August 11, 2013 (Mont-Ste-Anne, QC) – The cross-country races were held on Saturday at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Mont-Sainte-Anne, near Québec City, an event that attracted the top mountain bike riders in the world including World Champions and World Cup leaders alike.
Elite Womemn – Pendrel 8th
On a very windy day, Catharine Pendrel, the 2011 World Champion and winner of the 2012 World Cup in Mont-Sainte-Anne, made her comeback race to the World Cup today, after nursing a broken collarbone earlier this spring. The four-time Canadian Champion finished the race in eighth place as the top Canadian of the action-packed race.
“I’m pleased that I got around the course and felt pretty normal. I never want to get eighth, I always want to finish on the podium. I thought that was a possibility here, but I didn’t know,” said Pendrel after the race. “I went into this race a little unsure of myself today and not my usual ‘I think I’m going to be on the podium’…. This race was a good opener for me [coming back from injury], and felt very efficient and consistent out there.”
The race for the top was a tight one, and intensified with less than two laps to go. Current World Champion and Olympic Champion Julie Bresset (Fra) BH Suntour took the control of the race for the first four laps, but slowly the short gap was bridged by Maja Wloszczowska (Pol) Giant Pro Xc Team, Katerina Nash (Luna) of Czech Republic and World Cup leader Tanja Zakelj (Slo) Unior Tools Team.
On the last lap, Wloszczowska joined Bresset as the race leaders in the final battle. But midway into the last lap, the top 4 riders merged together. On the last steep climb, Nash attacked Wloszczowska out of the group and gained a significant lead, and eventually rode to her career first World Cup victory. Wloszczowska took the second followed by Zaklej in third as Bresset faded.
Emily Batty of Brooklin, ON (Trek Factory Racing), the top Canadian in the World Cup rankings, placed tenth, while Canada Cup leader Sandra Walter of Coquitlam, BC (Liv/Giant) rode to a 16th-place finish, tying her career-best result at a World Cup.
“It’s actually a little bit surprising,” commented Walter of her season, which saw her climb on the second step of the podium at the 2013 Canadian Championships. “I came off a really good season last year, so I was hoping to build off that. I was injured at a critical time early this season. I had a knee injury and missed a lot of training. I guess sometimes it’s a blessing in the sky, and I needed the rest to come out very strong, winning all three Canada Cup races so far this season.”
Both Pendrel and Walter confirmed their presences at the finals of the Canada MTB Cup Series, in Whistler this upcoming week. Walter will be defending her title from 2012, and is currently leading the elite women’s category.
The 4-kilometer course was slightly modified compared to previous years at Mont-Sainte-Anne, due to the expansion at the resort and saw the elimination of the well-known Beatrice rock garden. The MSA venue remains the longest running and one of the most popular stops on the World Cup tour. It has been staging races since 1991 when the MTB World Cup series began.
Elite Men- Plaxton Lead Canadian Men in 9th
Max Plaxton of Victoria, BC riding for Sho-Air Cannondale was the top Canadian in the elite men cross-country race at the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Mont-Sainte-Anne on Saturday, taking the ninth place despite fighting a severe cold all week.
The race was between a small group of riders that included World Champions, Olympic Champions and World Cup champions, notably Julien Absalon (Fra) BMC, Nino Schurter (Sui) Scott Swisspower, Andrej Cink (Cze) Multivan Merida, José Antonio Hermida Ramos (Esp) Multivan Merida Biking Team and Italy’s Marco Aurelio Fontana (Cannondale Factory Racing).
Early on, Absalon and Schurter created a small gap of 50 seconds but on the third lap, Schurter suffered from an untimely flat, forcing him to lose more than a minute, leaving Absalon as the sole race leader. A group of five riders stayed within a minute of Absalon midway into the race, but the Frenchman was on fire and continued to increase his lead, showing a gap of 1:26 on Schurter and Hermida after his fifth lap. But this was Absalon’s day as he went on to win his first World Cup race of the season after 1:28:17 of racing, more than one minute faster than his next competitor. Having suffered mechanicals earlier this season that kept him off the podium the multi-decorated rider was relieved at the finish. “I finally did it,” said the winner post race.
In the last lap, Schurter and Hermida distanced themselves from a group of eight racers to set the battle for second place. In the final sections of the race, Hermida, the 2010 World Champion from Mont-Saint-Anne, attacked and created a gap to take second, while Schurter crossed the line in third place. Schurter who leads the overall standings will have to wait until the next round in Norway to claim the title again.
Plaxton crossed the finish line in ninth spot among some of the biggest name of the sport, 2:28 after the winning time set by Absalon.
“It was an exciting race. At first, with the shorter course, I was a little disappointed, but it made for some interesting racing. There was a lot of shuffling around, and with that one main climb, it was really tough to get positions,” said Plaxton, still catching his breath from the intensity of racing. “I had a good start, and just moved my way up. I feel like I could have fought for a Top 5, but I made a few mistakes, and had a crash near the end which kind of disrupted my momentum.”
Plaxton chose to ride on a dual-suspension bike. “The bike was flawless. I surprised that a lot of guys thought this was a hardtail course, but I went for the dually here, and it was phenomenal. The course was quite rough and the dually was great.”
