We head to the historic Mont-Sainte-Anne track for the penultimate round of the 2018 UCI Downhill World Cup. The competition in both of the Elite categories is strong, with Amaury Pierron putting down some incredible wins in the last few races, and Tahnée Seagrave regaining ground in the last couple of races to bring the fight to Atherton and a back-to-competing Myriam Nicole, the latter of which secured a third podium place at the French National Championships after having missed the previous World Cup due to injury. Let’s not forget those other riders who are also looking to come back from injury, notably Aaron Gwin and Greg Minnaar, but perhaps for both riders will want to see how their comeback fares given they’re already down on the points battle for the overall. This could very well mean we’re in for an incredible World Championships in Lenzerheide next month.
That aside, Mont-Sainte-Anne will no doubt host another classic weekend of racing, in fact at the time of writing, some riders are out there already, and with Crankworx just around the corner, this World Cup is the start of successive days of mountain biking action. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves though, let’s delve a little deeper into all you need to know about this year’s Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup.
Mont-Sainte-Anne is the oldest track on the World Cup circuit. Riders have been coming here for decades and quickly fall in love with its high speeds and rough terrain. The track is one of the longest too, and the trail designers and builders are constantly and subtly keeping it challenging and up to date, with a few small alterations thrown in every other year or so. This year there’s a new section of the track called La Tarzan which is reportedly a super-fast technical section through the forest. The final jump at the end of the track has also been modified for spectators’ viewing pleasure.
What Happened At The Last Round
We have to cast our minds back a few weeks to Andorra for the last race of the World Cup. The renowned Vallnord venue was baking thanks to the sunshine, which did mean a few surprises for some riders as the loose fine dirt made it tricky to pilot confidently down the four-minute plus track.
In the Elite Women’s race, with Rachel Atherton having qualified first with over 12 seconds to spare, it seemed that the Brit was back in the game, especially with Myriam Nicole out with an injury that weekend. It was, however, fellow Brit Tahnee Seagrave who crossed the line in the finals with a strong time - a time that was a better than Atherton’s qualifying time by a few seconds - but how long could it last? It was a nervous watch for Seagrave as Atherton took to the track and by the first two splits, she was up on Seagrave’s time by 3.9-seconds. However, Atherton somehow went off track and had to push back up to re-enter where she left. She would eventually cross the line close to Seagrave’s time but not enough to clinch the win. This would be Seagrave’s third win out of five races in 2018, and her first back-to-back win to add to her growing collection of achievements.
Credit: Red Bull
In the Elite Men’s race, we were all wondering whether Amaury Pierron could maintain his run of podium wins into Vallnord, especially given the pressure of racing on his team’s home soil. The day before Luca Shaw had topped qualifying - would we be seeing him finally take the win he’s been looking ready to take?
Come race day we would see Finn Iles taking the hot seat early on, crossing the line faster than Shaw’s qualifying time the day before. Iles had set the marker. The wildmen of the moment Eddie Masters and Thomas Estaque soon followed, with Estaque riding on the bleeding edge of Lady Luck and somehow managing to get down the mountain in one piece despite a crash halfway through his run.
Iles’s teammate was up next; Loic Bruni wasn’t having the best of runs, no thanks to an injury suffered in qualifying, making small mistakes here and there, eventually costing him valuable time. It was then another Frenchman who took to the track - Loris Vergier carried plenty of speed over some never before seen lines, and soon he was gaining time as he progressed. Vergier crossed the line 4.5 seconds up from Iles… but we’ve seen this before, right?
It was then Amaury Pierron's chance at another first-place finish but after a relatively sluggish top half, he managed to claw back the time in the lower, steeper section but it wasn’t enough to best Vergier’s time. Up next was Macdonald, Greenland and Hart but none of them were able to get close enough to Vergier’s time. It was then left to one solitary man at the top of the mountain in the form of Luca Shaw. Hoping to not come undone again, Luca looked to be on a strong run. But, yet again glory was snatched from under him after he crashed but finally we saw Vergier taking his first World Cup win in Elites. Brook Macdonald finished in second, ahead of Amaury Pierron in third.
