Red Bull Foxhunt went off with a bang in Rostrevor with 400 hounds being chased hard by the fox, World Cup Downhill legend Gee Atherton. Photo shooting with this such amazing athlete is always something special and Red Bull Foxhunt race is always more than challenge for every photographer.
This year, the event took a place in the picturesque surroundings of the Mourne Mountains in Rostrevor, County Down on the new tracks at Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails. Race day had started in the worst possible way weather wise with thunderous looking clouds and rain. The course had been drying out on Saturday evening as a glorious afternoon settled into dusk. By the time of Sundays race, conditions were beginning to improve again as the multitude of riders practicing dried out the lines.
The course had something for everyone and a real mix of riders lined out from full on pros to first time racers. The hounds all rode in red foxhunting jerseys making for an interesting spectacle at the finish line as the lone yellow jersey of Gee was swarmed by riders looking to have their photo taken with one of the top riders in the world. Gentleman Gee spent lots of time with his public signing jerseys left right and center and facebook will be alive with selfies featuring him.
Speaking afterwards Gee was buzzing, saying that it was the best Foxhunt yet! Roll on 2014! “The course was incredible, much more technical than in previous years and really leant itself well to the whole Foxhunt concept. It definitely challenged the riders, a lot more interesting”.
WHO IS GEE ATHERTON?
Known across the world of mountain biking as Gee, the middle Atherton sibling has been a sensation in the sport since the age of 15.
In 2004, at the age of 19, Gee won his first Downhill World Cup on the technically challenging track in the Austrian resort of Schladming. A win at this level may have seemed inevitable after his results in the junior categories, including two World Championship medals, but to gain it at such a young age was outstanding. That year he also won the National Championships at his first attempt and has gone on to top podiums the world over, finishing in the top five of the World Cup series every year since, most notably taking gold at the 2008 World Championship alongside sister Rachel, and securing the 2010 Mountain Bike World Cup crown.
With second at the inaugural Red Bull Rampage, the toughest of events to be judged on creativity rather than speed, he demonstrated his all-round talent. Having made a sterling start to the UCI MTB World Cup season with fourth in Pietermaritzburg, Gee broke his tibia in training, putting him temporarily out of action.
Gee recovered to finish 3rd at Val Di Sole, Fort William and Windham and 2nd at Val d’Isere, with 3rd place overall for the 2012 World Cup season and also 2nd at the World Champs. Gee has continued to dominate, taking successive podium places throughout the current World Cup season and taking the national title.
Gee now heads into the off season with an operation scheduled for his ankle this week. The injury dates back to last years Red Bull Rampage and shows the measure of the man who raced a whole season at the absolute top of the Downhill World Cup finishing a narrow second place overall and several wins under his belt.
Visit the section of my web site with the Red Bull Foxhunt event from 2012.