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Frenchman Loïc Bruni took his first UCI World Cup win as British rider Rachel Atherton confirmed her dominance of the women’s field in Cairns, Australia.
To win this second round of the UCI World Cup Downhill, Bruni and Atherton had to find the fastest way through a dense jungle, the Smithfield rainforest.
Bruni arrived in Queensland with the disappointment of his 14th place at the first #event of the season in France still fresh in his mind. That result was due to a crash rather than performance and this time, it was just a case of getting the bike to the finish line.
One by one, the UCI World Cup pros failed to top local rider Josh Button, who only had his ticket for the #event confirmed a couple of weeks beforehand. Greg Williamson came close and Loris Vergier closer still but Button ended the day an incredible fifth. It was left to Aaron Gwin, the winner in Lourdes, to eventually dislodge him.
All eyes quickly shifted to the green graphics illuminating the split times – Bruni was opening up on track. As in Lourdes, his sheer speed was obvious, but could he hold it together and finally win his first UCI World Cup? Moments later and he’d done just that. Punching the air wildly Bruni celebrated. He leapt into the crowd before draping himself in the tricolor flag.
Australians completed the podium with Troy Brosnan taking second and Mick Hannah rolling back the years and taking third – he won a World Cup a decade before in Vigo.
On the women’s side, Atherton already knew what it takes to succeed in Cairns, having won there in the past. The brutally fast top section was matched by a merciless final sprint to the line. Atherton’s ability to lay down serious power is legendary and come the final sprint she hit the pedals with a vengeance, the result was a time of 3:48.566. Cairns native Tracey Hannahtook second ahead of hard-charging British riders Manon Carpenter andTahnee Seagrave. Atherton leaves the jungle with two wins from two races ahead of her home race, Fort William.
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