As in skiing, the best mountain bikers in the world fight it out in an important series of competitions for Word Cup points. The Union Cycliste Internationale World Cup, that is. Mont-Sainte-Anne Ski Resort recently hosted round five of the cross country and round four of the downhill competition presented by Shimano in Quebec, Canada.
Mont-Sainte-Anne, known for its spectacular biking terrain, boasts 35 km of downhill and 125 km of cross-country paths. With views to match, more than one athlete was grateful to be riding in at this Canadian gem.
The results are in, and there are no big upsets to report. The cross country athletes made a splash on Saturday, literally. Nino Schurter (Scott-Swisspower, SUI) pulled out the win under heavy rain, his third victory of the season, followed by Josa Antonio Hermida Ramos (Multivan Merida, ESP) and Jaroslav Khulavy (Specialized, CZE) in third. Schurter remains solidly in first in the overall rankings. The women were lead by world champion Catharine Pendrel (Luna, CAN), earning the win for the second time in a row. She finished just before Georgia Gould (Luna, USA), and Marie-Helene Premont (Team Maxxis – Rocky Mountain, CAN).
Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing), first place finisher in downhill and overall, competed at Mont-Sainte-Anne at his first World Cup appearance and has been cited as calling it one of his favorites. Even after the downpour during the cross-country competition, the course was mostly dry in time for the downhill athletes, leaving them with a clear blue sky.
Gwin, a 25-year-old American, maintained his lead in the overall downhill rankings his impressive finish this past weekend earning his third consecutive win for the 2012. South African Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) remains close behind with his second place finish. And Danny Hart (Giant) of Great Britain is sticking in third.
The top three downhill women have held their overall positions through this weekend as well. Great Britain’s Rachel Atherton (GT Factory Racing) ended ahead of Myriam Nicole (Commencal/Riding Addiction) and of World Champion Emmeline Ragot (MS Mondraker), both from France. It was a tough race to the finish for Ragot, who was leading the pack until a she broke her chainguard and couldn’t pedal. The three women are all within a few points of each other in the rankings. Right now, as it stands, Atherton is leading, followed by Ragot and Nicole.
As a country, New Zealand had a tremendous showing this year with several top finishers in both the men’s and women’s categories. It was their most successful UCI World Cup event to date. They had four athletes in the top 11 of the elite men’s category in downhill. Samara Sheppard stole the gold in the under-23 cross-country category this year after a perfect race. And the country’s talent prevailed in the junior competition as well.
Take a look at the men’s downhill through the eyes of the GT Team below.
The tour will be in the United States June 28-July 1 at Windham, NY for the eighth stop on the tour. For more information or to explore volunteer opportunities, go to www.racewindham.com.
Featured photo credit: Rob Jones/Cyclingnews.com. From left to right: Gee Atherton (GT), Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate), Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing), Danny Hart (Giant), Sam Hill (Monster Energy)