Men: Jared Graves rides to win on well-liked course
Jared Graves took his fourth World Cup victory of the year and clinched the men's title with two rounds still remaining. His win was doubly impressive after a flat tyre in the quarter final round had him sprinting down over half the course to still finish second – which was upgraded to first after heat winner Mickal Prokop was disqualified for cutting a corner. Except for that mishap, Graves' rides were perfect all evening.
The new course won high praise from almost all the riders. "It is ready for the World's next year, I wouldn't change a thing," said winner Graves. There are, of course, the usual rollers, berms and massive jumps, but there is also a rock garden, and there are other large rocks out on the track.
World champion Rafael Alvarez de Lara Lucas (Specialized) took second, with Tomas Slavik third and Roger Rinderknecht (GT Bicycles) fourth after crashing in the final. Dan Atherton (Animal-Commencal) took the small final for the fifth podium spot.
Rinderknecht continues to hold second place in the overall standings, and was likely to give Graves a run for his money until the crash. "I was going well right until the finals, but unfortunately I crashed," he said. "I was still able to get fourth, so I've still got a strong standing. I think that this was one of the best courses this year. Big banked turns. Rocks. It had everything."
Women: Beerten bests full women's field
A brand new four-cross track at Mont Sainte Anne yielded a victory and the World Cup lead for Anneke Beerten (Suspension Center) on Saturday evening during the sixth round of the World Cup series.
In an event that is often hampered by a lack of participants, it was great to see 12 women racers and three full rounds of racing. The main contenders were Beerten, former world champion and World Cup leader Jill Kintner, and current world champion Melissa Buhl (KHS). A number of crashes had an effect on the outcome.
Buhl was one of the victims of a crash in the semi-finals. She came back to win the small final, securing a fifth place overall. This set up a final of Beerten, Kintner, Fionn Griffiths (Norco World Team) and Joanna Petterson. Early in the final, Kintner crashed about halfway down and got up quickly only to crash again lower on the course. Griffiths followed Beerten in for second place, with Petterson in third as Kintner limped in for fourth, losing her World Cup lead.
Beerten assumed the World Cup lead with her win. "This course is really technical and quite difficult. It has a lot of mountain bike features in it, especially with the little bit of rain we had today which made it slippery," she said. "It was a really fun course to ride. I like the more downhill style courses, so this was maybe a little better for me. I love riding this track."
"Gates have been so important for me to improve on and I was so focused on the final," added Beerten. "I was surprised and happy with this one. I'm back in the lead, but the points are so close its all going to come down to the final."
Kintner was clearly disappointed. "We came out of the gate pretty even," she said. "We banged bars on the first straight and she got a little ahead. So I decided to hang back a little bit and wait until I could get by. Then my front wheel just washed out in one of the corners and that was it. I couldn't get my foot clipped back in and I crashed again. I can't catch a break here. I either win or I crash."