Plaxton was not sure if he’d be on form today as he fought a severe cold all week. “It was a tough week, to be honest. We had a good weekend last week in Vermont. We had a late night, celebrating the end of the domestic season… I fortunately came around at the ideal time.”
Canada’s Geoff Kabush of Courtenay, BC (SCOTT-3 Rox Racing) finished 15th.
U23 Women – Trudel Top Canadian
In the women’s U23 race, Frédérique Trudel of Breakeyville, QC was the top Canadian in seventh spot of the 5-lap race. Trudel, who is coming off a hot streak of domestic victories winning the Canada Games and the U23 Canadian MtB Championships race, completed the course in 1:28:10, just ahead of teammate Andréane Lanthier-Nadeau in ninth, who won the Eliminator race at the Canada Games.
“I really would have liked to finish in the top 5 today,” admitted Trudel who was cheered on by all her family and friends. “I’m still happy with the seventh. It’s been a demanding week with all the events at the Canada Games. My plan was to attack in the long climb, and then keep a good pace. Today the course was super dry, and the wind made it really difficult,” she continued.
“Today I was less fit than at the Canadian Championships and the Canada Games. At one point, all these races get to you, and you can’t really control your form. With the rest over the next few weeks, I’ll be ready for the World Championships.”
Australia’s Rebecca Henderson took the U23 victory, finishing with a time of 1:21:09 over of Sweden’s Jenny Rissveds in second with Helen Grobert of Germany in third.
U23 Men – Caron Surges to 11th Place Finish
Antoine Caron of Stoneham, QC surged in the last lap, and sprinted to the finish line to take the eleventh place in the Espoirs (u23) six-lap 24.6km race at Mont-Saint-Anne.
Early on the race became a battle of four riders, Julien Schelb and Markus Schulte-Luenzum of Germany, Reto Indergand of Switzerland and Anton Cooper of New Zealand. The four riders had a significant lead on the main group from the start, and rode together for three of the six laps.
Ultimately, it was Anton Cooper who took the victory, leaving Schelb in second with Indergand in third.
The U23 Canadian Champion Mitch Bailey flirted with the top 10 all race, and finally finished 12th, just behind Caron. With two laps to go, only 26 seconds separated the riders from fifth to tenth place, where Bailey was sitting.
Junior Women – Pageau Earns First Career Podium
Canadian junior champion Rachel Pageau of Chicoutimi, QC rode to third place in the junior wome’s race completing the four laps with a time of 1:01:05, securing her career-first podium on the World Cup Tour.
American junior champ, Kate Courtney, took the first place crossing the finish line with a time of 1:03:06, followed by Ukrainian Dina Gordiuk. Courtney attacked on the first lap and never looked back, slowly increasing her lead throughout the race.
“It’s really exciting to get that first podium, especially since last year I had missed the podium by just one second,” said Pageau, the leader of the junior women Canada Cup Series heading into the series final at Whistler next week. “It’s really a beautiful course in Mont-Saint-Anne, but I’m a little disappointed they removed the Beatrice section. Still, it is a beautiful course that I like.”
Pageau is having a great season so far, having won the title at the Canadian Championships and leading the Canada Cup series with two wins in three races. “My season is going really well so far. I reached all my goals so far. It’s almost a perfect season, so I’m very happy.”
Junior Men – Peter Disera Breaks Though to Victory as Fortier Sprints to Third
A month after winning the Canadian Junior title on his home track at Hardwood Ski and Bike, Peter Disera of Barrie, ON continued to showcase strength in mountain bike, winning his career-first UCI World Cup in the junior men’s race.
Disera attacked from the outset of the race, establishing an impressive 42-second lead on the first lap. Throughout the five-lap race, he was able to increase his lead each lap on the 20-rider group, and crossed the finish line with a time of 1:09;03 with an impressive 2:19 gap on his closest rival, Lucas Newcomb of the United States. In the gallop for third, Canadian rider Marc-André Fortier of Victoriaville, QC sprinted to the finish line to land on the final podium.
“Wow….,” said Disera. “I knew this would have been a tough race. I didn’t think winning would be feasible. Right at the start, I got 10 feet on the group and never looked back the rest of the way. I never realized I had a two-minute lead. I had 40 seconds in the first lap, and I thought that was significant. I just wanted play it safe, to keep it smooth. I knew it was important for me to stay calm and keep my head clear.”
Fortier, who finished eleventh at his first ever World Race earlier this season in Germany, raced to a career-first podium at a World Cup race. “It’s amazing… for only my third race ever at a World Cup. It was not even in my goals early in the race. My start was not that fast, but I progressed throughout the race. On the last lap, I rode together with the rider in third place. He dropped me on the climb, then he slowed down towards the end, and I picked him off at the line. This third place means I finish my season on a very high note.”
The Canadian National Team wore the brand new team kit designed by Louis Garneau Sports at MSA for the first time at a mountain bike event.
The downhill races will be held Sunday. Reigning Canadian Champion Steve Smith of Cassidy, BC (Devinci Global Racing) qualified with the fastest time in Friday’s qualifying run and will be going for his career second victory on the World cup tour. In 2010, Smith won the silver medal at the World Championships at Mont-Sainte-Anne.
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