Smith vs. Atherton

We're just hours away from one of the biggest showdowns in DH history.
Stevie Smith pinning qualifying © Sven Martin/Red Bull Content Pool
By Ric McLaughlin

As things stand after yesterday's qualifying, Stevie Smith now leads the UCI World Cup overall by three meagre points. Qualifying points aren't awarded until after the event however which means Gee Atherton still technically leads things.

By bringing his Devinci home in pole position, Smith made sure that today's race will be one of the closest contested deciders in the history of the UCI DH World Cup. This really could go either way...

Atherton started the season in arguably the form of his life. Both domestically and internationally he was unstoppable, winning almost for fun.

During the second half of the season however, Smith was his undoing. The Canadian capitalised on home soil at Mont Sainte-Anne with another win coming in Hafjell, Norway.

He had out-qualified Gee at the Pietermaritzburg World Champs too but crashed come his race run.

When it comes to experience however, Atherton has been here before. In 2010 he won his first (and currently only) overall title in a similar final day showdown with Greg Minnaar. 

Whatever happens today for Smith however, he will still walk away from the 2013 season having had the most successful year of his life.

As Gee rolled out of the finish area a frustrated figure after qualifying, Stevie couldn't have looked more relaxed.

He was making the right 'pretty steady/more in the tank' noises to his team manager, Gabe Fox. But then Atherton has proven his racecraft throughout his career, he'll have known the relative unimportance of qualifying yesterday.

It's too tight to call, either racer could do it and we can't wait to find out which. 

You can watch all the racing LIVE from Leogang here at 3:15pm (CET).

Gee Atherton back up to speed © Lukas Pilz/Red Bull Content Pool
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