Rachel and Gee Atherton bring home Britain's first ever World Championship Gold medal
Valle di Sol, Italy – Today, Downhill mountain bikers Gee and Rachel Atherton, each took victory at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Trentino, Italy – the first sibling double-win ever!
As the baking sun ensured the track was hot and dry, all eyes were on the Athertons, particularly after an incredible display at the recent Mountain Bike World Cup in Andorra (May), when brother Dan also took the win, making it a triple-victory for the history-making family.
But today, the pressure continued to mount for the siblings after both qualified first in Thursday’s seeding session. Despite the family’s fortunes taking a turn for the worse, when eldest brother Dan sustained a broken collarbone in his 4cross qualifying. Nevertheless today was make or break time for Rachel and Gee Atherton.
Rachel was first at the start gate for the Women’s Downhill Final, and as the time ticked down to her race run, it was clear that France’s Sabrina Jonnier was out to prove a point; in fact the reigning World Champ was sitting pretty in the hot seat as Rachel flew out of the start hut for the final run down for the women.
Riding well all week on this super technical track, Rachel was the clear favourite, and when she hit the split time a staggering nine seconds up on Sabrina, she left no doubt she was on the gas and gunning for victory.
Crossing the line an astonishing 11.99 seconds ahead of her closest rival, Rachel Atherton followed up her 2006 Junior World Championship in style with one of the biggest ever winning margins in World Championships history.
Next, pressure shifted directly to brother Gee, who now had to live up to the family name and pull off the double-win, against the super strong World Class field.
Last down the hill Gee had fellow Brit Steve Peat to beat, who in his illustrious career has never won the coveted rainbow jersey. Through the split and Gee was 2 seconds clear, a margin he managed to hold as he shot across the finish line and into the elated Atherton huddle – ensuring the family again made history and became the first to win two Mountain Bike World titles in the same year.
On the podium, both Athertons were proudly dressed in the white and rainbow-striped winner’s jersey, and the pair saluted the Italian crowd and the world. Take note, the Atherton era is upon us and looks set to change the face of downhill mountain biking….