Posted by Editoress on 06/24/07
Mont-Ste-Anne World Cup
Coverage sponsored by Maxxis, and Vélirium
By Mike Badyk and Rob Jones
Completing the downhill sweep for Iron Horse/Monster Energy, defending World Champion Sam Hill joined his team mate Sabrina Jonnier on top of the podium at Mont-Sainte-Anne. Greg Minnaar (G-Cross Honda) finished 1.69 seconds back to claim second place, with crowd favourite, and three time World Cup winner at Mont-Sainte-Anne, Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate) a mere .03 seconds behind Minnaar for third place.
This was a picture perfect day for racing, with sunny skies, a few white clouds and a nice wind to keep things cool. Eighty one riders qualified for the finals with Peat, Hill and Minnaar as the fastest qualifiers.
The first hot run of the race was laid down by Florent Payet (Ssangyong-Fusion). Starting in 31st position, the young Payet had a very long time sitting on the hot seat staring up the hill. He was there for 29 riders before he was unseated by Mick Hannah (Cannondale The Cut). Payet's run allowed him a top 20 finish at 19th place.
Hannah's run stood for a while, but once the top riders were reached, repeated leader changes were the order of business. Nathan Rennie (Santa Cruz Syndicate) staked a claim to the hot seat, but he knew it likely wouldn't stand up. "I'm alright with the time for now, but I was hoping for a 4:32. We'll see what happens."
Champery World Cup winner Matti Lehikoinen (G-Cross Honda) was the first to unseat Rennie. "Honestly, this is one of the worst runs I've had. At least that's what it felt like. I wasn't in my mind. I crashed once. The whole thing ... it was hard to say. I need to concentrate more."
The third last starter was Greg Minnaar (G-Cross Honda). Minnaar had dislocated his shoulder at World Cup round #2 in Champery, Switzerland two weeks ago, and this injury came back to haunt him. "I crashed in the rock section. My shoulder popped out. I tried to fling it back in but it didn't go in. I had to fling it again and it went in the second time." The fact that he was able to have such a good run, including the crash and the reoccurrence of the shoulder injury really says something about his abilities and his courage.
Then Hill put down his run. He didn't take the hot seat. Instead he stood by, just staring up the course awaiting the arrival of Peat. Peat charged hard, but ultimately could only take third. Peat said "I made a couple of little mistakes out there. Like carrying too much speed in a couple of sections. On a track this long, with the times so close, you can't make mistakes. I think I pushed too hard. You have to be physically strong here but you also have to be mentally strong.
Hill was jubilant and somewhat relieved at his win. "After Champery it was good to come back here for the win. I'm pretty excited about it. I feel good going into the next round in Austria. I hope to get another win."
Jeff Beatty was top Canadian, finishing in 27th. "This has got to be one of my favourite courses. It's so much fun. It has everything. High speed. Tech sections. Crazy corners. Roots and rocks. It's got it all. I just knew my lines from day one. I had to dial them in and get every single line because if you go even a couple of inches off you're going to get a flat tire. This is the earliest I've ever started to pre-ride (Thursday). It was a little different for me but it turned out to be good."
Other Canadians were Hans Lambert in 45th and Luke Kitzanuk in 48th. Kitzanuk was pleased with his run. "This was pretty good. It was awesome. The track held up really well I think. It was dry, dry. Some of the corners were pretty slick. That fine dust that makes things really difficult to handle at times. This is my third or fourth time racing here. I actually wish that it was tougher. There aren't that many roots and rocks. The bikes can handle it. Make it tougher!"
With his win Hill takes the World Cup Points lead over Peat with 557 points to 525. Lehikoinen is in third place with 416 points.
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