Few tracks make your hair stand on end quite like Mont-Sainte-Anne. With a history and heritage not many tracks can touch, it has been the site of drama aplenty over the years. Not least last season when Aaron Gwin snatched a near impossible victory despite a sodden track. The challenge the track poses stretches far greater than the unpredictable weather, however, from death grip inducing straights where bravery is highlighted to tight and twisty woods where precision is key. To tame Mont-Sainte-Anne requires a careful balance of risk versus reward. Who will overcome it this weekend is anyone's guess.
This year's campaign has been one plagued by injuries, misfortune, and for some, triumph. As we arrived into MSA the men's series has a runaway leader in Amaury Pierron, but he has a whole host of hungry riders behind him who have been chopping and changing their places in the overall, race by race. The likes of Greenland, Vergier, Shaw, Brosnan, and Bruni to name a few. Both of last season's big hitters Aaron Gwin and Greg Minnaar have been laid up injured at points but whilst Gwin remains out, Minnaar is back in the midst of things. The big news from the women's field is that Myriam Nicole has returned from her back injury sustained in Val di Sole and is set to 'interfere' with the tight title battle between Rachel Atherton and Tahnée Seagrave. It looks like that one is going to go down to the wire, but which of them will seize the momentum once all is said and done on Saturday?
Talk of some fresh changes held true with the flat-out blast on the ski piste now negotiating a couple of chicanes before diving into some fresh cut in the woods with a sizeable drop thrown in there for good measure. This section will cut up and change run by run with line choice bountiful for those who seek it. It's the same old classic Mont-Sainte-Anne track though, the challenge never changes or gets easier. Although there's not much in the way of a significant pedal it's still a physical beast with little to no letup, riders are taken from one technical section to another by warp speed straights which are technical in their own sense, meaning there's no rest physically or mentally. After a sizeable deluge yesterday the track has been left soft in places, slippery in the woods, and there's also the occasional rain rut thrown in there for good measure. There could be more moisture coming tomorrow, but the forecast for the remainder of the weekend looks to be dry so the racing should be red hot, as long as there's not a repeat of last year's mid-final downpour. Tomorrow we'll get the ball rolling and begin to shape the picture for the scene to come.
: @natedh9 / @rossbellphoto