June 26/06 12:23 pm - Mont-Ste-Anne World Cup: Men's XC report
Posted by Editoress on 06/26/06
Mont-Ste-Anne World Cup
Reports made possible with the support of Rocky Mountain Bicycles and Vélirium Mountain Bike Festival
By Mike Badyk & Rob Jones
Vélirium Mountain Bike Festival
Photos ... part one
Specialized Takes First and Second with Sauser and Killeen
By the end of lap 2 of the 7 lap men's competition the race was all but decided. Christoph Sauser (SUI) and Liam Killeen (GBR), both riding for Specialized Factory Racing, rode away from a strong field at Mont Ste Anne to record the first win the season for the team.
It was a war of attrition. There were 118 starters in the men's field and only 50 finishers on the same lap as the winner, with lots of broken bikes - chains and flat tires were very, very common. The tech zone halfway through the lap was busy all afternoon. The other contributing factor was the heat. By the end of the race the temperature had soared to 31C, something that the women didn't have to contend with earlier in the day. There were many tired racers by the conclusion.
After Sauser and Killeen took off together, 2 riders were left in a kind of "no man's land" in third and fourth place. Jose Hermida (Multivan Merida) and Julien Absalon (Bianchi Agos) rode together until the fourth lap, when Absalon, the World Cup series leader, dropped Hermida to try and make contact with the leaders. He came within 32 seconds by the end of the lap, but after that gradually fell off the pace to finish nearly three minutes back.
The real battle was for fifth place. Locked in a war for most of the race was Seamus McGrath (CAN - Canadian National/Felt Bicycles), Ludovic Dubau (FRA - Pro Race Team) and Florian Vogel (SUI - Swisspower MTB Team). They marked each other for several laps with McGrath only able to get away near the end of the final lap to take fifth. Vogel finished sixth with Dubau in seventh.
Sauser was very happy with his win. This was the first win of the year for the defending World Cup champion, and his first win for his new Specialized team. He had spent many years at Siemens-Cannondale. That team disbanded at the conclusion of 2005. "For me this has been the first real race. The first one was so early, the second there weren't really climbs, and the third and fourth were so muddy. This course was ideal for me. I've felt in very good shape the last few weeks. There was another boost with the new bikes. You do get a boost when you have the very best bike. We were really motivated at the start."
"I was feeling a little bit of pressure. I wanted the first win for the new team to get everybody excited, especially the engineers. It's all come together towards the middle and the end of the season. I'm very pleased for the whole team today because they worked so hard. It was great to see all of the smiling faces in the finish. It's not just for me, it's for the whole team. We were so fast in the downhills today and then we could ride a steady pace. It was a big advantage. We have 10cm of travel so we don't have to brake as much. We also have a brand new shock that opens and closes pretty quick. My bike is under 9 kilos. It's not only in your head, it's a huge bike advantage."
Killeen followed Sauser for much of the race: "I was happy to stay second wheel for most of the race. Since Fort William I really haven't done any racing and I was pretty tired around that time. Last week's NORBA really helped me. It got my top end back. It was my best result. We did a little bit of team work, each taking a share of the wind, but Christoph had a little more top end on the climbs. That was a tough old race. From here I'm going to go back home and start to get ready for the World Championships. This is a really satisfying feeling here today."
Absalon had won the last three World Cups, but was satisfied with his third place. "Today it was impossible for me to catch them. Antonio and I did a lot of work today, but that's the way it goes. You can go as hard as you can, but you also had to be careful. There were lots of trees and roots. It was quite technical. I'm happy with how it went. Now I can have a little break and focus on the World Championships."
Hermida, a new father just a few days after the Fort William World Cup, explained that he hadn't been spending much time training. Instead he was dealing with personal matters such as "getting up every hour and a half in the middle of the night". Despite this, he rode a smart race today. "The red guys (Specialized) were very strong today. Julien and me tried to catch them, but they showed us that they were in pretty good shape. We just tried to fight for the overall and keep our positions in the series by bringing home a lot of points. It's more difficult when you ride alone because you don't exactly what kind of speed you have. Races are like that. Sometimes you just have to keep focused and go ahead alone like I did today."
Canadian McGrath was motivated to be racing on home turf and was obviously exhausted at the finish, but he was also elated with his fifth place. "It was brutal. I'm just happy. I don't know what to say. My goal coming in was to podium. I said at Frt William 'I will be on the podium at Mont Ste Anne'."
"I just stuck myself in the spot and fought for it. So on the last lap I attacked that Swiss guy (Vogel) on the second steep climb and I got a gap and just rode it in. I'm really happy to be back on the podium and I'm just ecstatic. It got really tactical out there. We really had to meter out our effort, cause those guys were gone. It became a battle for fifth at that point. You had to ride smart. I saved a little for the end there, as hard as that is. Just gave it all. It's been a tough year. It just shows my character."
"I'm going back home for a bit, then Nationals, then the Trans-Rockies with Andrea Hestler and then World's. There's not many races left, but I'm hoping they're good. I think I'll definitely be able to land a good ride for next year, hopefully with Felt again. They stepped up and helped me out. Canada (CCA) has also given me great support to get to the World Cups. I'd like to thank those guys too."
Ricky Federau was in the top 10 for most of the race. However, on the final lap he suffered a mechanical dropping him to 23rd place. "I was feeling really good all race and I was hoping to move up in the final lap, but at the top of the second climb, just before you go into the woods, my chain broke. All I could do was to run and coast into the finish. It was pretty frustrating."
The overall standings have Absalon still on top. He has mathematically won the series with one race remaining. However, the battle for second is wide open. Sauser sits in second, with Hermida only 20 points behind him, and round one winner Bart Brentjens (Giant) could also still move up from fourth with a good ride in the final.