When dawn broke over Mont-Sainte-Anne today the track was a bit of an unknown quantity, what condition it'd be in was anyone's guess. As riders and teams made their way to the pits yesterday's moody skies had vanished, and in their place was a bluebird day, the sun doing what it could to burn off the last off the lingering water. Practice was somewhat unrepresentative of the track the riders would tackle for the remainder of the weekend, with the first few exploratory runs revealing extremely greasy track conditions. Riders had to adapt to an ever-changing track as the day progressed - Mont-Sainte-Anne certainly doesn't make it easy.
The great thing about this season has been the unpredictability. The racing has been wide open, with a whole host of riders fighting to stake their claim on World Cup glory, and today was no different. Danny Hart and Loic Bruni squeezed ahead of overall leader Amaury Pierron, both of them on the hunt for another elusive World Cup win. The top 3 were separated by just seven-tenths of a second on over four minutes of track. In fact, even 7th placed Loris Vergier was only 2.5 seconds back, well and truly in touch for tomorrow.
For the women, it was the two atop the series who rejoined battle, with Tahnee Seagrave getting the upper hand on Rachel Atherton by two and a half seconds, and more crucially, clawing ever closer to Atherton, who currently has the lead in the overall points race. Returnee Myriam Nicole took a distant third as she eases her way back from injury; the long MSA track is fragmenting the women's field a little with the top two setting a scorching pace at the front of the pack - can anyone close in when it matters tomorrow? Juniors Kye A'Hern and Thibaut Daprela had a game of split time ping pong before Kye ultimately came out on top by half a second, while Vali Holl continued her unbelievable start to her WC career a full half minute up on the rest of the field.
Qualifying strongly, of course, doesn't directly translate to your race result. With half the battle done there'll certainly be a few nervous minds this evening, some tentatively thinking about that top step while others scratch their heads about the time they'll need to find in the morning to put themselves in contention. All questions will be put to bed very, very soon...