Credit: Red Bull
Rider StandingsELITE MEN
1st // Amaury PIERRON // FRA // 933 // No change
2nd // Loris VERGIER // FRA // 653 // -280 // Moves up from 7th
3rd // Laurie GREENLAND // GBR // 646 // -287 // Moves down from 2nd
4th // Troy BROSNAN // AUS // 596 // -337 // Moves down from 3rd
5th // Danny HART // GBR // 586 // -347 // No change
6th // Luca SHAW // USA // 528 // -405 // No change
7th // Brook MACDONALD // NZL // 492 // -441 // Moves up from 9th
8th // Aaron GWIN // USA // 481 // -452 // Moves down from 4th
9th // Samuel BLENKINSOP // NZL // 416 // -517 // Moves down from 8th
10th // Connor FEARON // AUS // 359 // -574 // New to top 10ELITE WOMEN
1st // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR // 986 // No change
2nd // Tahnée SEAGRAVE // GBR // 906 // -80 // No change
3rd // Tracey HANNAH // AUS // 740 // -246 // Moves up from 4th
4th // Myriam NICOLE // FRA // 610 // -376 // Moves down from 3rd
5th // Monika HRASTNIK // SLO // 582 // -404 // No change
6th // Marine CABIROU // FRA // 496 // -490 // Moves up from 7th
7th // Emilie SIEGENTHALER // SUI // 476 // -510 // Moves down from 6th
8th // Cecile RAVANEL // FRA // 375 // -611 // New to top 10
9th // Mariana SALAZAR // ESA // 312 // -674 // Moves up from 10th
10 // Veronika WILDMANN // ITA // 303 // -683 // Moves down from 9th
What Happened Here Last Year
As with this year, Mont-Sainte-Anne hosted the penultimate round of the 2017 championship. In the Elite Women’s race the field was wide open, and with Rachel Atherton suffering from an injury, it was Tracey Hannah, Myriam Nicole and Tahnée Seagrave vying for all important points before going into the final round.
Seagrave was the rider who had managed to put in a blistering time early on - ahead of Emilie Siegenthaler by 12 seconds - giving her prime position from the hot seat to watch her closest rivals try to challenge her. Atherton raced but it was clear she wasn’t at her best as she rode prudently down the track, but her strength still showed as she managed to dramatically save herself from taking a tumble on one of the fast rock sections.
Tracey Hannah was up next but her effort was cut short thanks to a rear wheel puncture. With the determination we know so well from the Australian, she kept on going and would eventually find herself in third place. It was then up to Myriam Nicole to try to topple Seagrave. Her smooth looking run looked like it could be a challenge but the splits said otherwise and she crossed the line in second place, giving the win to a jubilant Seagrave.
Last year the battle for the overall looked to be going down to three riders; Aaron Gwin, Troy Brosnan and Greg Minnaar. It looked like it was going to be a typical race on the mountain, that was until the heavens overhead decided to pour down what looked like the volume of a nearby lake.
Dean Lucas was the rider who managed to secure the fastest time before the rain came down torrentially, leaving the remaining 25 riders to take to a completely different track. With the track still managing to hold traction, it was hard going to find new lines let alone see what was ahead thanks to the low visibility. It would be 15 riders in when the rain became slightly less biblical and Jack Moir took full advantage, although he crossed the line four seconds back from Lucas, the crowd went wild with excitement as they waited for the upcoming rain-masters like Hart to take to the track. Troy Brosnan shaved 1.5 seconds off Moir’s time, and it was clear the following riders could start posing a real threat to Lucas. Danny Hart and Loic Bruni were up next, with Hart putting down an awe-inspiring run that saw him gain time at the lower section of the track, eventually crossing the line just shy of Lucas’s time and into second place.
It was then the turn of Greg Minnaar, but he couldn’t master the track in the tough conditions and would eventually gain a heart-sinking disqualification which would cost him dear in the fight for the title.
