Find out who came out on top when hundreds of local riders went toe to toe with mountain biking royalty on a challenging downhill course through forests and moorlands in the Emerald Isle.
For all the pre-race talk of the strength of the three-Fox line-up heading into Red Bull Foxhunt 2018 it would be one of their very own who would take the victory.
First to cross the finish line in Rostrevor was none-other than local hero, Colin Ross, who scooped his fourth Red Bull Foxhunt win. He had previously won the race three years in a row between 2014-2016 and charged down the pack as a Fox in 2017.
Ross reigned supreme over what was arguably the most fearsome team of Foxes ever assembled in the form of Gee Atherton, Loïc Bruni and Greg Callaghan. Not only that, but he also finished ahead of the biggest field the race has ever seen, with 550 riders entered for the annual mass-start event.
Second place went to Canada’s Killian Bron and third spot went to Glyn O’Brien, who’s one of the most established riders on the Emerald Isle’s mountain biking scene.
Scroll down to read our exclusive interview with Red Bull Foxhunt 2018 winner, Colin Ross.
Congratulations, Colin. How tough was this one compared to the other editions of Red Bull Foxhunt that you’ve won?
It was so much tougher with the conditions being as they were. The weather was cold, raining, windy – just trying to stay warm was so difficult. Even when you actually got going and on to the track, your legs weren’t good because they’d been stood in the cold for so long and all of a sudden you had to sprint the first three minutes or so of the track. It was so scary because we’d practised in the dry the day before then practised in the dry that morning as well and then we were suddenly having to race on a freshly greased track. It was definitely scarier.
How was your race?
I got a really good start. In the first half I managed to build a decent enough lead and then about three quarters of the way into it I nearly had a massive crash. I got spat off some of the new boardwalk that they’d built and managed to save it for a second before getting bounced off the bike. I was running beside the bike, trying to get it back into order to get back on to again and after that I was just really spooked. I kept telling myself not to throw it away and that I had a lead to defend, but I managed to get back on the bike and take less risks.
With the mass start element, this is a very different type of race. What’s it like when you’re emerging out the other side of it and heading for the line?
It’s amazing. I’ve done it from both sides, both as a racer and a Fox, in different races and it’s definitely amazing to be in the lead but there’s a pressure that comes with that. You can’t keep a clear mind – you’re always thinking that someone is right behind you. All you can think about is not messing up and that’s a terrible way to ride. When you’re riding fast, all you want to think about is what’s in front of you but then all of a sudden you’ve to think about what’s behind as well. Then the track steepens and you’re thinking defensively because you can’t leave room for someone to go up the inside. It’s a completely different kind of racing.
We also caught up with the voice of mountain biking, Rob Warner, who finished the day fifth ahead of all three Foxes including the newly crowned 2018 UCI World Champion, Loïc Bruni.
Hi Rob, how was today?
Today was one of the best days of my life. I was a bit nervous at the start but I was there to race. I had a good start from two or three rows back and stayed right. Once I got on the bridge I could see that there were one or two guys already on the downhill and once I got on to that I just let the brakes go. It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. I went past swathes of riders in the woods, risking it all. I’ve trained quite hard the last week or so leading up to the event and yeah, I think it paid off. I’m back.
How was the whole Red Bull Foxhunt 2018 experience for you?
It genuinely was as good as ever. The thing about the Foxhunt track is that although it’s a mass start event, it’s a proper track. There are big jumps everywhere and blind drops. It’s a proper full-blown, gnarly DH track. I’ll be honest, it’s the best weekend of the year.
When was the last time that you beat a world champion?
1996? Nico Vouilloz was second at the World Cup I won in Kaprun. So, not to sound boastful, but to have beaten two of the greatest French world champions that there’s ever been, well, let’s just say that I won’t sleep tonight. It’s a moment that’s come late in my riding career that I maybe didn’t expect, but I’ve done it and I’ll never forget today.
So yet another race season ends with a suitably large ‘bang’ in the form of Red Bull Foxhunt 2018. The Foxes certainly didn’t have it all their own way and the competition was fiercer than ever. Stay tuned over the next few days for all the video action from Rostrevor.