Red Bull Hardline returned to the hills of Dyfi Valley in the north of Wales this weekend, with the world’s best riders taking on one of the toughest downhill mountain bike races. The intense course, built by Dan Atherton, combined gap jumps, giant slab rolls, and tight wood sections. For this year’s Red Bull Hardline 2017 the course was harder than ever before, with sketchy conditions transforming the track throughout the entire weekend.
Riders were caught out by the slippery, steep rocks just before the massive road gap, with many slipping pedals and some unable to stay on their bikes. The long and technical course was too much to handle for some of the riders, with the fastest qualifier Adam Brayton crashing out in the final section on the last run of the day. Course creator Dan Atherton, put in an aggressive run in the final which saw him clinch third place – and with it a bronze chainsaw.
Dan Atherton said: “This year’s Red Bull Hardline was definitely the toughest it’s ever been, from the moment we started building the course we’ve been battling the weather. But all the riders who came have been amazing, it’s been such tough conditions on the course but they all pushed hard all week and everyone rode awesome. Crossing the finish line for my final run I’ve never felt such relief and the fact that I was third made it even better.”
Despite the 2016 winner Bernard Kerr and 2017 first place qualifier Adam Brayton being favorites for the win, mistakes throughout their runs and a crash for Brayton meant that it was Hope rider Craig Evans who played to his strengths in the final section and finished the course an overall two seconds ahead of Bernard Kerr in second place.
Kerr said: “I’m not feeling great. I didn’t win, so not great. It was so slippy, I think it had just started raining as the rider before I went off and it just went to ice instantly. It wasn’t ideal conditions, I tried to hang on to it and ride smart after that but not quite enough.”
Speaking of his win, Craig Evans said: “I didn’t think I was going to win at all so it’s a crazy feeling. I had bits where I was smooth and I had bits where I was a bit wild but I managed to hold onto it until the bottom. So yeah, I’m buzzing.”
If you didn’t spend your Sunday afternoon watching the event live, you can watch the highlights here.