We’ve just heard that Rachel Atherton has withdrawn from the UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Championships having sustained an injury in a crash during the official timed session on Friday morning. She caught her hand on a bank, was spat over the bars and landed hard on her shoulder. X-rays have confirmed a fracture to her left clavicle.
The blow is particularly hard as Rachel has battled to return to fitness this season after dislocating her shoulder at Fort William World Cup in June.
Atherton said: “I was feeling good today, back to my old self, riding strongly and super-confident as I attacked my timed training run. I’m absolutely devastated that the weekend has ended like this but I’ll be cheering on the rest of the British team with all of my heart.”
Iain Dyer, head coach for the Great Britain Cycling Team, said: “As a four time elite world champion and the current rainbow jersey holder, it must be very disappointing for Rachel to be forced to withdraw from these world championships though injury. On behalf of the Great Britain Cycling Team I would like to wish Rachel a quick recovery and we look forward to seeing her back to full strength ready for the new season.”
Will Rachel be back keener than ever next year? She’d already said she didn’t expect to repeat last year’s perfect season and that this year was about enjoying the races – but with two major injuries it doesn’t sound like our idea of fun.
While this is sad news for Rachel, it opens up the podium for just about anyone. Who will win?