Posted by Editoress on 06/24/06
|Jonnier and Kovarik Win: Moseley and Peat Retain World Cup Points Lead|
by Mike Badyk & Rob Jones<>/i>
Fast conditions were the order of the day as it finally didn't rain at Mont Ste Anne. The event organizer Patrice Drouin half-jokingly commented: "We like dust". Unlike the horrid conditions of the Canada Cup here 2 weeks ago (4 straight days of rain) the last rain the mountain received was on Friday morning. Brilliant skies and a nice breeze helped to dry the course considerably. However, the wet of the last few weeks made the course very soft in the wooded sections. As the day went on these portions of the course became more and more chewed up, which played a significant role as the afternoon went on.
The course here has been revised considerably since last year's World Cup. There are some new high speed sections out on the ski hills, with a set of S-bends with large berms under the gondola being a fan favourite. Riders had to really work their bikes down the hill and most showed signs of exhaustion by the finish. Women and men alike complained of sore arms from the pounding. Even during training the course claimed many riders due to crashes. Danika Schroeter (bruised leg) and Charles-Alexandre Dube (broken collar bone), both top Canadian racers, didn't start due to their injuries. Kathi Pruitt (USA) was another non-starter due to a broken shoulder suffered this morning.
In the women's DH, all eyes were on the top seed Tracy Moseley (GBR - Kona Les Gets Factory Team) who had won the first 3 World Cups this year. The woman who claimed the hot seat for most of the women's race was Emmeline Ragot (FRA - Qbikes) who was the second slowest seed, thanks to a mechanical during the Semi Finals. Ragot was left to wait until the 4th last run before she was dethroned.
Canadian hopefuls had a difficult time. Claire Buchar (16th) had her run somewhat hampered by crash during training. "I had a really awful crash yesterday. I've got stitches in my leg and it hurt a lot to pedal. I missed a lot of practice so I'm not feeling super confident. This isn't really my type of course. You have to be so, so strong. I did my best."
Micayla Gatto (Rocky Mountain Business Objects) had mechanical problems. "When you have one flat you can generally make it down the hill, but when you double flat that's it. There isn't anything you can do about it. It's racing. I'll be ready for the Nationals."
National Champion Adrienne Miller who won the Nationals on this hill last year, was the top Canadian woman in 10th place. Still she was disappointed by her performance. "I had a good run except for one corner in the bottom. I went off course a little bit and slowed down. I wanted to do better than my seeding. A course this hard is good preparation for the Nationals (3 weeks away)."
Finally bumping Ragot was Rachel Atherton (GBR - Team Animal/Giant). She was in turn bumped by the next rider down the mountain, Marielle Saner (Team BikePark.Ch Tui). Then the run of the day was produced by Sabrina Jonnier, defending World Cup Champion). Jonnier was over 8 seconds up on Saner at the finish. Now it was only Tracy Moseley who could claim the win. Moseley couldn't do it today, 2.15 seconds back of Jonnier at the finish.
This was Jonnier's first win of the season or it could also be viewed as Moseley's first loss. Jonnier was very happy. "I felt I was losing time in the upper part of the course this morning so I tried very hard in my run to pedal hard everywhere I could. In the technical I tried to stay off the brakes. It was a good run. I feel awesome. I love this race. MSA is one of my favourites. I'm really glad I won here."
Moseley was philosophical about her loss. "I know Sabrina has been getting pretty pissed about losing so I expected her to put in a strong run. Her final run was considerably faster than my semi-final win. I had a couple of mistakes in the middle part of the course that cost me time. I went into S-berms to high with too much speed and had to brake and lost some time there. I've still got the leaders jersey, but there are two races to go. It's going to be a good competition."
80 men qualified for the Final. The first Canadian to claim the hot seat was Dominick Menard. This was his first time in this hallowed place. "It felt really weird at first, but it started to feel really good after a few seconds. I knew I wasn't going to be there indefinitely but it felt good. I made a couple of mistake that cost me 4 or 5 seconds." Menard finished in 44th position and Luke Kitzanuk finished in 37th. "It went fantastic today. I had an awesome run. The weather was perfect. The track dried up real nice. It's a heck of a race course. I've raced here the past couple of years and haven't had any luck. This time around I wanted to change that."
Andrew Mitchell was the top Canadian in 26th place. "It was a lot faster this afternoon than this morning. It was a lot drier. It did get rougher. Some of the sections were really beat up. I had to hang onto the bike a lot. The course is fast this year, a lot more wide open. It definitely brings the skills out in the riders. It's just so much more competitive. There's more to worry about."
A crowd favourite eventually claimed the hot seat. Steve Peat (GBR) who had won here in 2002, 2003 and 2004 laid down a fast run of 4:46.86. Peat had been nursing a broken knuckle thanks to an altercation after a race in Portugal. "The hand is fine now. I've got a good grip again. It was a tough run today. I made a few mistakes. I've won here before but there are still some fast guys to come down the course."
Peat was able to sit nervously in the hot seat for only a few riders until Sam Hill (AUS) displaced him. Hill never made it to the hot seat, with next arrival Chris Kovarik (AUS - MS-Intense Factory Racing Team) smoking the course in 4:44.20. Kovarik was exhausted after his run. He looked anxiously up the hill waiting for the final 4 to come down.
Gee Atherton (GBR - Team Animal/Giant) couldn't do it (9th place). Neither could Marc Beaumont (GBR, Team Mbuk SantaCruz - 4th place. Nathan Rennie (AUS) who has been training on the mountain for several weeks could only manage 8th. The top seed Greg Minnaar (RSA - Team G-Cross Honda) had the only chance to beat Kovarik. He came up .32 seconds short.
Kovarik was elated. "The course was good for me. It really suited my style. It was really nice to get the win here. My bike was great and everything went perfectly." Kovarik's win moved him up to 7th in the World Cup standings.
Minnaar - "I was really pleased with my semi run, but in the final at the top of my run I was carrying too much speed and got off the course a bit. I had to swing the rear end out to get back on to the course and that scrubbed a lot of speed. I'm gradually reeling in Peat - I'm only 40 points back now. There are a couple of races left and I'd like to get another win."
Notes - World Champion Fabien Barel was not here this weekend after a crash during a photo shoot in France where he injured his arm. He hopes to be back in time for the World's.