Aaron Gwin was the final rider to go and as he took to the track we all knew it was going to be a wild few minutes. Gwin looked to be on the ragged edge, darting in and over features to find the best grip. It wasn’t long before the splits were on and they were all showing green; Gwin just needed to get down the hill safely, but typically he rode with his all-or-nothing style to the bottom. He crossed the line with a second to spare over Lucas’s time, taking the win and adding a new page to the most amazing race runs in the history of mountain biking.
Credit: Red Bull
2017 // Aaron GWIN // USA
2016 // Danny HART // GBR
2015 // Josh BRYCELAND // GBR
2014 // Sam HILL // AUS
2013 // Steve SMITH // CAN
2012 // Aaron GWIN // USA
2011 // Aaron GWIN // USA
2010 // Sam HILL // AUS *
2009 // Sam HILL // AUS
2008 // Greg MINNAAR // RSA
2007 // Sam HILL // AUS
2006 // Chris KOVARIK // AUS
2005 // Fabien BAREL // FRA
2004 // Steve PEAT // GBR
2003 // Steve PEAT // GBR
2002 // Steve PEAT // GBR
2001 // Chris KOVARIK // AUS
2000 // Fabien BAREL // FRA
1999 // Steve PEAT // GBR
1998 // Nicolas VOUILLOZ // FRA *
1997 // Corrado HERIN // ITA
1996 // Tomi MISSER // ESP
1995 // Franck ROMAN // FRA
1994 // Jurgen BENEK // GER
1993 // John TOMAC // USA
2017 // Tahnee SEAGRAVE // GBR
2016 // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR
2015 // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR
2014 // Manon CARPENTER // GBR
2013 // Emmeline RAGOT // FRA
2012 // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR
2011 // Tracy MOSELEY // GBR
2010 // Tracy MOSELEY // GBR *
2009 // Sabrina JONNIER // FRA
2008 // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR
2007 // Sabrina JONNIER // FRA
2006 // Sabrina JONNIER // FRA
2005 // Tracy MOSELEY // GBR
2004 // Sabrina JONNIER // FRA
2003 // Fionn GRIFFITHS // GBR
2002 // Anne-Caroline CHAUSSON // FRA
2001 // Sabrina JONNIER // FRA
2000 // Missy GIOVE // USA
1999 // Anne-Caroline CHAUSSON // FRA
1998 // Anne-Caroline CHAUSSON // FRA *
1997 // Missy GIOVE // USA
1996 // Leigh DONOVAN // USA
1995 // Nolveen LE CAER // FRA
1994 // Elke BRUTSAERT // USA
1993 // Missy GIOVE // USA
Note: * denotes World Championship race.
The Weather Forecast
Watching It In Person
Good news - it’s free entry to watch all the action all weekend. Just turn up and enjoy! Don’t forget there’s also the World Cup Short-Track XC finals to watch on Friday, and the World Cup XC finals on Sunday, plus a mini enduro, kids race and parties every night.
Must Know, Must See, Must Do
Located in La Côte-de-Beaupré region, the closest town to the resort of Mont-Sainte-Anne is Beaupré. Sitting alongside the Saint Lawrence River, the surroundings are tranquil and vast. Going back in time the region was taken over by the French as part of their ‘New France’ colony in the mid 16th century as part of France’s mighty battle with Great Britain to secure rich bounty held within the New World. The name of Beaupré apparently originating from when French sailors landed decades later and remarked “Oh! le beau pré" which translates into ‘Oh! The beautiful meadow!’
When the traders established themselves the town grew, and with that so did the governing local administration. In doing so, the parish serving Beaupré was formed out of the two oldest in Quebec and it has been relishing in its history and culture ever since. With the establishment of the resort in the 20th century, winter leisure seekers flocked to the highest skiing station in the eastern part of Canada, and its use as a mountain biking location wasn’t too far behind.
There are lots of things to do to keep you entertained when you’re not enjoying watching the race or riding the local trails. There’s karting, paintballing, trekking, brewery tours, and several art galleries to wander around. There are several historical buildings to visit too, including a turn-of-the-19th-century convent that now hosts cultural exhibitions. The building harks back to the French style of architecture and is an imposing sight. There are century old churches to visit too, such as the Eglise de Saint-Joachim, and there’s La Grande Ferme, a house where you can go back in time to see what rural 19th-century life was like in the region.
