How to begin describing this race? That's a tough one. Tougher still when you're not allowed to use profanities; just try telling someone about it without swearing. Still, we'd better try... You could say it was a race where the impossible suddenly became possible. A race where expectations were shattered and the rules rewritten; it's brilliance difficult to overstate. This was the best downhill mountain bike race of all time and there'll be few to deny it.
In a disastrous turn of events, all too reminiscent of round one in Lourdes, just before the top 20 dropped in the heavens opened for a deluge that would last the rest of the day. In 15 minutes the track was in ruin, a river for the most part and visibility became the biggest concern for riders on course. Most were off the pace by a massive 10 or 20 seconds and all seemed lost until a certain Aussie refused to lie down and went ballistic almost ousting teammate, Dean Lucas, who rode in the near-dry, from the hot seat.
This was surely the turning point of the race as team managers radioed up to the start hut with the news Jack Moir had almost turned things around; all was not lost and for the cream of the crop there was a title at stake. Although many tried, it was the likes of Brosnan, Bruni and not least, Hart, who pulled something truly special out of the bag, surfing the puddles and skimming the ruts, while somehow finding grip again on a course more fit for white water rafting than any two wheeled machine. They were truly miracle runs. In the end, though, it was all just build up to a positively superhuman performance by one man. Well, we think he's a man, but he's been called a wizard before and after today we need answers. Just how does Aaron Gwin do it?
Getting the job done on home turf and in front of both his parents this weekend, Finn Iles notched another win in Mont Sainte Anne.
Finn Iles full of aggression through the gnarliest section of track.
First in the qualies, first at split 1 and then all up in flames for Matt Walker. That's a damn shame for Britain's top junior.
Joe Breeden would round out the Junior podium in 3rd for team GB and Intense UK.
Sylvain Cougoureux was once again the closest challenger to the dominance of Finn Iles in the Junior race.
Winner and Junior World Cup Champion, Finn Iles.
Melanie Chappaz on the rocks, once again took top honors amongst the Junior Women.
It's that time of year when things get awful serious and all eyes are fixed on the overall. Series leader, Myriam Nicole, with one of the biggest days of her career ahead of her.
Second at the first two splits, Rachel Atherton slipped back down the ranks with her sketchy moment but hung onto the last spot on the podium.
Rachel Atherton relieved to be in one piece after escaping what looked to be a massive crash in her final run. 5th place and healthy enough to battle another day.
Emilie Seigenthaler boosts the final jump to take 4th in the Women's final.
Canada's lucky number 13 gets her final checks before go time.
Miranda Miller on the hunt for a repeat of her podium here last year, but 7th would have to do this time around.
After a flat in the qualies Vaea Verbeeck bit back and sent it to 8th for team Canada.
Tahnee Seagrave prepares for combat in the Quebecois forest with trainer, Chris Kilmurray.
Seagrave rode with renewed speed and confidence today and left all of the other women in her wake. Another win for the young British rider who will be one to watch for many years to come.
Roaring to victory for the second time in her young career. 5.7 seconds is a big one.
Tracey Hannah had been aggressive and pinned all weekend, and not even a flat tire at the end of her run could keep her from the podium.
While not on the winning pace, a flat tire near the finish may have cost Tracey Hannah the second spot on the podium.
Myriam Nicole gets ready to head into the only light of the day during the morning training session.
Nicole pushing to hold second place and stay ahead of the pack headed to Italy.
Tahnee, Emile, and Tracey watch as Myriam Nicole goes slower at the final split.
After a tough week in training, Tahnee Seagrave was ecstatic to pull off the big win when in counted in MSA.
To the victor go the spoils. Congrats Tahnee Seagrave.
Scrub of the day before the rains came... by Isak Leivsson.
Blenki's second brilliant qualifier of the year up in smoke, crashing in the wet... He'll be back.
Rounding out the top 10 was Eliot Jackson.
Mike Jones blurs it into the finish line just before the rain began to fall. The dry conditions would play to his advantage and he would end the day in 5th.
After two days of flat tyres Dean Lucas had a beast of a run in the damp and sketchy conditions before the real rain came down.
