FOREST of Dean mountain biker Charlie Hatton was left ‘gobsmacked’ after winning the UCI World Downhill title on Sunday, in the shadow of Britain’s highest mountain Ben Nevis
The 25-year-old Elwood cyclist was only ranked No 17 coming in to the competition in Fort William but stunned the field on the muddy course to win by less than 0.6 seconds
“I’m speechless, it’s absolutely insane,” he said. “I love this track and when the rain comes down, I had a little smile on my face, and I was just like ‘this could be it.’
“We did some good things at the start, we had longer mudguards so my vision was better, we had an extension on the peak for the roll-offs, everything just came together.
“I’m not sure if I’m shaking because I’m cold or I’m nervous or all of the above.”
There were 14 more riders to go after Hatton set a time of four minutes 26.747 seconds.
But when 2022 champion Loic Bruni could only place fourth behind him, and world No 1 Loris Vergier sixth, the wild celebrations began
Austria’s Andreas Kolb took silver with GB’s Laurie Greenland in bronze.
Hatton had never won a World Cup race coming into the event, and admitted: “I knew I was riding well this weekend, but I never ever expected the win. I know Fort William rides really good in the wet. I just attacked the same as Friday (qualifying).
“I had some people in the woods who said that the mud was very thin, so there was still grip out there.
“I just hit all my lines and had a really good run. I couldn’t believe that everyone kept going below my time. I am absolutely amazed.
“It was absolutely crazy! I don’t have the words. I rode well this weekend but I absolutely didn’t expect to win. In the hot seat I couldn’t believe that everyone finished behind me.”