Mont-Saint Anne (CAN) played host to the latest round of the 2016 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, with the world’s fastest mountain bikers converging on the Canadian alpine resort over the weekend to battle it out in search of vital series points. For the XCO competitors, Mont-Saint Anne (MSA) was Round #5 of the UCI World Cup, and the final hit-out before heading to the Rio Olympics. For the Elite downhillers, MSA was Round #6 of the UCI World Cup, with just one round left in the race series before the World Champs in Val Di Sole.
In the women’s DHI race, Rachel Atherton’s untouchable speed once again saw her take out the top step of the podium. For those playing at home, that was Atherton’s 12th consecutive World Cup victory – how is that for domination! Despite there being one race left on the World Cup calendar, Atherton has already stitched up the overall title. On the long and highly technical MSA track, Atherton put 11 seconds into Tracey Hannah in second place, followed by Tahnee Seagrave in third place.
Meanwhile in the men’s DHI race, it came down to a nail-biting finish as a familiar field of top-10 talent began jostling for position. After taking his first World Cup victory at the last round in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, Danny Hart once again muscled out the series leader Aaron Gwin, delivering the fastest time on the day. Having enjoyed a consistent 2016 race season, Hart is now within 178 points of Gwin in the overall standings, which should lead for an exciting finale at Valnord in Andorra in three weeks time.
Finishing in third position behind Gwin and Hart, Frenchman Loic Bruni made a convincing return to racing after crashing out earlier in the year during training in the lead up to Fort William. Just like Hart, Bruni took his first World Cup victory in 2016, having taken the gold medal at Cairns in Australia back in April. After being sidelined for the past three rounds of the World Cup, Bruni has since made a full recovery from his broken collarbone and will be looking for redemption at both the next World Cup round and the World Championships.
One of the most impressive feats to come out of the MSA World Cup round was the data from the speed trap. As you’ll see by the below Instagram post from Rachel Atherton, she stuck it to the boys with a top speed that came less than 1km/h within that of Aaron Gwin – a point she was keen to make her race commentators aware of. How is that for fast? (Oh and if you can’t see the link for some reason, then read it directly here).
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73.6 KM/h 😄😄😄😄 THAT is what I'm talking about!! Beating most of the guys thru the speed trap was pretty unreal & made for some interesting talk at last nights party!! Sorry boys – that's just how badass us girls can be 😂😂😂 on a more serious note @claudiocaluori @robwarner970 how about when rob asks "why is Rach so fast" instead of always just saying "cos she rides with her brother" why not say the truth?? Because I work DAMN hard!! I train damn hard with my coach , my mechanics and I work on my bike setup and suspension like there's no tomorrow, I focus on every aspect of racing, I analyse & doubt myself, my experience with injuries has taught me my limits & my abilities, I live for racing, it makes my heart beat!! YES I do ride with my brothers a lot, but I also ride ALOT on my own , and it kind of takes the piss when all you say is "because she rides with her brother" I am, along with all the other women, athletes in our own right, bike riders because WE have the SKILLS, not because we blindly follow the boys with our eyes closed. So Sort it out please boys!!! Otherwise it's good commentary & a great show @redbulltv 😘😝😜
Meanwhile for the XCO riders, the MSA course proved to be just as technically demanding. Factor in that the cross-country competitors were battling it out on skinny carbon hardtails and lightweight full suspension bikes with their seatposts at full height, and you can only imagine how hard it must be to take on the steep rock-infested descents. As you’ll see from the videos below, there was plenty of carnage in both the women’s and men’s races.
There was plenty of movement in the women’s race, with battles ensuing all over the challenging MSA racecourse. The Canadian crowd was gifted a local victory thanks to LUNA rider Catharine Pendrel, who pulled away from the field to take the win. Pendrel added valuable series points with her win, and is now within 56 points of series leader Annika Langvad. Langvad could only manage 4th, coming behind Emily Batty in 3rd, and Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa in 2nd.
With just two weeks to go before the Olympic Cross Country race in Rio, tensions were running high during the XCO event at the MSA World Cup round. Current series leader Nino Schurter decided to withhold from racing at MSA, instead holding off in preparation for racing the Olympics. This left the door open for Julien Absalon, who put in a strong performance to claim victory on the technical course. Absalon now moves into the series leader position, going 160 points of Schurter. This should make for a thrilling conclusion to the World Cup series when it concludes in Andorra next month.
For now, the mountain bike world will be turning its attention to the Olympic Cross Country race, which will be held on the weekend of the 20th/21st of August. Riders will then have two weeks break before they gather again in Andorra for the final round of the UCI World Cup series. With the exception of the women’s DHI category, every other title is currently up for grabs, making for a hell of an exciting finale to the 2016 season.
Want to check out some of the action from the weekend’s racing at Mont-Saint Anne? Then grab yourself a cold beverage and check out Red Bull TV’s video edits from the downhill and cross-country events below.
Can’t see the videos? Then click here to watch all the action!