One day after Canada Day celebrations, Catharine Pendrel (Luna) gave Canadian cycling fans another reason to celebrate with her victory at the only Canadian stop of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Mont-Sainte-Anne. World Cup leader Julie Bresset (BH-Suntour-Peisey Vallandry) finished third behind Irina Kalentieva (Topeak Ergon), after the French woman crashed while at the front of the race with Pendrel.
Pendrel had a poor start to the five-lap, 22.8-kilometre race, and had to chase her way up to the leaders. But once she caught the front group by the end of the first lap, she and Bresset dropped everyone else on the first climb of lap two. The two were together until Bresset crashed on the rock garden descent on lap three.
"It was definitely the worst start I've had this year," said Pendrel. "So I had to chase up, but once I got there, Julie and I went on the climb and no one could stay with us. I was feeling really good today, but Julie was also riding strong. I heard her crash behind me, and then I was on my own."
Behind the leaders, Kalentieva, Katerina Nash (Luna), local favourite Marie-Helene Premont (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) and Elisabeth Osl (Ghost Factory) were all within 20 seconds of each other as they battled for the remaining podium spots.
After Bresset's crash, she was slow to get going again, and Kalentieva was able to bridge up to her on the fourth lap. The Russian then dropped the World Cup leader to move into second, and Bresset briefly lost control of third to Nash when she had to stop into the pit for a rear wheel change, with Premont close to catching her as well. However, Bresset was able to reel in Nash on the final half lap to hold onto to third, with Nash taking fourth and Premont fifth.
Pendrel remains in second in the overall standings after four rounds, 140 points behind Bresset. Premont jumped from ninth to third in the standings, at 480 points, tied on points with Lene Byberg (Specialized).
"This was one of my main goals for the season," said Pendrel. "I had a poor start, but was able to make my way up to the leaders on the first lap. Julie [Bresset] and I got a gap on the others, and then when she crashed, I had a clear lead to the finish. Mont-Sainte-Anne is one of the hardest races in the series, so to win here is very special."
Could she still win the World Cup overall? "Only if I win all of the remaining races," Pendrel said, laughing.
- Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Lapierre International) won the Under 23 race run simultaneously by riding away from field on the first lap, and catching half of the elite field which had started two minutes ahead of her. She took over the Under 23 World Cup lead with her win.
- Sabine Spitz (Central Haibike) was one of the women who crashed, landing heavily on her thigh and having to be helped from the course. The team says nothing is broken, but she will fly straight back to Germany to recover, skipping the next World Cup in Windham, New York.
-Pendrel led a strong Canadian contingent racing at home. Premont was fifth and Emily Batty (Subaru-Trek) was seventh.
This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.