Afterbang - Chapter 4 - Mont St Anne

Aug 16, 2013
by Nathan Hughes  
bigquotesThe difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man's determination.- Somebody wise.
The unworldly quality of the fog shrouded trees during the first few days at Mt St Anne was simply amazing.
witness the wetness
The Ring wraiths ride in black. Luke Strobel in the misty Shire.
Fogger
Andrew Neethling threading the needle.
The mists hang in the trees of the early week... Everything lies still and damp. The deep, dark forests of Quebec currently harbor the world's best riders rushing about under the cover of the thick fog. The woods are innocent to the scenes of high speed depravity that will take place in these haunts before the week is out. What is to come is something very rarely seen: A rider going up against a clock set to fast-forward with the determination to almost stop time itself.

The foggy day practices were Minnaar s downfall perhaps. That complete lack of dry tire traction in the woods and in the open sections meant that when the rain came Minnaar opted to run spikes. But the deluge that came down had no effect in the woods and minimal effect in the open those spike tires gave Minnaar anything but confidence on his descent.
Weather would play a part in this race, from the predictably moist opening days of even, flat light, to the sun-mottled practice of race morning and all the on and off inbetween. Those soggy days of prelude may have been Minnaar's downfall for one. That complete lack of dry tire traction in the woods and in the open sections meant that when the rain came, Minnaar opted to run spikes. But the deluge that came down had no effect in the woods, and minimal effect in the open; those spike tires gave Minnaar anything but confidence on his descent.

Trackside carnage happens when you push hard.
Balls for rent
Mont St Anne, in all it's 21 years of glory has never been for the faint-hearted. In times gone by it was not unheard of for girls racing to shed tears on crossing the line. The track varied, but remained characterized by the brutality of surface, length and speed. At world cup level a puncture isn't an accident, it's a rider error. That's not to say you don't need luck on your side to go the distance. Everybody makes mistakes and sure enough even the big names felt the hurt at some stage of the weekend. Chainguides took a hammering, rims became much more 3 dimensional than required and cassettes gobbled up the remains of stripped rims. No surprise to see wily locals out to capitalize on the demand for dangling courage.

Chips and mental fortitude
Timing chips are clipped in place, and from the moment the riders clear the gate, seconds start ticking off, gears whir, 1s and 0s are crunched, and if you've kept focus, and had a dash of luck, you get a green board to display your efforts. Sam Dale gets mentally dialed in for his race. To some it may seem like a bit of mystical horse sh*t to previsualize the race run, but the fact is you can't overstate the importance of mindset in downhill racing. And times have never been so tight. Dale's admirable +6.5 would put him all the way back in 28th place.

Gee shreds to hotseat
Say what you will about the conditions, Atherton's run was crippling fast to the competition. He pumped out of the iconic, double-down start ramp and hit that first turn with a venom he was able to maintain flawlessly for every remaining inch of the track. This is undoubtedly the season of his career so far. It would take some kind of miracle to top a rain-free run of the caliber Gee produced, despite him feeling unhappy with it personally.

Dry tires or cut spikes The panic that the rain started up top in the closing minutes of the race was quite literally epic. Many racers had no tear offs for what was suddenly going to be a wet one. As to tire selection--that was pure mental torture for most. The deluge promised slick conditions in the open sections of the track but the trees held off the worst of the wet in the woods... Overall keeping dry tires on was the better call for the top men for sure it was slick but the two days of sun the track received meant that the surface was slick but not gooey as a consequence cut spikes were anything but a reassuring choice as Greg Minnaar discoverd.
  Dry tires or cut spikes? In the closing minutes of the race when the rain came down the stress level in the lift station must have been just epic. Many racers had no tear offs or mudguards for what was suddenly going to be full-on wet one. As for tire selection, that was pure mental torture for most. The deluge promised slick conditions in the open sections of the track, but the trees held off the worst of the wet in the woods... Overall, keeping dry tires on was the better call for the top men; for sure it was slick, but the two days of sun the track received meant that the surface was slick, but not gooey; as a consequence, cut spikes were not the right decision.
00:00 04:21

Bulldog in the rain
No doubt MacDonald bore the brunt of the worst weather on his run. When the rain came up top, panic ensued. Given Sam Hill's decidedly better chances at a top step finish, particularly in the wet, Matt Simmonds of CRC racing graciously "donated" his tear offs to Hill, who had none. Who knows if that 3.2 second difference between Simmonds taking fourteenth place and Hill taking third place could come down to the clearer vision the tear offs provided? Either way, Simmonds taking one for the team was a huge move.

Racing for the win at the 2013 UCI MTB World Cup DH race held at Mt St Anne in Quebec
Welcome back Aaron Gwin, the man who owned this track and so many others two years running. Yes it's a question, did he get slower or did the competition move up again? Whatever the case, after nearly getting the job done in the wet and now up to 6th in the standings, he seems ready to follow up inquiries.

Classic hip
Silent but deadly--Sam Hill slicing effortlessly through the roosty goodness of the first day of practice. Hill thrives on wet riding--or at least he s developed a reputation of reveling in it. The storm that soaked the top tier riders of the Men s Final though forced him to scavenge tear-offs from teammate Matthew Simmonds for his race run.
00:00 04:21
Silent but deadly... Sam Hill slicing effortlessly through the roosty goodness of the first day of practice. Hill thrives on wet riding, or at least he's developed a reputation of reveling in it. Whatever the case, Sam is anchored back on the steps of the podium like a homeless highway protester.

uplifting
Last man on deck. I ve always had disappointing results and always wanted to do better. So to take a win is just indescribable. It s better for me than World Championships getting a win like this on home soil.
As Smith set off you could see the potential for something special to unfold. But how special? He did look aggressive and immaculate through the turns, but frankly it was hard to imagine a man on a bicycle going any quicker than what had already been set down by Atherton.

