The World Champs: Appetizers
By: Colin Meagher
The world of mountain biking boils down to meat, potatoes, and gravy. But appetizers are always welcome. So far in this year’s World Champs, we’re had a few appetizers, and a bit of gravy; the meat and potatoes get served up during Saturday’s XC Elite XC and Sunday’s Elite DH races. But to tide you over, there’s been a healthy serving of Junior and U23 XC action, and some bar banging 4X action.
Junior XC races: Not much to mention, really. The next crop is coming up; hopefully not too many will get seduced to the dark side (road racing). The new Junior World XC Champs are Pauline Ferrand Prevot and Michiel Van Der Heijden (although with Prevot, the seduction has already occurred—she’s the reigning World Junior Road Cycling champ, too). U23 saw Alexandra Engon and Mathias Flueckiger claim victory. In Women’s Observed Trails—evidently that still exists—Gemma Abant Condal once again crushed the competition (evidently the Spaniard has been killing it for a number of years).
The 4X competition could be considered the gravy of this World Champs, and it was served up steaming hot.
Women’s 4X saw Caroline Buchanan take a second title in as many years. She pretty much steamrolled the competition. Anneke Beerten was looking good until the rock garden, when Luana Maria De Souza Oliveira of Brazil crushed the inside (and gnarly!!!) line on a downhill bike in round one and effectively closed out Beerten and eventual third place winner, Romana Labounkova of the Czech Republic.
In the men, all eyes were on Jared Graves, and as he cruised through the rounds, he was clearly the strongest rider. But not the smartest. For some reason, as he approached the final corner, Graves took the inside line over the rocks. The slow line. Thomas Slavik was not going to miss snatching that low hanging fruit; the Czech rider swarmed the outside line and took the win.
Next up, Elite XC racing.
Not content to rest on their laurels, Lapierre Bicycles debuted a new Sam Blenkinsop DH bike, complete with rigid forks and side-pull brakes. Schweeeeet!
So far-''X'' fingers-Earl has been nothing more than a few taco'd tents and a just enough rain to damp down the moondust coating the trails. This broken support from the Devinci Cycles tent was about the worst of it.
Wheel repairs are part of the deal here at Mont-Sainte-Anne.
Can't you read? No diving...shallow pool, after all.
SRAM officially launched their 'Descendant' DH crankset here at Sainte-Anne.
The festivities featured a ''Legends of Mountain Biking'' race, featuring Myles Rockwell, getting sideways with the wagon wheels.
Thick fog wasn't enough to slow down Emmeline Ragot; the Frenchwoman sliced the track up just as fast as if it was sunny and clear.
Rachel Atherton is looking decidedly fast.
MS-Evil's Lewis Buchanan is also looking to smash the track up, but will face stiff competition in the form of Neko Mullaly.
Bradley Benedict representing Bravo Condoms in fine form as he snakes his way through the berms before diving into the trees lining the mid section of the track.
Robin Wallner putting some extra cranking action in as well as some gratuitous roosting as he flies out of a tight berm.
Mathias Flueckiger dominated. Even a flat near the end of lap two did little to face the slight Swiss rider.
Jack Hinkens chalked getting pulled with a lap remaining as incentive to train this coming winter.
Russel Finsterwald getting positively CRAZY out there on the XC track.
An emotional Martin Whiteley of Trek World Racing celebrates the U23 win by Flueckiger.
Female Trials podium.
''WTF?'' covers this scene quite nicely.
Not everyone was into racing today after getting an eyeful of the pumptrack at the base of Mont-Sainte-Anne.
Final check on Graves' 4X bike by a exacting Damion Smith.
4X racing action under the lights. The perfect setting for a cheers and beers.
Timing is everything at a UCI event.
Roger Rinderknecht showing the aggressive form that earned him a spot in the Final of the 4X racing today.
The local crowd had enough beer in them to have some serious double vision out on the track..
Women's big final with Buchanan in the drivers seat.
Katy Curd celebrating her 3rd pace win and the end of her first year of 4X racing with a fifth place overall.