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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 May 2006, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Bikers put on great Highland show
Samuel Hill
Race winner Samuel Hill competing in the downhill semi-finals
Riders and spectators enjoyed Fort William's fifth staging of the Mountain Bike World Cup event as some 17,000 fans watched the weekend action.

And there was success for Britain on Sunday, with Tracey Moseley and Rachel Atherton finishing first and second in the women's downhill competition.

A total of 580 elite riders were competing at Aonach Mor, the Nevis range and in the Leanachan Forest.

Organisers estimate it will generate about 1m for the local economy.

The sun made a welcome appearance on Sunday but the riders were buffeted by strong winds at the top of the course.

Australian Samuel Hill won the men's downhill, ahead of France's Cedric Gracia and Greg Minnaar from South Africa.

Brits Steve Peat, Gee Atherton and Marc Beaumont were next best in the standings.

Competitors and biking enthusiasts had to endure heavy rain and low temperatures on Saturday but that did not dampen the spirits of the crowd.

Frenchman Julien Absalon won a gruelling cross-country race, while Germany's Nina Gihl triumphed in the women's competition.

Michal Prokop and Jill Kintner were victorious in the 4-cross finals.

Jose Antonio Hermida and Florian Vogel finished behind 2004 Olympic champion Absalan, who finished first in a time of two hours, 16 minutes and 33 seconds.

Julien Absalon

And the 26-year winner told BBC Sport: "It was a really tough race but it's one of my favourite courses.

"It's very technical and fast. There are some seriously steep sections!

"I enjoyed it a lot even though it's raining and cold. It was a lot of fun."

Marie-Helene Premont and Irina Kalentieva were second and third in the women's cross-country.

American Kintner was pushed to the limit before winning the women's 4-cross final, coming home ahead of Jana Horakova of the Czech Republic and her compatriot Tara Llanes.

"This is probably one of the most fun races I've had, because it was so tight in that first turn and I got to battle a little bit," said Kintner.

"It was definitely a good race and even though it was raining I had the best time ever.

"It makes it a little more challenging, it adds that element of surprise."

Czech Prokop was a convincing winner of the men's final, finishing clear of American Brian Lopes and Chris Kovarik of Australia.

Mike Jardine from Rare Management, organisers of the events in Lochaber, said: "This year's event will also be a final dress rehearsal for the 2007 World Championships - which is likely to be at least twice as big as the World Cup in terms of spectators and competitors, with live global TV coverage.

"We've got such a good team and the spectator support is so strong that I'm sure Fort William will once again deliver."


SEE ALSO:
Bumper entry for bike world cup
24 May 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Town gears up for bike world cup
01 May 06 |  Scotland
Cycling fans urged to book early
18 Apr 06 |  Scotland
Bikers compete in mountain event
10 Sep 05 |  Scotland
Competitors get on their bikes
31 May 03 |  Scotland


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