Mountain Biking

Tracey Hannah Sets Sights on World Championships After Win at Fort William World Cup

The Australian’s win put an end to Rachel Atherton’s 14-World Cup winning streak

Tracey Hannah is setting her sights on the World Championships in Cairns after a win at Fort William ended her five year wait for a second World Cup title – as well as Rachel Atherton’s dominative winning streak.

We caught up with the Australian after her victory to find her signing the flag of her home nation for a fan. Hannah grew up riding the downhill tracks in Cairns with her brother Mick, who is also a pro, and with World Champs being held in Cairns this year, it’d be a dream come true for Tracey to take the win.

“I’ve definitely achieved one of my goals by winning today,” she said. “Today has been a really hard day in general. It’s probably one of the hardest runs I’ve ever done, but to go home with the win at Fort William is something that you keep with you for life. It’s a prestigious place and winning here is unbelievable.

“My main goal for the year is to be the World Champion for my home track in Cairns. That would be amazing. Racing all the World Cups is pretty huge though so I just hope to keep having consistent results and build on this for the season.”

Hannah clocked a time of 5:39.298 to win the Fort William finals in a World Cup dominated by crashes and carnage courtesy of one particularly tricky muddy section which rain had made near enough un-rideable.

Tracey admitted she had her eye on the section from the start gates: “I had a plan in there, and that was to roll through no matter what – so put your foot off if you needed to, keep moving and just don’t stop. I was pretty happy to make it to the other side without any really bad stumbles.”

She was one of few able to achieve that.

World Champion Rachel Atherton even fell victim to the mud. Rachel qualified in first but came off her bike in the woods during morning practise on Sunday and dislocated her shoulder in the process.

The crash put Rachel out of action and unable to compete in finals, and put an abrupt end to the record-breaking winning streak that had seen her win the previous 14 World Cup races.

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.

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