June 26, 2005 – The UCI World Cup stopped over at the historical stop of Mont Ste. Anne, Quebec this past weekend. With normally high humidity and hot temperatures, body conservation became the name of the game.
Saturday afternoon cross-country featured a technical 5.3 kilometer course that held many short steep climbs and off camber descents. Recently crowned National Champ Geoff Kabush and local Quebecois hero Mathieu Toulouse took the start flying the Maxxis orange and black. With the international contingent on hand, this was a good test for the boys to compare their fitness to the Euros. From the gun, Kabush was on the gas and moved comfortably forward from his 21st starting position to lead the group towards the first section of singletrack. Toulouse wasn’t far behind but was caught behind some traffic to start in the mid-20s. Kabush rode intelligently, allowing other riders to lead the race and set the pace for the first lap. Coming through the start finish line, Kabush sat comfortably in the top ten with teammate Toulouse in the top twenty-five. The fireworks started on the second lap as Christoph Sauser and Fredrik Kessiakoff (Siemens-Cannondale), Adam Craig (Giant), Liam Killeen (Specialized) and Kabush drove to the front and opened a substantial gap to a smaller chasing group. Over the course of the next two laps this group dwindled with Sauser and Kessiakoff charging to a 20 second lead with Craig in third, Kabush dangling in fourth at another 20 seconds and Killeen 30 seconds off his pace. Toulouse looked to be on solid form in front of his decidedly partisan crowd, picking off 4-5 riders per lap and looking for a top ten finish. With only two laps remaining, Kabush caught and passed Craig for third as the Siemens-Cannondale duo continued at the head of the race. In around 8th position, Toulouse was looking comfortable until he snapped his chain and lost nearly 7 minutes dropping him back to the low 30s on the race. Hitting the start/finish line to begin the final lap, the National Champ Kabush looked determined to chase down the two escapees with his sights set on his best ever World Cup finish. At the halfway point, the time gap to Kessiakoff was only 20 seconds but Kabush tempered his pace to conserve his placing and not threaten a puncture or mechanical mishap of any sort. At the line it was Sauser taking his 8th World Cup victory, teammate Kessiakoff in second and Kabush taking the bronze with his first ever World Cup podium appearance. Toulouse soldiered on and overtook many of the riders that had passed him as he repaired his chain and finished a respectable but disappointing 24th place on the day.
Sunday’s downhill course proved to be a throwback from the 90s utilizing the same course that was used for the 1998 World Championships. This longer course featured nearly 3.5 km of descent at high speed and with gnarly wood and rock sections.
With teammate Colin Bailey out of commission, the Kiwi National Champ John Kirkcaldie was the lone gravity representative for Team Maxxis. Still nursing a separated shoulder from the previous weeks NORBA event, JK needed a shoulder brace over his supporting tape in order to maintain good control over his shoulder and his bike. Good solid practice runs proved that the Kiwi was still on form but needed to take it easy during qualifying runs in order to conserve his energy for the final. After qualifying in 23rd place for the day, Kirkcaldie settled in and prepared for the afternoon’s final run. Sprinting out of the gate, JK looked on target for a good run. By the intermediate split it was obvious that a top ten was a very real and very unexpected possibility on this highly physical course. At the final section, JK pounded the pedals and made up for some lost seconds taking the fastest time for the moment and occupying the coveted “Hot Seat”. Rolling through the starting roster, JK was finally unseated but maintained a good time as riders attempted and failed to match his watch. At the final it was Fabien Barel (Kona Les Gets) taking the victory with Greg Minnaar (G-Cross Honda) in silver and Marc Beaumont taking the bronze. Kirkcaldie placed a super solid 11th place on the day and gained good confidence heading into the next event.
Race Results — Cross Country
1. Christoph Sauser — Siemens-Cannondale
2. Fredrik Kessiakoff — Siemens-Cannondale
3. Geoff Kabush — Team Maxxis
4. Adam Craig — Giant
5. Liam Killeen — Specialized
24. Mathieu Toulouse — Team Maxxis
1. Fabien Barel — Kona-Les Gets
2. Greg Minnaar — G-cross Honda
3. Marc Beaumont
4. Mickael Pascal — Maxxis-MSC
5. Chris Kovarik — Intense
11. John Kirkcaldie — Team Maxxis