Posted by Editoress on 06/23/06
|Mont-Ste-Anne World Cup|
Tomorrow professional riders from all three disciplines of mountain biking - Cross-country, Downhill and 4-Cross - take part in the Mountain Bike World Cup, in Mont Ste Anne, Quebec. This is the fourth round for the Downhill and 4-cross, and fifth for the Cross-country. Mont Ste Anne is the only venue to have been part of the World Cup every year since the start of the series; proof of the high regard with which the venue and the organizers - Chantal Lachance and Patrice Drouin of Gestev - are held.
On Saturday the gravity riders are front and centre, starting with the Downhill during the day and the 4-Cross in the evening. The downhill course is approximately 40% new, according to Lachance, with a long straight open drop section in the middle replacing some wooded portions. Riders are saying that the course is very fast, and that this in itself is making the run technical, since it requires complete concentration to avoid making mistakes at high speed. It has been raining consistently for the past few weeks, but the ground drains quickly at Mont Ste Anne, and the weather is currently sunny (and expected to remain so). The top men are expected to complete the 3.2 kilometre run in under five minutes.
After qualifying in the morning, the top 80 men and top 30 women will race in the final in the afternoon. Among the men, the only name missing is world champion Fabien Barel (Kona Les Gets), who is injured. Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate) leads the standings for the men, but the leader has changed after each of the first three events, so his victory is by no means assured. On the women's side, the top-15 riders are all in attendance, with Tracy Moseley (Kona Les Gets) hoping to extend her winning streak to four straight.
Top Canadian contender Charles Alexandre Dube remarked that "The (downhill) course is awesome. There are many more high speed sections and some large jumps. It was very wet this morning (rained last night) but it is drying out already. It should be very good for tomorrow."
The 4-Cross is missing world champion Brian Lopes and Michael Deldycke for the men out of the top-10, with all the top women represented. World Cup leaders Jill Kintner (the world champion) and Michael Prokop have to be considered favourites - Kintner's won all three women's event and Prokop two out of three for the men.
Dube said of the 4-Cross run: "I like the course, it's not as fast as last year but is a very fair course. There is still an advantage to having the inside lane in the first curve, but it not as crucial as last year.
The Sunday cross-country also features a number of new sections in the middle of the five kilometre circuit. After a steady gravel road climb after the start, the riders traverse back across towards the finish and drop back down quickly before the main steep climb straight up to the highest point of the course. They then drop back down again, with almost a kilometre of single track through the woods and make two more ascents before heading back to the start-finish area. At this point it is expected that the men will do six laps (plus a start loop) and the women four (plus start loop). Registration for the cross-country has not yet closed, so start lists have not been issued, but it is expected all top contenders will be here, led by Gunn-Rita Dahle (Multivan Merida) and Julien Absalon (Bianchi Agos). Both have strong leads in their respective series, each having won three of four events.
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