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Canada’s Miller Lands Inaugural DH World Cup Podium & Wallace Career-best 6th @ MSA – Report, Interviews and PHOTOS

by Fraser Britton
Miranda Miller  ©  Michal Cerveny
Aug. 1, 2015 (Mont-Sainte-Anne, QC) – Canada had a banner day on Saturday at Round 5 of the Downhill UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. Reigning national champ Miranda Miller (Specialized/SRAM) from B.C., took home her first World Cup podium finishing 5th in the Elite Women’s DH final, while Mark Wallace (Devinci Global Racing) was just off the podium in 6th in the Elite Men’s final. Casey Brown (Can) Bergamont Hayes Components Factory Team was just behind Miller in 7th.

Josh Bryceland  ©  Michal Cerveny
This year is the 25th anniversary of World Cup competition at Mont-Saint-Anne, as well as the 150th Downhill World Cup in the history of the sport. British riders won all three categories and God Save the Queen was played repeatedly as Laurie Greenland (Trek World Racing) started the medal rush in the Junior Men’s race, followed by Rachel Atherton (GT Factory) in Elite women’s competition, and finally Josh Bryceland (Santa Cruz Syndicate) won the 150th World Cup in the Elite men’s final.

MSA DH course  ©  Peter Kraiker

The track here at MSA is a beast, and the 25th running of the race here didn’t pull any punches. As usual, the race course features full speed open sections littered with loose sniper rocks hidden in the weeds, as well as incredible slick technical rock gardens that make rider’s arms scream for mercy.  With the typical crazy Quebec weather, both qualifying and race day had bouts of rain then sun but the weather did not impact the results. Riders rode everything from slippery, muddy roots and rocks, to dusty blown out high speed berms and finally, come race time, almost perfect hero dirt.

Rachel Atherton  ©  Fraser Britton

Carina Cappellari (Radon Magura Factory) set the first sub-5:30 time for the Elite women, only to have Morgane Charre (Solid-Reverse Factory) knocked over 13 seconds off the leading time a couple of riders later. Charre’s time held up for four riders before Canadian champion Miller took four-tenths of a second off the lead.

Carpenter  ©  Peter Kraiker

Myriam Nicole (Commencal/Vallnord) then took the top time below 5:10 to move into the Hot Seat with three riders remaining. World champion Manon Carpenter (Madison Saracen) bumped Nicole by two-tenths of a second and, with Round 1 winner Emmeline Ragot (MS Mondraker) a non-starter due to injuries suffered in a training crash earlier in the day, only Atherton stood between Carpenter and her first win of the season.

Casey Brown  ©  Peter Kraiker

However, Atherton was clearly the fastest, nearly three seconds ahead at the first split. She had lost a bit by Split 2, but regained it in the lower portion the course to win by 3.417 seconds, for her fourth consecutive World Cup victory of the season.

Georgia Astle (Can)  ©  Peter Kraiker

“I’m so happy,” exclaimed Atherton. “Mont-Saint-Anne always kicks my ass’ it’s a really hard track. I was in the start gate and it was hammering down rain, and I though ‘oh, no’ … but I decided to ride it like it was dry … it wasn’t! I had some pretty wild moments and it wasn’t a pretty run, so I’m happy to make it to the finish.

“Getting beaten last year by Manon definitely gave me motivation, and I’ve been training well, and everything has just been working for me. Every athlete has a time at the top and, luckily for me, my time is this year,” added Atherton.

Elite Women's podium  ©  Michal Cerveny
Women's podium celebrations  ©  Peter Kraiker
For her part, Miller was over the moon with her first ever World Cup podium. The Squamish native has been around the block, and has earned every bit of it. “This feels pretty good. I had a pretty embarrassing finish I’m going to try and forget! As soon as I get over that, I’ll probably feel a bit better!  There’s a finish line jump, and I don’t know, I panicked and grabbed all of my brakes. I did the most awkward ride around the side. Now that I think about it, I could have jut rolled straight over it. It was just bad. Other than that I’m pretty pleased with a podium here in Quebec,” Miller told Pedal.

Miller  ©  Peter Kraiker
Miller finishing  ©  Michal Cerveny

Atherton now holds a commanding lead in the overall standings with 1160 points, followed by Ragot at 785 and Carpenter at 714. Atherton needs only 126 points in the two remaining rounds to mathematically win the title.

Gwin  ©  Peter Kraiker

Torrential rain for the top men in qualifying upended the start order, with World Cup leader Aaron Gwin (Specialized) starting 20th from last after crashing out of his qualifying run. Despite that, Gwin laid down the first sub-4:30 time to move into the Hot Seat. He was bumped five riders later by World Cup Number 2 Loic Bruni (Lapierre Gravity Republic), whose time of 4:22.356 would prove to be extremely fast, as rider after rider in the top-15 could not match it.

Bruni  ©  Peter Kraiker

Wallace had a super run sitting in third with 10 riders still to come. Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas (Col) Giant Factory Off-Road Team pushed him into fourth. With four riders to go, defending World Cup champion Bryceland squeaked in two-tenths of a second faster than Bruni bumping Wallace into 5th.

Wallace  ©  Fraser Britton

Troy Brosnan (Aus) Specialized Racing was the final rider as the Aussie was the closest to Bryceland at 0.225 seconds bumping the Wallace to 6th for a career-best finish and his first top 10 result. Wallace’s teammate, Steve Smith, finished 41st as he tries to regain his old form.

Steve Smith  ©  Peter Kraiker

Bryceland was surprised with his win, not thinking he had a run that would hold up. “Im pretty surprised to be honest. It wasn’t great to plan and I was hesitant in a few bits and a bit messy… it was a really big surprise.

“It’s been hard getting over injuries, but I was just patient, just bided my time and do what I do,” explained Bryceland. “But I knew it was going well this week in practice, and I had a good qualifier, so I just couldn’t wait to race today.

Bryceland  ©  Peter Kraiker

“The track is just a brute – it wasn’t runnings as good as it has been by race time – but I picked some good lines and tried to find a smooth way. The open bits dried up, but the woods have been getting showers all day, so it was proper slimy. I knew it was going to be good, but I honestly thought Troy was going to get me. This is mint,” he concluded.

Elite Men's podium  ©  Michal Cerveny

Gwin managed to hold onto the overall series lead with 839 points, but Bruni has moved closer, and is now only 25 points back with two races remaining. South Africa’s Greg Minnaar also moves closer, 70 points out of the lead.

Max Scharf  ©  Peter Kraiker

In the Junior men’s competition, Laurie Greenland’s win, with Alex Marin Trillo (Giant Factory) in second and Andrew Crimmins (Kona Factory) third, puts Greenland into the overal World Cup lead, with 230 points to former leader Crimmins’ 202.

J M podium  ©  Peter Kraiker

Once again Max Scharf (Canada-B) led the Canucks in 14th with Daniel Shaw (Can) Canada in 15th and Bracken Camilleri (Can) Canada in 19th all in the top 20.

Magnus Mason  ©  Peter Kraiker

Results here – watch today’s MSA DH races here.

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