Posted by Editoress on 08/7/16
Two Canadians finished on the podium at the Mont Ste Anne World Cup Downhill on Saturday, with Finnley Iles (Specialized Gravity) finishing second in the Junior men, and Miranda Miller (Specialized SRAM) fifth in the women.
MSA continues to be one of the longest and most physically demanding runs on the World Cup circuit. Usually, mud and slippery roots are a factor, however, this year dry conditions leading up to and during race day made the course dusty and full of loose gravel. There were many flats suffered, and more than a few crashes.
Iles, with three wins this season, was the rider to beat, and qualified fastest. However, he was beat by the slimmest of margins when the number two ranked rider, Gaetan Vige (Commencal/Vallnord) won by 0.031 seconds - 31/thousandths. Elliott Heap (Chain Reaction) was third and Team Canada's Magnus Manson was fourth. Iles continues to lead the standings with 260 points, followed by Vige at 225, with Manson moving into tenth.
"Today was pretty good," said Iles, "I rode almost like I wanted to, but I think I was too conservative in the middle. It was really close at the end, and you always feel regret when you are that close. I'm not surprised, because these other guys are fast. Overall, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out."
The women's race unfolded as predicted, with Rachel Atherton (Trek Factory) scoring a remarkable 12th consecutive World Cup win, sewing up the World Cup title in the process with one race remaining. Atherton finished over 11 seconds ahead of Tracey Hannah (Polygon UR), with Tahnee Seagrave (Transition Factory) taking third. Miller, the Canadian champion, had her second straight World Cup podium result, and was sitting in third for the first half of her run until a mistake cost her time. Atherton now has an insurmountable 1470 points, followed by Manon Carpenter (Madison Saracen) at 990 and Hannah at 930. Miller moves up from 16th to 11th in the standings.
"When my team manager told me if I won the qualifying and the finals I'd wrap up the overall ... yes there was pressure," admitted Atherton. "This track is so savage you can't really think of anything apart from just getting down. I really wanted to show it who is boss and I struggled a bit on the first day, so really happy to put a good run together."
"The qualifying time gave me a bit of comfort but Tahnee [Seagrave] crashed [in qualifying] so that upset me a little bit, you never know what would've happened. But I knew that if I rode it like I did in qualifying I could win it. I'm pretty stoked to have had a pretty perfect run. I had sweat in my eye at one point coming down so that just shows how hot it is."
For Miller, it is her second World Cup podium of the season. "I've only done two World Cups this season, but two races, two podiums is a good average. Things are going well this season ... I don't really know why, but I think maybe I have a better race mind this year. This is the first time I've ridden Mont Ste Anne in the dust, but any condition it's my favourite track. I had pretty good splits at the top but I goofed a bit in one of the lower rock gardens and blew my foot off [the pedal] ... it's frustrating but that's racing."
The men's race was a battle to the finish, with Danny Hart (MS Mondraker) following up his first World Cup win at the previous round with his second, once again beating World Cup leader Aaron Gwin (The YT Mob). Gwin won qualifying by a sizable margin, ahead of Hart, but Hart was the only rider to go under four minutes, finishing 0.669 seconds ahead on Gwin. World champion Loic Bruni (Specialized Gravity) showed that his return from injury is complete by finishing third. Mark Wallace (Devinci Global Racing) was the top Canadian, in 25th place. Gwin continues to lead the standings with 1186 points, but Hart is getting closer, now only 178 points back. Troy Brosnan (Specialized Racing) continues to sit in third at 920 points. Wallace moves up one spot, to 24th.
"It's, you know, just unbelievable," said Hart. "I had a good run but I unclipped at the start. So I didn't get a good crank out of the start house. And then I just held it wide open. I know you can't leave anything up there. Aaron [Gwin] was down and then he was coming back. I changed one line at the top and one line at the bottom. I knew I had a good run yesterday I just needed to up the pace a little. I think Aaron's time yesterday was still faster but today's the one that counts."