July 06, 2011 (Mont-Ste-Anne, QC) – Summer finally showed up on Saturday in Mont-Sainte-Anne, QC just in time for the U23 and Elite XC races after showers all week long made the 4.7km race course slippery in the technical wooded singletrack sections. But race day dawned hot and humid and temperatures were already in the 20s for the U23 men’s race at 9:30 am. The biggest excitement of the day came courtesy of Catharine Pendrel (Can) Luna Pro Team, when she won the five-lap elite women’s race – her fifth World Cup victory. Sunday saw more Canadians on the podium in the junior races.
Many riders suffered visibly in the heat and difficult conditions. Despite the intense sun, the trails in the forest stayed muddy and it was a surprise to the riders as they were often forced to dismount and run the slippery rooty sections. There were also a lot of crashes and DNF’s including women’s Olympic Champion Sabine Spitz (Ger) Central Ghost Team. All pics with this post are from the Elite Men’s race – for more photos see links below.
The elite women’s race kicked off at 11:45 am under an already blazing sun. Eva Lechner (Ita) Colnago Farbe Sudtirol led out the 22.8km contest with the powerful Marie-Hélène Prémont (Can) Maxxis-Rocky Mountain also up front, while Pendrel struggled behind. The lead changed often throughout the race, with Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Pro Team leading until she crashed on Beatrice on the first lap. Gould regained the top spot, however, and suddenly Pendrel was back in the first three along with team mates Gould and Katerina Nash (USA) Luna Pro Team.
By the end of lap two, the World Cup leader Julie Bresset (Fra) BH-Suntour-Peisey Vallandry had moved herself into contention and she and Pendrel separated themselves from their chasers. Then it was Pendrel at the front on her own, trying desperately to gain time. Meanwhile Prémont was moving up, along with Emily Batty (Can) Subaru-Trek.
In the end, Bresset was unable to regain contact with Pendrel as the young Frenchwoman had crashed more than once in her chasing frenzy. In fact, she was so rattled, Irina Kalentieva (Rus) Topeak-Ergon was able to hunt her down and claim second place, 58s behind the victorious Pendrel while Bresset had to settle for third, losing nearly a minute to the Russian. Nash took fourth, with Prémont on the podium in fifth and Batty logging an impressive seventh. Bresset continues to lead the series and Pendrel has moved into third, with Prémont third.
In the four-lap U23 women’s race, which started two minutes after the elite women’s race, Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Fra) Lapierre International took the lead from the gun and led from start to finish, passing a large chunk of the elite field as she went. Kathrin Stirnemann (Sui) Central Haibike Pro Team came from behind to claim second, while Elisabeth Sveum (Nor) Team Merida Smart Safety finished third. The top Canadian finisher was Mikaela Kofman (Can) 3 Rox Racing in seventh, followed by Rebecca Beaumont (Can) Team Canada and Andreanne Pichette (Can) Team Canada in ninth and 10th, respectively.
The six-lap elite men’s race took place during the hottest part of the day, starting at 2:30 pm. Burry Stander (RSA) Specialized led the pack off the start, but soon into the first lap Jaroslav Kulhavy (Cze) Specialized had taken off on his own to begin his long solo cruise to victory. The big Czech seemed to be very relaxed as he set a pace no one else could match. Geoff Kabush (Can) Maxxis-Rocky Mountain, who normally does well on the technical trails of MSA, had a strong start, making it into the singletrack amongst the top 10. Nino Schurter (Sui) Scott-Swisspower embedded himself into second place, but he continued to lose time to the leader, although he was able to extend his gap on a solid chase group, including Manuel Fumic (Ger) Cannondale Factory Racing, Florian Vogel (Swi) Scott-Swisspower, Martin Gujan (Swi), and Stander.
As Kulhavy and Schurter had virtually cemented their positions, the battle for bronze raged. Eventually it was a hard-charging Jose Antonio Hermida (Spa) Multivan-Merida, who was wearing the rainbow stripes he earned at MSA last year, that put the moves on the main chase group and claimed third place, just ahead of Mathias Flückiger (Swi) Trek World Racing. Vogel claimed fifth and Kabush logged an impressive seventh-place finish. Adam Morka (Can) Trek Canada was the next-best Canuck in 41st after Derek Zandstra (Can) 3 Rox Racing suffered a flat tire and a broken chain to finish one lap down.
The U23 men were first on course on Saturday. As predicted, it was Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Ita) TX Active Bianchi who took the victory with a 1.5-minute buffer over second place, Fabien Canal (Fra) GT Skoda Chamonix. Switzerland’s Matthias Stirnemann (Sui) Thoemus Racing Team took the third podium spot. Top Canuck was Leandre Bouchard (Can) Team Canada in 10th.
The eight-rider junior women’s field was dominated by Canadian riders with Lauren Rosser (Can) Team Canada, Andreane Lanthier-Nadeau (Can), and Frederique Trudel (Can) Team Canada finishing 1-2-3, respectively.
In the junior men’s race, Andri Frischknecht (Sui) Scott-Swisspower lived up to his name, taking the win by a mere 16s over second place, Costa Rica’s Andrey Fonseca (CRc) Costa Rican National Team. Alexandre Vialle (Can) Team Canada was the best Canadian, finishing in the third medal position.