Preview: Mont Sainte-Anne Mountain Bike World Cup
By Jeff Jones
Friday, July 24, 2009 1.13pm
Triple header in Canada
The four cross qualifying and finals will be held on Friday and Saturday evening AFP/Getty Images
The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup resumes after a month-long hiatus with round five of the cross country and round six of the downhill and four cross to be held in Mont Sainte-Anne, Canada this weekend.
The popular venue has the distinction of hosting either the world cup or the world championships every year since 1991. Next year it will host the mountain bike world championships for the second time.
The first competition of the weekend is the downhill, which will hold its qualifying rounds on Friday afternoon (24 July) then the finals on Saturday afternoon. At the moment, the course is reported to be wet and muddy in places. It's also longer and more technical than in previous years.
The men's downhill will see Steve Peat (Santa Cruz) try to extend his record number of world cup wins to 18. But he'll have to beat his teammate and current world cup leader Greg Minnaar as well as Fabien Barel (Subaru), who won round five in Maribor. Sam Hill (Monster-Specialized) and Gee Atherton (Animal Commencal) should also be high up among the place getters.
The women's race has a more clear cut favourite in Sabrina Jonnier (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain), who will likely face her stiffest challenge from recently crowned British champ Tracy Moseley (Trek World Team) and Emmeline Ragot (Suspension Centre).
The four cross action kicks off on Friday evening with the qualifying round, the finals of which will be held on Saturday evening.
World cup leader Jared Graves (Yeti) will be hoping to extend his 224-point advantage over his nearest rivals, including Joost Wichman (Ned) and Roger Rinderknecht (GT). Frenchman Romain Saladini (Sunn), Spaniard Rafael Alvarez (Specialized Factory Racing) and Brit Dan Atherton (Animal Commencal) should also be up among the contenders for the win.
In the women's four cross, American Jill Kintner is leading the world cup but only by five points. She'll be challenged by Dutchwoman Anneke Beerten (Suspension centre), who is hungry to reclaim the world cup title she won last year.
The cross country races will all be held on Sunday, with junior categories also added to the usual men's and women's.
The men's race will be a matter of 'who can beat Julien Absalon?'. The Frenchman riding for Orbea has dominated the cross country scene this year, and is a safe bet to add another win to his collection. But Swiss Ralf Naef (Multivan Merida Biking Team) and his teammate Jose Hermida could cause an upset, as could world champion Christoph Sauser (Specialized) who has struggled to hit top form this year.
The women's race could be a battle of the Canadians, with local favourite Marie Helene-Prémont (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain Bicycles) going up against Canadian national champion Catharine Pendrel (Luna). If neither manage to win, it will likely be because of world cup leader and world champion Margarita Fullana (Massi). The Spaniard has the results on the board this year and will be difficult to beat.