The latest round of the National Downhill Series took place in Fort William last weekend and all eyes were on Joe Breeden's return to racing after a long journey back from injury.
In short, Joe didn't disappoint. In an incredible comeback showing this youngster's determination and talent, Joe took fourth against world-class competition. What's more, junior Morgan Tyrrell took sixth place, coming away hungry for more. IRUK Team Manager and DH elite Olly Morris takes us through the race.
"Fort William is such an iconic race venue in the world of mountain biking," says Olly, "So the team was super excited to get up to the Scottish Highlands and get on our bikes.
"We decided to ride a few days in the week as it was a good time to test, not just in preparation for the National Downhill Series but also the upcoming World Cup in a few weeks’ time! This proved really useful and got us in a great place."
"Many riders came up on the Friday to practise but the gondola was shut due to high winds. This also meant walking the track was tough, so we pedalled up to the new wooded sections where they've laid a crazy amount of rocks! We were ready and raring to go for the weekend.
"The sun came out to play on Saturday and the wind went away so we got stuck into practice. Five runs on the track were the aim, with a different focus for each run. I couldn’t completely find my flow but could see Joe and Morgs building speed and confidence, which was great to see.
"Sunday started wet and practice was still tough for me. There were signs of speed, but I was struggling with maintaining consistency of speed – something I had to be aware of for the race run."
"The story of the weekend was Joe Breeden! He came fourth in his first elite race after only two weeks of riding following that horrible knee-splitting injury last year. I have always been impressed with Joe’s resilience, but this was taking it to another level! To come back from an injury like that and hold pace with some of the best in the world is stunning!"
As for Olly's race? "I rounded off the weekend with a super fun race run but didn’t manage to put the run I know I'm capable of together. Not to worry: I have learned over the years that some weekends just don’t go your way! Morgs tucked into sixth in juniors – I know he wanted a little more, but I'm really pleased with how he's riding.
"Overall we had a great weekend together and I am pleased with how things went for the team. It definitely took the long drive home to recover from this awesome, huge, rough track. See you next time."
Photos: Ian Lean
Joe Breeden – 4th
Olly Morris – 35th
Morgan Tyrrell – 6th