Windrock Pro Grt Dakotah Norton By Dave Trumpore

Windrock Launches Start of ProGRT

By: Jackie Tyson  March 14, 2018

Washam and Hart Take Early Pro GRT Leads for 2018

OLIVER SPRINGS, TENN. - March 14, 2018 — The first stop of the Pro Gravity Tour (Pro GRT) is in the books after a fast start at Windrock Bike Park March 9-11. For a second season, the Windrock Pro GRT presented by Fox was also the rollout event for the UCI downhill season in North America. Slick and quick conditions developed for the Sunday Pro GRT finals after overnight rain soaked the Appalachian Mountain region of eastern Tennessee.

The mass of big rocks, ruts and turns was dominated in the Women’s Category 1 Elite race by Caroline Washam (SRAM/TLD/Schwalbe/Oakley/FiveTen/Liv) of Mooresville, N.C. for a second year in a row. The Men’s C1 Elite race featured a massive 53-rider field who turned the tricky conditions into a tight finish. British downhiller Danny Hart (Madison Saracen Factory Team), turned in a time of 2:33 to edge out three trailing riders by just one second.

Washam and Hart took the lead in the Pro GRT individual standings with their wins at Windrock Bike Park. The Pro GRT will feature six total events in six states, spanning March to September. Series points are given to top finishers at each event by USA Cycling and used to determine the individual men’s and women’s standings that rank the best downhillers competing in the U.S.

The 30-year-old Washam finished in a time of 3:35, more than 35 seconds ahead of Swedish downhill and enduro champion Josefine Björkman (Giant Sweden), who had the fastest seeding run of the women the day before. Taking a spill on the course and securing third place was Rachel Pageau (Devinci Development Racing), a former Canadian Junior cross-country champion. American Lauren Kinney finished fourth and Canadian Maxine Bergeron finished fifth to round out the podium for the elite women.

Washam, who finished third overall in the 2017 Pro GRT standings, said the key to her repeat win was staying upright and keeping her run smooth.

“(The clay) was a mess this morning,” said Washam about the course becoming a thick mud following the rain. “It definitely played mind games, but you got to get rid of (the nerves) and do your race run.”

For the elite men, the 26-year-old Hart captured the fastest seeding run on Saturday and held off an all-star cast of international riders for the victory. Finishing half a second back for the silver was Dakotah Norton of Atlas, Mich., who was fourth last year at the U.S. Pro Men’s Downhill National Championships. Another two-tenths of a second back was 22-year-old Luca Shaw (Santa Cruz Syndicate) of Hendersonville, N.C. Securing the final two spots on the podium were local favorite Neko Mulally, also doubling as the race director, and World Cup winner Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) of South Africa.

“It’s been an epic week. We’ve run every day but one,” Hart said about testing and training at Windrock for his week in Tennessee. He finished third in the 2017 British Men’s Elite Downhill National Championships. “We’ve tested out new bikes, and mine is a totally new bike. It’s been such a good transition. I’ve just had a good time at Windrock. It’s been a good week, a good routine.”

Mulally, along with Knoxville pro cyclist Sean Leader, created the mountain bike park at Windrock two years ago. It is part of the 72,000-acre Windrock Park in eastern Tennessee. The downhill mountain bike trails consist of 550 acres and nine trails with more than 2,100 feet of vertical drop. Mulally and his staff built new high-speed jumps and berms on the course this year, adding to the famed natural terrain that racers love.

"Bringing a race of this caliber to the United States is something I am really proud of. We had the best riders from around the world competing on a top-notch race track in front of thousands of hard core fans. This gives the sport of downhill mountain biking a lot of momentum in our region,” said a proud Mulally. “It felt exactly like a World Cup. I mean, that’s what we were shooting for.”

Full results are available at the Downhill Southeast website. Event sponsors included Fox, Industry Nine, Adventure Anderson County, Explore Oak Ridge, Worldwide Cyclery, and Carolina Pro Flooring.

The next stop on the calendar comes in April at NW Cup in Port Angeles, Wash., which moved from mid May in 2017 to April 13-15, 2018. The Pro GRT event in Port Angeles, held at the Dry Hill venue, is the first stop in the NW Cup Downhill Race Series.

About USA Cycling Pro GRT

The Pro Mountain Bike Gravity Tour (Pro GRT), which features downhill and some gated events, will launch the professional mountain bike season for a second year at the Windrock Pro GRT in Oliver Springs, Tenn. on March 8-11. The Pro GRT will feature six total events in six states, spanning March to September. Windrock Pro GRT has been upgraded to a UCI Category 1 classification. It will be followed by NW Cup - Port Angeles in Washington, April 14-15, 2018. The next three Pro GRT events are all new to the schedule - Mountain Creek Pro GRT in Vernon, N.J. on May 25-27, NW Cup - Tamarack in Idaho on June 23-24, and Purgatory’s Revenge in Durango, Colo. on Sept. 1-3. The season concludes again at the Kamikaze Bike Games in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. on Sept. 15-16. Follow the series at

Photo of Dakota Norton by Dave Trumpore.