Rachel Atherton triumphed at the season opening Mountain Bike World Cup ©Twitter/UCI_MTB

World champion Rachel Atherton led Britain to a clean sweep of the women’s podium at the first International Cycling Union (UCI) Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup of the season in Loudres.

The 29-year-old had finished second in qualification yesterday, four seconds behind her compatriot Tahnee Seagrave.

Atherton was hoping to get her World Cup title defence off to a winning start in France and produced an excellent ride in today’s final to complete the course in a time of 3min 50.383sec.

The time saw the three-time world champion move to the top of the standings.

Her 20-year-old team-mate Seagrave unable to better the time, crossing the line in 3:54.855.

"It’s been one of those weekends, all or nothing," said Atherton after claiming her 27th World Cup win.

"I knew I was going to have to ride as well as I could and maybe crash.

“It’s gnarly how hard we have to push.”

Image title
The United States' Aaron Gwin won the opening men's race ©Twitter/UCI_MTB

Manon Carpenter completed the podium in a town best known as a major Catholic pilgrimage site after finishing in 4:00.641.

The Briton ended three seconds clear of Australia’s Tracey Hannah.

The United States’ Aaron Gwin triumphed in the men’s event.

He completed the course in a time of 3:09.131.

France’s Loic Bruni had looked on course to beat the American’s time after leading through the first four split times only for a crash in the closing stages to end his hopes.

He eventually finished 14th. 

The silver medal was claimed by Canada’s Steve Smith in 3:11.602, with Britain’s Danny Hart completing the podium in a time of 3:11.817.