Smith on route
The most invested fans of the week were Stevie s teammates. Gianluca Vernassa took 5th in the junior race ear
A fraction back at split 1, a slither back at split 2... red numbers all the way to the line as the world waited. Junior team mate, Gianluca Vernassa, and the Devinci cross country girls struggle with the uncertainty of what was certainly history in the making.

Final hit ftw
Stevie almost there
Stevie s Quebec-appropriate old-timey-movie-bad-guy mustache attire sure paid off this weekend. Nothing like winning on home turf.
Air Canada... Stevie Smith hitting warp and only a flash away from bringing it home for the people chanting his name.

Steve Smith and instant celebration.
winning
Top 3
A people sandwich Hugh Hefner could be jealous of. Smith slots between the greats just nice and looks right at home.

thousand questions
00:00 04:21
Smith after his incredible winning run.
Experts may never be able to accurately measure exactly what level of stoke was reached by Smith from the win. Estimates place somewhere between Felix Baumgartner's successful fall to Earth and desert island rescue.

Gee think time
00:00 04:21
Series leader
Atherton 847, Smith 727, Minnaar 535, Hill 509, Thirion 430... is the current lay of the land. Norway beckons, but is blocked from view by the Cape of Good Hope.

Elvis lives and has been recently spotted on a podium somewhere near Quebec City.
  In other news, Elvis lives and has been recently spotted on a podium somewhere near Quebec City.
00:00 04:21

00:00 04:21
How sweet it is.
00:00 04:21
Smith's sampled top step champagne once before, but this time it was an altogether more momentous win with the most exciting and perfect final run in recent years. The mustache enters it's own hall of fame.

Troy Brosnan tries to crack into some beers for mom and dad who came out to watch the race all the way from Australia. Unfortunately the young ripper isn t quite adept at it yet and managed to take the entire top off of the bottle instead.
  Troy Brosnan tries to crack into some beers for mom and dad, who came out to watch the race all the way from Australia. Unfortunately, the young ripper isn't quite adept at it yet and managed to take the entire top off of the bottle instead.

Post race shenanigans with Ratboy and crew. Party on Wayne Party on Garth
  Post race shenanigans with Ratboy and crew. That's Afterbang baby!

Pics: Colin Meagher, Paris Gore, Fraser Britton, Nathan Hughes
Words: Nathan Hughes & Colin Meagher


32 Comments

  • 48 2
 Hey Pinkbike, continue the afterbangs!!!! great way to wrap up epic world cup racing. Love these photo essays and the words behind what happened. Always up for more "behind the scenes" photos and words (Love Meagher's pit shots!!!)
  • 7 0
 Hey Pinkbike, listen to zuestman. Thx,
  • 37 1
 1) Devinci XC girls look awesome. 2) Gwin looks pissed.
  • 15 1
 1) Dat thighs..
2) Read the discription for Gwins photo. Epic!
  • 11 0
 Gwin was actually all smile for most of the ceremony
  • 19 2
 I met Gwin afterwards and he was all smiles and upbeat, even happy for Smiths win in his homeland and trust me Gwin knows what it's all about. Gwin = Class act.
  • 1 0
 I also know that Gwin is a very serious competitor and I could see him being pissed at himself for not placing better, especially considering his overall standings.
  • 7 1
 Gee looks pissed in every pic except the one where the announcer is saying he is still 120 points ahead of his nearest competitor. And very much agreed on the note of the Devinci XC girls.
  • 1 1
 gwin doesn't look pissed.
he looks like josh homme.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYq7TgG8P6g&list=PLEFFF135A76810760&index=185

qotsa.
  • 2 0
 gee looks pissed, because gee is pissed
  • 21 0
 To Matt Simmons -- top form, good sir.
  • 19 1
 Red shorts Devinci girl, yes pls!
  • 8 0
 So stoked for Stevie's win!!
  • 8 0
 Ratboy is always doing something mischievous haha
  • 5 0
 F*cking eh! Canada represented by the one, the only, Stevie Smith. Mustache and all. Congrats man!
  • 5 0
 Gwin wins the interviews. Always awesome to hear positive attitude no matter the outcome.
  • 2 0
 Stunning pics. some are visualy captivating for the trippy atmosphere. There are pics that show the skill and action of the racers. Then there are the pics that show the crazy vibe this race creates. All done with superb skill from the very talented photographers.
  • 6 1
 These write ups always make my day!
  • 6 0
 Balls for rent!!!!
\m/
  • 4 1
 Is that Gee smiling in the photo where Stevie is having a drink of champagne on the podium? Hmmm. Seems the rumors he never smiles may be mistaken. Intense dude.
  • 4 0
 Cant get the audio for some reason?
  • 3 0
 Was there a women's race? Doesn't look like it. Really great coverage of half of the event pink bike.
  • 3 0
 SUCH a sick race. the weather! the drama! the patriotism!
  • 1 0
 Firstly I read "after bang", then noticed "balls for rent" advert.. next I rushed to check if I havent mistyped the website address.
  • 1 0
 Pictures speak for it self ! Seeing gee by him self in the podium made me realize how Stevie is taking over the game for now on.
  • 4 1
 Yeah Stevie!!!
  • 1 0
 love the chainsaw nickname on stevies shorts ...the stache styler wins in dramatic fashion. Congrats on the win Stevie
  • 3 0
 Great story and photos.
  • 1 0
 I missed the race Frown Where can I watch a replay??
  • 1 0
 -hope you win worlds, stevie smith- sam's w is close!
  • 1 0
 Troy, let me help you with that brew, bud.
  • 1 0
 awesome shots

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