August 1/99 6:13 am - Mont Ste Anne Downhill Story
Posted by Editor on 08/1/99
Chausson and Peat Win at Mont Ste Anne World Cup DH #6
Fast. That is how to describe today's downhill in Mont Ste Anne, Quebec; number six in the Diesel-UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. Anne-Caroline Chausson (Volvo-Cannondale) padded her World Cup lead with her fifth win in six races, while Steve Peat (Team GT) took his second win of the season. Peat's victory moved him closer to the lead in the men's overall standings, just behind perennial leader Nicolas Vouilloz (Team Sunn).
After a storm moved through the area last night, there were concerns that the course would be slow and slippery. While it was a little slower in morning qualifying runs, the sun dried out everything except a few woody sections, leaving the run blazing fast. "Compared to Squaw, this course is way faster and tougher." said Peat. "I've always wanted to win on this course, because it's so tough." Second place finisher Vouilloz echoed Peat's comments, and actually went further: "the course is too fast, you have to take many chances."
17 year old Greg Minnaar (Kona) of South Africa set the early fast time for the men - 4:57.51. In his first year on the circuit, and with an 8th place result in Big Bear a few weeks ago, Minnaar is definitely going to be a rider to watch in the future. However, today his time stood up for barely half the field, before Corrado Herin (Sintesi) took over the Å’hot seat', knocking three and a half seconds off Minnaar's time. Herin's time in the lead was brief, as the faster riders started to knock down the lead repeatedly.
Australia's Sean McCarroll (Giant) had the next big drop in time, taking the lead down to 4:50.98. McCarroll's time would last through 20 riders, until Bas De Bever (Be One), the eighth remaining rider, knocked a bare 14 one-hundredths of it. He barely got a chance to get used to the lead before yesterday's Dual winner, Eric Carter (Team GT) took another 2 seconds off the leading time. In turn, Carter lasted two riders before Mickael Pascal (Team Sunn) displaced him by a 5 second margin. Then it was Peat's turn. The intermediate split showed the Peat was on a stellar run - nearly five and a half seconds ahead of Pascal. He would lose a little bit on Pascal over the second half of the course, but still finished with a time of 4:38.97, for an average speed of 34.8 kph.
Peat couldn't celebrate just yet, though. Not until Nicolas Vouilloz, the World Cup leader, and winningest rider on the circuit had completed his run, could the British champion throw his hands in the air and do a victory jig. Vouilloz was gracious in defeat, saying that he had no problems on his run, and "Steve was just the fastest. I made a little mistake, at the bottom, but I know already that I was not having a winning run."
Peat attributed his win to "keeping my hands off the brakes. I knew that you would have to hang it out to win here, and that's what I tried to do." The win furthers his stated ambition of taking the World Cup overall title this season. "This is my best opportunity. I have always been consistent, and with all the races counting now, it rewards my consistency."
Despite the loss, Vouilloz still leads the series, albiet by a slim 50 point margin. This should make next week's race in Bromont, Quebec particularly exciting.
Former world champion Leigh Donovan (Intense Cycles) was the sixth rider down the course for the women, after having suffered a flat in the morning qualifying. She used that experience to stoke herself up and posted a 5:26.52 - 4 seconds faster than Chausson's winning time of the morning. This time stood up through rider after rider, with no one able to come within 7 seconds. However, Missy Giove (Foes/Azonic), the rider who "either crashes out or finishes first or second" at Mont Ste Anne overcame a lingering shoulder injury from Mammoth to knock 6 seconds off Donovan's time. It was now up to Chausson.
Only 0.41seconds ahead of Giove at the intermediate time check, the World Cup leader poured it on in the second half, to win by over 3 seconds, posting a time of 5:17.22. Chausson admitted to some nervousness, after she heard how fast Giove was. "I knew that I would have to go very fast, take more chances. I didn't know if I had enough (to do it)." The French champion also pointed out that she has only done well on this course "when it is wet. This is my first ever win here when it is dry." The win pads Chausson's lead over Giove to 330 points, making it very difficult for anybody to dislodge her as the series heads into the final two events.
- Volvo-Cannondale revealed that they are tweaking a number of things on the bikes, as the series enters the last few races. A new shock that the team is working on with Fox offers position sensitive damping, so that as the rear shock moves through its range of motion, the damping characteristics adjust. Also, Chausson has moved from Hayes discs to Cannondale's CODA model. "The CODA is a more powerful brake, and Anne-Caroline is not as strong as the men, so she can't pull the Hayes as hard." explained team manager Charlie Livermore. He said that the men are sticking with Hayes because the rear CODA brake sometimes flex under the men's greater weight.
- Eric Carter exclaimed "this is my best weekend ever!", after finishing 1st in the Dual and 4th in the Downhill. He also commented on Peat's and Vouilloz's dominance: "those guys are riding with so much confidence, they just don't brake as much, and that's what it takes to win nowdays." Both Peat and Carter said that their team has been tuning the GT I-Drive system all spring and summer, so that they can dial it in for every condition.
- There were 3 protests: Lisa Sher (Foes/Azonic) and Bas de Bever (Be One) in the qualifier, and Vouilloz in the Final. All three cases involved potential gate cutting, and in all three cases, after talking with the racers and marshals, the riders were cleared. However, officials commented that with races getting faster and faster it is getting more and more like downhill ski racing. "We will need video to make calls before long."