The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup moved to Mont-Sainte-Anne in Canada for round 5 of the cross country and round 4 of the downhill.
There were no surprises in the men’s downhill, with Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing) convincingly beating Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) and Danny Hart (Giant Factory Off-Road Team).
Although he was considered the favorite for the event by all his rivals and he won here last year, Gwin wasn’t taking anything for granted. “We train to win so it’s always the hope, but you never know until you cross the finish line. You just have to give it a shot.”
Gwin continues as World Cup leader with 900 points. “It’s never easy to protect the lead. These longer tracks are tough,” he said. “I’m looking forward to a shorter track next week. It’s always fun racing in Windham. I have some family and a bunch of friends there.”
The women’s downhill saw a resurgent Rachel Atherton (GT Factory Racing) taking the win ahead of French pair Myriam Nicole (Commencal/Riding Addiction) and Emmeline Ragot (MS Mondraker Team).
“I’m happy,” said Atherton after her win. “I’m relieved because everyone is so fast and strong and they are a little bit crazy, like they don’t mind if they crash. I’m scared to crash, and I think I was lucky.”
World champion Emmeline Ragot (MS Mondraker) was going well enough that she might have won the race, but a mechanical put an end to her chances.
“I broke my chainguard, so I couldn’t pedal any more after that in the bottom part,” said Ragot. “It’s the kind of thing that happens and you can’t do anything about it. I had thought about it during training: ‘If you break something, just keep going, don’t brake and keep it smooth.'” She did just that and still managed to finish third overall on the day.
Ragot leads the World Cup standings with 740 points to runner-up Atherton’s 700 points. Nicole is in third with 641 points.
In the men’s cross country on Saturday, Nino Schurter (Scott Swisspower) outsprinted Jose Antonio Hermida (Multivan Merida) for the win.
No one was expecting the World Cup race to end in a sprint after Schurter went to the front from the start and stayed there solo for most of the race. But a flat tire on the second last lap let a surging Hermida catch Schurter.
“No, I didn’t expect to have to sprint for it on a course like Mont-Sainte-Anne,” said Schurter. “It was a special finish and when it started to rain – the course was really tricky.”
Schurter retained his lead in the World Cup standings, now with 950 points. Kulhavy moved up one spot to second place (785 points) as did Burry Stander into third (688 points). The absent Absalon dropped from second to fourth with 650 points while Hermida advanced from eighth to fifth with 605 points.
The women’s cross country saw Catharine Pendrel (Luna) take her second consecutive Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup. She finished ahead of teammate Georgia Gould and local crowd favorite Marie-Helene Premont (Rocky Mountain).
Gould led for most of the race, but on the fourth of five laps, she started to cramp. Behind her, Pendrel steadily moved up throughout the race and overtook Gould on the final lap.
“I didn’t have the pace early on, and I thought that lost me the race,” said Pendrel. “But luckily for me, the pace made Georgia suffer, too, and I was able to reel her back in.”
Pendrel took over the World Cup lead with 940 points. Julie Bresset – who didn’t race – is second at 750. Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa jumped up one spot to third with 678 points. Maja Wloszczowska with 670 points fell to fourth from third while Katerina Nash stepped up one place to fifth with 659.
For full results, reports and photos of the Mountain Bike World Cup Mont-Sainte-Anne, visit Cyclingnews.com.