June 24/12 11:45 am - Mont Ste Anne World Cup: Cross Country report, photos and results
Posted by Editoress on 06/24/12
Mont-Ste-Anne, Quebec is one of the classics of the Mountain Bike World Cup - Jose Hermida (Multivan Merida), the 2010 world champion here - calls it a 'cathedral' of the sport. So, it was no surprise that the fifth round of the 2012 cross-country series once again provided some fantastic racing. World champion Catharine Pendrel (Luna) took her second consecutive victory in Mont-Ste-Anne in the women's category and took the overall lead in the series, while Nino Schurter (Scott-Swisspower) took his third victory of the season in the men's event, to extend his series lead.
Heavy rain the night before soaked the track and made the wooded sections muddy and even more technical at this classic venue, and once the sun came out the heat and humidity made for stifling conditions, but the riders responded by racing harder than ever.
Georgia Gould (Luna), the U.S. national champion, jumped out to an early lead in the women's race, chasing her first ever World Cup victory. However, Pendrel, after a slow start, steadily moved up through the ranks, getting stronger as the race progressed. As her team mate faded to the sixth fastest split on the final lap, the Canadian champion was speeding up to record the fastest split of the day, and took the lead on the last lap for her second victory of the season.
Early leader Georgia Gould
"I had a slow start," admitted Pendrel, "and it took me a while to work my way up to the leaders. Georgia [Gould] was riding really strongly for the first part of the race, but I could see I was bringing her back in the last two laps. I can tell my form is building every week, so this is just another step towards the Olympics."
"I was hoping that this would finally be the one," said Gould, "but I just didn't have it for the last lap, I was cramping over some of the short, steep bridges. I didn't make any mistakes, I just wasn't fast enough. It was hard; I may have looked okay on the outside, but I was crying inside."
Besides the race at the front, there was as much or more interest in the race for third, where local favourite Marie-Helene Premont (Rocky Mountain), a two-time winner here was riding what is likely to be the final race at Mont-Ste-Anne in her illustrious career. Having missed selection to the Canadian Olympic squad earlier in the week, Premont admitted afterwards to being on an emotional rollercoaster.
Marie-Helene Premont finishing what is likely to be the final race at Mont-Ste-Anne
"Psychologically, it was very difficult for me," Premont agreed. "But I knew my form was good, and this is the best course for me, so I rode the best race that I could. When Catharine came from behind me I tried to stay with her, but she was just too fast. I'm happy with my ride."
In the absence of World Cup leader Julie Bresset (BH-SR Suntour-Peissey Vallandry), Pendrel has jumped out to a 190 point lead in the standings over Bresset, with Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida), fifth at Mont-Ste-Anne moving into third. Given the expected absence of Bresset next week at Windham, another good performance by Pendrel should pretty much lock up the World Cup title for the Canadian.
The men's race saw Schurter quickly assert his dominance. He was unchallenged for the first half of the race, until Jose Hermida (Multivan Merida), the winner of the world championships on this circuit in 2010, moved into second and closed to within 16 seconds by the fourth lap of six, just as the rain started up, turning much of the course into a slippery morass. Both riders crashed in the turns through the woods and were unable to gain a gap on the other.
When Schurter flatted (rear) with a lap and a half to go, it looked like his bad luck of the 2010 world championships was about to happen again, when he lost to Hermida after flatting. However, the World Cup leader battled to rejoin his Spanish rival at the front, and the two rode together through the rain and mud on the final lap. Coming into the final 100 metres the pair were still together, but Schurter, acknowledged as one of the best sprint finishers in mountain biking, held off his rival after leading out of the final corner. World champion Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized) took third.
"This is such a rough, rooty course that it is hard to avoid problems," commented Schurter. "I was very concerned when I flatted, but I had a quick change in the tech zone and was able to rejoin Jose. It was so slippery that neither of us could attack on the last lap, and I just waited until that final corner on the course for the sprint."
"It was not possible to attack," agreed Hermida. "When Nino crashed, I thought maybe I could get a gap, but then I crashed in the next corner. All we could do was ride at the same speed to avoid crashing."
Max Plaxton greets the fans as he finishes a career high 5th links to more photos at bottom of page
Canada's Max Plaxton (Specialized) was the top North American, capturing his first World Cup podium with fifth place. Plaxton moved up quickly into the top-10 after the start, but was in seventh as the last lap began, in a group with Florian Vogel (Scott-Swisspower) and Marco Fontana (Cannondale). As the two Europeans faded, Plaxton surged, moving into fifth with half a lap to go, punching the air as he crossed the line.
"This is probably the best result of my career," commented Plaxton. "I've won the national title two times, but this is a race against all the top pros, so it is very special to me. I think I can now look forward to the possibility of a top-three next week at the next round of the World Cup."
Schurter extended his lead in the standings, and is now 165 points ahead of Kulhavy, with Burry Stander (Specialized) moving into third. Plaxton moved from 23rd to 18th, and is now the top North American in the standings.
- In other cross-country racing on Saturday, Michiel van der Heijen (Rabobank Giant) took the first win of the weekend in the Under-23 men category. Top Canadian was Evan Guthrie (Team Canada) in 13th. The absent Alexander Gehbauer continues to lead the rankings. Samara Sheppard (Wheeler-IXS) took the Under-23 women's title, with Yana Belomoyna (Bi&Esse-Infotre Protek) finishing second to retain the leader's jersey. Top Canadian was Canadian champion Andreanne Pichette (Opus/OGC) in fifth. Canadian national champion Frederique Trudel (Team Canada) won the junior women's race.
- In the Junior men's race, held Sunday morning, the incredible new Zealnder Anton Cooper (Trek World Racing) once again scorched the field, finishing more than six minutes ahead of second place Marc-Antoine Nadon, the Canadian national champion racing for Scott-3Rox. Utah's Keegan Swenson (Cannondale) continued his string of podium results, finishing third.