June 25/12 2:28 am - Mont Ste Anne World Cup: DH final report and photos
Posted by Editoress on 06/25/12
The Canadian stop of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup at Mont-Ste-Anne, Quebec, concluded on Sunday with the ever-popular Downhill. Two riders confirmed their dominance as the only multiple round winners this season, with Rachel Atherton (GT Factory) winning the women's competition, while Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing) took the men's.
After raining heavily the previous day during the afternoon races at the Cross-country World Cup, the clouds moved on and the Gravity event was blessed with blue skies and hot sun. Sections in the woods were still wet and slippery, but most of the track had dried by the time the riders began their runs.
Canada's Micayla Gatto set the first sub-five minute time, which would end up being good enough for fifth. World Cup leader Emmeline Ragot (MS Mondraker) and Myriam Nicole (Commencal/Riding Addiction) both knocked a few seconds off of that time, but Atherton, the fastest qualifier, easily surpassed them, finishing nearly two seconds ahead of Nicole. Ragot had to soft pedal the lower section after damaging her chainring on a rock.
"This was the first time in a long time that I attacked a course like this," revealed Atherton. "I was very determined and very focused. It was the first time in a while that I felt like I was in the zone and pushing."
She said that she rode the course a bit carefully and didn't take any risks since she was afraid of crashing.
"I did get nervous halfway down that I was going to make a mistake and throw away the top section that was really good though, so maybe I held back a little bit. I just tried to be smooth."
"It was a good day," said Gatto, who made her first World Cup podium. "I rode better than I expected. I hit all my lines. I could have pedaled a bit more but I rode safe and I rode fast enough to get me on the podium. So I'm over the moon. Now I know I can do it. With the rain and everything it just all came together perfectly."
Casey Brown was another Canadian having a strong ride, finishing sixth just behind Gatto. The other Canadians in the race were Claire Buchar, who finished 12th, and Miranda Miller, who finished 19th. This was Buchar's first World Cup of the season. She was looking forward to the season after her medal at the World Championships last year but has been working three jobs and recently was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. She crashed in a final training run, and raced with her shoulder taped up.
Ragot still leads the World Cup standings with 740 points to Atherton's 700, since the British rider did not attend the opening round.
Aaron Gwin began his World Cup career at Mont-Ste-Anne, and has a soft spot for the course, calling it one of his favourites. The defending champion on the course, he continues to be unstoppable, with three straight wins in the four rounds this season. In fact, with his five wins last year, he has racked up an incredible eight wins in 11 World Cups over the past two seasons, a record winning percentage.
The top three qualifiers each took over the lead as they hit the finish line. First was world champion Danny Hart (Giant Factory), who knocked countryman Gee Atherton off the Hot Seat. Moments later, Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) - the winner of the four World Cups Gwin hasn't won in the past two seasons - was eight-tenths of a second faster. However, Minnaar didn't even get a chance to enjoy the lead, as Gwin came through the first time check 2.5 seconds faster. The American champion had lost a little bit of time by the second split, but still crossed the line 1.3 seconds ahead of his rival.
"It's always special to win a World Cup but this venue holds a special place in my heart," agreed Gwin. "The pressure was on today, as I knew Greg would step it up and he's had his fair share of success over the years here. The course has some sections which feel almost designed for me, I love them, and I know if I hadn't made those two small errors in the lower half of the course I would have scored a better time, but hey, I'll take it!"
"I guess second's really good but at the end of the day we all come here to win. So that's the unsatisfying part of it," Minaar said. "It was a good day of racing. Aaron just out-rode us again and he's killing it at the moment and it takes a lot to beat him."
Canada's Steve Smith (Devinci Global Racing) won the silver medal on this course at the world championships in 2010, but could only manage seventh this time.
"I feel if I have a clean run I shouldn't finish off the podium. So I'm a bit pissed off."
Smith said he was mad at himself for only going two seconds faster in the final than he did in Friday's qualifier.
"I just knew my time compared to my quali time wasn't going to hold. My run was clean but it wasn't flying. It's a long track and it's milliseconds everywhere and I guess I just went a tad too slow everywhere."
Smith is aiming for the podium next weekend in Windham. The other Canadians in the race today were Matthew Beer (37th), Kyle Sangers (54th), Rob Fraser (66th), Mark Wallace (72nd) and Hans Lambert (78th).
Gwin now has 900 points, 235 more than Minnaar, with Atherton a further 125 points in arrears.
Report by Rob Jones and Sarah Moore
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Mont-Ste-Anne World Cup June 22/12 - June 24/12, Mont-Ste-Anne, Quebec