In the green and almost doing what, after round 1, we will call 'the Fayolle'.
And then the rains came...
Graeme Mudd was one of the first to tackle the muddy track after the deluge started.
Amaury Pierron was 20th before this weekend's race, but after a disastrous 54th in MSA, he will no longer be protected at the final round in Val di Sole.
It was moist.
Brook MacDonald came down in some of the hardest rain of the day, eventually finishing just inside the top 50.
Some of the luckiest and soggiest, lads on the mountain.
Racing in the rain is all well and good if you can see. In a storm like this, that's a big 'if'.
The mud and rain weren't kind to Mark Wallace who would leave MSA in 36th.
Quebec you cruel, cruel SOB.
59th in the pouring rain for Laurie Greenland. The struggles of the majority of the front runners show just how miraculous the runs of a select few were today.
When everyone thought the race was a total washout, Jack Moir stormed down the track with a wild run to show that the current leaders could and might still be beaten. All of a sudden this race was back on.
No doubt Moir's run changed the tune of this entire race and sent a new message up to those still left in the start hut. The fat lady had not yet sung...
Dream big kids... 51st at split one in the nightmarish conditions, Moir was the first to do the impossible and ride into second place behind team mate Lucas, eventually finishing 8th.
Luca Shaw putting style first on a run from hell.
One of these days Loris Vergier will deliver on the speed and potential we see from him each round in qualifying. While the mud was kind to a select few top riders today, Loris was not one of them.
Loris Vergier, always stoked no matter what happens out on the track.
Another wave of disbelief kicking in as Troy Brosnan almost goes green.
TB down to the line on yet another hero run.
Troy Brosnan had an incredible ride in the mud to finish 6th and score valuable points for the overall. He may have dropped a place to Gwin, but is still very much in contention for the title.
Brosnan came within three seconds of Lucas's time but would miss out on the podium by just one tenth of a second.
Ever the professional, Brosnan enjoyed his day in the mud.
Everyone thought Danny Hart had done it; finally we had the miracle run, mark two. Obscene and brilliant as it was, it would somehow be superseded.
Danny Hart is a true mud specialist, and when he laid down a near perfect but slower run, many began to doubt anyone would be able to knock Dean Lucas off the top step.
Second place at the time felt like a victory for Hart in a legendary run reminiscent of Sam Hill's 2007 Champery classic.
Loic decimated this rock garden in his finals run despite the pouring rain and mud. He was one of few riders who came down in the worst conditions who are truly in a league of their own in the mud.
What a ride for Loic Bruni to take 4th in the worst of conditions.
Props to the hundreds of Quebecois fans who came out fully prepared and stuck it out to the very end to witness the madness.
Greg Minnaar had a disaster of a day, crashing and apparently getting disqualified for reentering the track in the same spot. He claims he hiked back up and may try to protest the decision. With the points race super tight at the front right now, even the minuscule eight points he lost might come in handy at the final round in Val di Sole.
A visibly frustrated and upset Minnaar in the finish arena after his troublesome run.
The crowd was electric as Gwin roared into the finish arena on what looked to be an impossible and winning run.
What a twist of fate for Aaron Gwin. After a puncture ruined his winning run last round in Lenzerheide, it looked as if the weather was going to derail his plans again in Mont-Sainte-Anne. Gwin, however, was having none of it and put down one of the greatest runs of all time to do the impossible.
And the crowd went wild... Gwin sheds the bike to celebrate in the still pouring rain.
It's hard to overstate just how incredibly epic that run was. It was pure and utter brilliance against all the odds.
The gloves are off...
Cometh the hour, cometh the superhuman, the freak... the goddam bicycle wizard.
What a day for the Intense Factory Racing squad, taking the top team honours and after Charlie Harrison's result, all riders will be protected headed to Val di Sole.
Aaron Gwin just upped his legend status a few notches in Mont-Sainte-Anne.
Jones, Bruni, Lucas, Hart and Gwin reflect on a mighty mad day on the hill.
After a day in the pouring rain, getting sprayed down by the final champagne shower almost went unnoticed by those standing close to the celebration.