won the 2012 title with 1450 points, despite missing the first round, with Ragot 140 points back, followed by the absent and injured Nicole Myriam with 892 points.
Women Time Gap All photos by Keith Valentine
1 Rachel Atherton (GBr) GT Factory Racing 04:01.5 0
2 Emmeline Ragot (Fra) MS Mondraker Team 04:03.8 2.283
3 Morgane Charre (Fra) Passion Velo.fr 04:10.4 8.853
4 Casey Brown (Can) PerformX Young Guns 04:12.2 10.692
5 Jacqueline Harmony (USA) Eco-Sphere.com 04:23.8 22.271
6 Petra Bernhard (Aut) Alpine Commencal Austria 04:26.9 25.399
7 Anita Molcik (Aut) 04:27.4 25.893
8 Anita Ager-Wick (Nor) 04:28.4 26.848
9 Tahnee Seagrave (GBr) FMD Racing 04:29.6 28.079
10 Jessica Stone (GBr) Unior Tools Team 04:30.3 28.74
11 Marianne Ruud (Nor) 04:32.3 30.787
12 Caroline Sax (Fra) Team Lac Blanc / Solid / Batibois Alsace 04:32.6 31.074
13 Céline Gros (Fra) Team Morzine - Avoriaz / Haute - Savoie 04:34.5 32.934
14 Manon Carpenter (GBr) Madison Saracen Downhill Team 04:36.7 35.138
15 Harriet Rucknagel (Ger) 04:38.0 36.454
16 Sophiemarie Bethell (NZl) 04:39.4 37.833
17 Mélanie Pugin (Fra) Team Morzine - Avoriaz / Haute - Savoie 04:40.3 38.787
18 Lina Skoglund (Swe) 04:51.7 50.154
19 Veronique Sandler (NZl) 04:52.8 51.283
20 Gabriela Williams (Cze) CG Racing Brigade 05:03.9 01:02.4
Final World Cup Standings
1 Rachel Atherton (GBr) GT Factory Racing 1450 pts
2 Emmeline Ragot (Fra) MS Mondraker Team 1310
3 Myriam Nicole (Fra) Commencal / Riding Addiction 892
4 Tracey Hannah (Aus) Hutchinson United Ride 732
5 Emilie Siegenthaler (Sui) Scott11 705
6 Morgane Charre (Fra) Passion Velo.fr 546
7 Petra Bernhard (Aut) Alpine Commencal Austria 511
8 Floriane Pugin (Fra) Scott11 500
9 Manon Carpenter (GBr) Madison Saracen Downhill Team 500
10 Anita Molcik (Aut) 480