After Tahnee's stellar performance in Andorra where she undisputedly beat Rachel Atherton on the world stage, I think her time has come and she will roll with it from now on. Atherton for the first time in years will genuinely be playing catch up. With Myriam Nicole returning to racing after an injury, Tracey Hannah will clean up the third spot, and there’ll be a huge distance between the top-3 and the rest of the field."
“We have no idea what state Gwin’s thumb is in except some Insta-shots of him in the gym and a picture of his hands-free grips at the top of a mountain. Minnaar is also keeping his cards close to his chest about the state of his arm after the fracture sustained at Fort William. Anyway, if those two powerhouses are back at full strength we will see a change from both in an attempt to recover some podium respect and a final speed check before the final World Cup and World Championships.
In terms of healthy riders, it’s hard to bet against Pierron who will truck down the long and rough MSA. Vergier should have a boost he needs after sticking the win in Vallnord, and surely Shaw’s speed will graduate past qualifying?
Pinkbike's World Cup Predictionator
1 // Luca SHAW
2 // Loris VERGIER
3 // Amaury PIERRON
1 // Tahnee SEAGRAVE
2 // Rachel ATHERTON
3 // Tracey HANNAH
The ScheduleTuesday 07 August
• 15:00-16:00 Downhill Course Walk by BroadcasterWednesday 08 August
• 08:30-11:00 // Downhill Course Inspection by UCI
• 11:00-12:00 // Downhill On Board Course Preview
• 13:00-14:00 // On Foot Downhill Course Inspection - Elite Teams
• 14:00-16:00 // On Foot Downhill Course Inspection - All RidersThursday 09 August
• 08:00-11:30 // Official Downhill Training - Group B
• 11:45-15:15 // Official Downhill Training - Group A
• 15:30-17:00 // Downhill Timed Training Session
• 17:00-17:45 // On Foot Downhill Course Inspection - Riders and TeamsFriday 10 August
• 08:00-09:45 // Official Downhill Training - Group B
• 10:00-11:45 // Official Downhill Training - Group A
• 12:15 // Seeding Run - Junior Women
• 12:30 // Qualifying Round - Junior Men
• 13:30 // Qualifying Round - Elite Women
• 14:00 // Qualifying Round - Elite Men
• Followed by // On Foot Downhill Course Inspection - Riders and TeamsSaturday 11 August
• 08:00-09:00 // Official Downhill Training - Junior Women, Junior Men, Elite Women
• 09:45 // Final - Junior Women
• 10:15 // Final - Junior Men
• 11:00-12:00 // Official Downhill Training - Elite Men
• 12:30 // Final - Elite Women
• 13:30 // Final - Elite MenNote: All times are local and subject to change by the UCI/event organiser.
Eager to get on with things, most teams are already making themselves at home in Mont-Sainte-Anne, and so too have our media crew. Although there’s no time for getting too comfortable, as Pinkbike will soon be providing you with photos epics, tech pieces, and results as they come in. We’ll also have WynTV and Inside The Tape from Ben Cathro.
For the Elite Women and Elite Men finals, you can watch the action on Red Bull TV on Saturday 11 August at 12:30 EDT (Elite Women coverage) and 14:00 EDT (Elite Men coverage).
Here’s a breakdown of what these times mean in these main locations (w = Elite Women’s coverage, m = Elite Men’s coverage):
• 09:30 (w) // 11:00 (m) // Saturday // Vancouver, Canada (PDT)
• 17:30 (w) // 19:00 (m) // Saturday // London, UK (BST)
• 18:30 (w) // 20:00 (m) // Saturday // Berlin, Germany (CEST)
• 02:30 (w) // 04:00 (m) // Sunday // Sydney, Australia (AEST)
• 04:30 (w) // 06:00 (m) // Sunday // Auckland, New Zealand (NZST)Note: These times are subject to change. Please check with your local provider.
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