MOUNTAIN bike star Ben Cathro is hoping a good show in the World Cup event at Fort William this weekend will help kickstart his full-time riding career.
The British downhill champion, who hails from Oban, will have the fierce backing of the crowd as he takes on the best riders on the planet at the Highland track. And Cathro, who runs his own school of mountain biking, would love to catch the eye of a potential sponsor with a spectacular performance on his favourite track.
He said: “I’ve taken part in all but one Fort William World Cup events since 2006 and I can’t wait to get going this weekend.
“I’m from Oban and Fort William is my favourite track. I’ll be giving it my best shot. My aim is to get back in the world’s top 20 as a result of my performance over the weekend. I’m in good form and I don’t feel under any pressure and I always ride best under those circumstances.
“A lot of my family and friends will be in the crowd, so I’ll feed off that positive energy and hopefully give them a day to remember. Having grown up in Oban, this is very much a home course for me. I’m more familiar with this event than any other and that’s why it’s currently the only World Cup event that I take part in.
“I race mainly for fun but I came third in the recent Gravity Enduro event at Innerleithen, so that tells me I’m in good form at the right time.
“This is the third event in the 2014 World Cup series, and I didn’t take part in the first two, so I’ll be looking to make some kind of impact. I take part in a lot of regional events, including the UK-wide ones, and I’m currently leading the Scottish series, but World Cup events is where you really test yourself and compete against the best in the business.”
Cathro, a professional rider and coach, would love to get back on the full-time circuit again – but he needs financial backing. He added: “This used to be my main job but I would end every year with an empty bank account. However, if I was offered a decent sponsorship deal on the back of a good performance at Fort William, I would love to get back in the game again.”
The Fort William stage of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano is supported by EventScotland, VisitScotland, Highland Council, Forestry Commission Scotland and Nevis Range. The event is also sponsored by Alpine Bikes. All competitions take place on or around the Nevis Range ski area and the Leanachan Forest, 9km from Fort William.
As a result of the weather forecast for today, the schedule for day one of the World Cup has been amended.
The forecast is for high winds on Aonach Mor which may affect the gondola, so there will be an earlier start of 7am for downhill practice, with gates opening to the public at 8.30am as scheduled.