Fort William & Highlands
Home of Ben Nevis, and often described as the Outdoor Capital of the UK, Fort William and its cinematic scenery is a true paradise for bikers.
From Greg Minnaar's record breaking win to the Rachel and Gee Atherton's double home victory - here are five iconic Mountain Bike Downhill moments at Fort William to get you hyped for August!
Downhill and Fort William are like haggis, neeps and tatties. It’s a match made in heaven.
Since hosting its first UCI MTB World Cup event in 2002, the track has become a jewel in the crown on the downhill circuit.
Set in the backdrop of the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, the slopes of Aoanach Mòr have annually welcomed 250 riders from around the world to take on the notorious circuit. In August 2023 Fort William will welcome back the UCI World Championships for the first time since 2007.
Here’s a look back at five iconic moments on the track to get you hyped up ahead of August’s Downhill Finals at Nevis Range.
Five Iconic Fort William Mountain Bike Downhill Moments
Holding a Fort William Downhill career card that was first stamped in 2004, Greg Minnaar is a superstar at Nevis Range.
In 2007, the South African solidified his legend status in Fort William with a record seventh victory on the downhill track. It was a typical Minnaar downhill run - dogged, thrilling, and full of strength and power!
Minnaar, who has four UCI World Championships titles to his name, holds a special place in the Fort William crowd’s hearts. He will be looking to make it a fantastic five Rainbow Jersey’s in August!
There really is nothing quite like a home victory at Fort William. In 2013 the crowd got treated to not one, but two when the Atherton’s claimed a stunning family double.
Rachel Atherton, who is dubbed ‘The Queen of Downhill’, had settled for two 2nd place finishes in 2011 and 2012. In 2013 she managed to finally take the victory in front of a jubilant crowd at Nevis Range. Rachel would go on to win her first of five rainbow jersey’s in South Africa that year.
The day would only get better for the UK crowd as Rachel’s brother Gee claimed victory in the Men Elite Final. It was a fast and furious run, and cemented the Atherton’s as a family to be reckoned with in the Mountain Biking world.
In 2016 the downhill world lost a beloved rider, Steve Smith. Nicknamed ‘Canadian Chainsaw’, Smith was a big personality on the UCI MTB World Cup circuit, and picked up the overall victory in 2013.
Beloved by fans in Fort William, a call went out from the community to honour the rider with a ‘ghost-lap' down Nevis Range. After the UCI and Red Bull got behind the project - on 5 July 2016 the crowd at Nevis Range fell silent as the camera’s tracked an invisible Smith making his way down the mountain. As the camera’s neared the bottom of the track, the crowd erupted. It proved to be a memorable and fitting tribute to an incredible rider.
Although Fort William is gearing up to host the Downhill events in August. This won’t be the first time the rainbow jersey’s will be handed out in Fort William.
In 2007 Nevis Range welcomed the world for the UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships. France topped the medal table, claiming 6 rainbow jersey’s across MTB Cross-Country, Trials and Downhill.
Australia’s Sam Hill and France’s Sabrina Jonnier were the fastest down the mountain that year, leaving Fort William with the rainbow bands for the second time in their careers.
However, the highlight for the Nevis Range crowd was Ruaridh Cunningham who took a stunning Men Junior World Championship win! The home crowd went ballistic as the Scotsman gave the Junior field a lesson on how to handle the Scottish mountain!
Tracy Moseley arrived at the first World Cup in Fort William as a multiple British National Champion. The 2002 UCI MTB World Cup brought a festival atmosphere to Nevis Range and expectations that Moseley could produce something special for the home crowd.
Moseley managed to handle the pressure with supreme ease, arriving into the finishing cauldron with a stunning time. A UK victory in the Women Elite at the first Fort William UCI Downhill World Cup. Fair to say the crowd loved it!
Mountain Bike Downhill at the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships
The Mountain Bike Downhill events will be taking place from 3 August to 5 August at Nevis Range, Fort William.
If you want to learn more about the Mountain Bike Downhill events at the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships - Glasgow and across Scotland, you can find out more via our Mountain Bike Downhill section on our website.