Second-placed qualifier Tracey Hannah saw her chance and delivered a run a full 10 seconds faster than French rider Myriam Nicole in second place, and almost 14 seconds faster than Switzerland’s Emilie Siegenthaler in third.
With that kind of speed there’s every chance Hannah would’ve been on top of the podium even if Atherton had been riding.
“I’ve come second a few times in the past year and a half, so I’ve been there,” she continued. “I’ve been consistent. When the time came that someone [other than Rachel Atherton] was going to take the win, I was pretty excited that it was me!
“I didn’t realise [how far ahead I was during the run]. It was a very hard run. I didn’t think about the result, just about doing the best I could do. I’m pretty blown away. I don’t think that I really believe it yet!”
Tracey’s last World Cup win came in Peitermartizburg, South Africa back in 2012, though as she mentioned, she’s had numerous second-place finishes since then.
She’s also had her fair share of injuries too. Hannah has had an abundance of collarbone breaks and spent a bunch of time in hospital and recovering. After her World Cup in South Africa in 2012, she had a brutal crash at Val d’Isere which saw her break her collarbone, femur, bruise her lung and suffer internal bleeding. The recovery began immediately, but this is her first win since then.
Nobody in the mountain biking community will begrudge Tracey a win – her rival racers even hoisting her into the air after she crossed the finish line to celebrate her success.
British star Tahnee Seagrave also fell victim to the mud on the day, being thrown over her handlebars on her way down, and 2014 champ Manon Carpenter only just stayed on her bike through the woods to take fourth.
In the end, the top three were the only riders to roll through the wood section cleanly and completely unscathed, and of them, Hannah was the stand-out rider.
With Rachel Atherton almost definitely missing out on the World Cup at Leogang next weekend, but presumably back in action after that, it’ll be interesting to see if Hannah can build on her victory, and whether Rachel will be back to her best when she does eventually return.