World Championships: Mont-Sainte-Anne Preview

By: Colin Meagher

Hot, humid, and dusty as all hell; that’s the conditions found on the hill here at Mont-Sainte-Anne. Most unusual. But the bugs are still out in force in the woods. Some things never change here.

World Champs. It is a madhouse of activity. Trying to see everything here is like juggling flaming chainsaws. It isn’t just the meat and potatoes of racing—Downhill, 4X, and Elite XC racing, but also Trials, U23 XC races, Junior races, Junior DH racing…you get the picture.

So the meat and potatoes: Elite XC, elite DH, and 4X.

XC racing. The track has undergone a few adjustments to make this a more television and spectator event. Gone are a number of sweet single-track sections; instead they’ve been cut wide enough to accommodate a Mack truck. In addition, the first section of track has been abbreviated, as have some of the lower loops that transitioned riders to the east end of the track. Riders aren’t too put out, though; rather the stoke level is on high—racing at Worlds is a dream come true for many, and a challenge relished by many of the others.

One thing new to the XC track, though, is the dust. It’s been dry here for the past month, and despite the sticky humidity, the track is bone dry and blown out in a number of places. This is atypical for Mont-Sainte-Anne. In fact, a bit of rain would be welcomed by most racers, despite the regular soakings seen by all the racers traveling the World Cup Circuit. That wish is likely to be granted, courtesy of Hurricane Earl, which is even now working its way up the east coast on a track to soak the eastern Canadian provinces.

In 4X, it’s shaping up to be a victory romp for Jared Graves, and an affirmation ride for Caroline Buchanan. One potential obstacle for Graves is Roger Rinderknecht. Roger qualified first today; the only other time he’s done that this season was at Val di Sole, and he won that event. For her part, Buchanan claimed the fastest qualifying time, showing that she not only has a powerful start from her BMX racing, but the handling skills to take on the rock garden.

On the Downhill side of the equation, a timed run was held Thursday for the racers—basically a qualifying race that doesn’t really matter as everyone gets into the race. Which actually makes that race a pressure cooker: there is no quali run for confidence building, rather it’s all or nothing come Sunday. As to that qualifying run, Tracy Moseley and Greg Minnaar held a “how to” clinic on the steep slopes of the Sainte-Anne Massif. Other riders fairing well were Sabrina Jonnier and Emmeline Ragot for the women, and Gee Atherton as well as Aaron Gwin. But as this was just a timed training run, these results don’t really matter at all. Instead, it’s all eyes on the race on Sunday.

Opening ceremonies: The US Worlds team was led by ''Old Booty'' Leigh Donovan and her daughter.

Opening ceremonies: The US Worlds team was led by ''Old Booty'' Leigh Donovan and her daughter.

''The track's rough--I mean really rough--this year.'' Brendan Fairclough.

''The track's rough--I mean really rough--this year.'' Brendan Fairclough.

Worlds means custom paint jobs.

Worlds means custom paint jobs.

And if it's not a custom paint job, it's a custom decal kit.

And if it's not a custom paint job, it's a custom decal kit.

Worlds is also when the next best thing to save weight shows up; in SRAM's BlackBox toolkit, that means carbon cranks. Carbon DH cranks, that is.

Worlds is also when the next best thing to save weight shows up; in SRAM's BlackBox toolkit, that means carbon cranks. Carbon DH cranks, that is.

Kyle Strait's sponsor Pivot went whole hog with a frame damn near too beautiful to race.

Kyle Strait's sponsor Pivot went whole hog with a frame damn near too beautiful to race.

Another thing about Worlds is the desire to save weight; whether it's on a XC race rig or a DH sled, every bit gets weighed before it goes on the bike.

Another thing about Worlds is the desire to save weight; whether it's on a XC race rig or a DH sled, every bit gets weighed before it goes on the bike.

A relaxed Tracy Moseley on her way to the top for a practice run; no union jack kit yet; that will be for racing.

A relaxed Tracy Moseley on her way to the top for a practice run; no Union Jack kit yet; that will be for racing.

It's dry here, and incredibly dusty. The DH Track is covered in a thick layer of moon dust, making quality practice runs difficult.

It's dry here, and incredibly dusty. The DH Track is covered in a thick layer of moon dust, making quality practice runs difficult.

''Yeah, Sven, Gee Atherton's on track and headed right for you.'' Clay Porter sending the word down the track.

''Yeah, Sven, Gee Atherton's on track and headed right for you.'' Clay Porter sending the word down the track.

Jill Kintner is starting to bring it all together on this monster of a track.

Jill Kintner is starting to bring it all together on this monster of a track.

This track is an incredible wheel wrecker. Getting down without a flat is hard, getting down without a completely trashed wheel is next to impossible.

This track is an incredible wheel wrecker. Getting down without a flat is hard, getting down without a completely trashed wheel is next to impossible.

Rocks seem to be a key feature of the track. They are everywhere. Including in the middle of a wooden bridge just below the rock garden.

Rocks seem to be a key feature of the track. They are everywhere. Including in the middle of a wooden bridge just below the rock garden.

And by wheel wrecking, Mt St Anne is in a class by herself. This happened in a single practice run.

And by wheel wrecking, Mont-Sainte-Anne is in a class by herself. This happened in a single practice run.

Brendawg was looking pinned in the high speed upper section.

Brendawg was looking pinned in the high speed upper section.

Not everyone was interested in watching practice. Especially this course marshal, deep in a game of bridge. He was still keeping the whistle at the ready, though.

Not everyone was interested in watching practice. Especially this course marshal, deep in a game of bridge. He was still keeping the whistle at the ready, though.

Aaron Gwin found the one tacky section of track and got all of it with his Schwalbe tires.

Aaron Gwin found the one tacky section of track and got all of it with his Schwalbe tires.

Sam Hill was more interested in roosting through that bit of tacky goodness than trying to lay a Specialized tread over Gwin's track.

Sam Hill was more interested in roosting through that bit of tacky goodness than trying to lay a Specialized tread over Gwin's track.

Jared Graves drive train for 4X: still only 4 gears, but now it's 4 brand new XTR gears.

Jared Graves drive train for 4X: still only 4 gears, but now it's 4 brand new XTR gears.

The ''Unit'', Caroline Buchanan, was sporting a bit of skid mark from not keeping it clean in the rock garden on the 4X track. ''It's hard right there; I keep buzzing my bum on the tire trying to dance through it.''

The ''Unit'', Caroline Buchanan, was sporting a bit of skid mark from not keeping it clean in the rock garden on the 4X track. ''It's hard right there; I keep buzzing my bum on the tire trying to dance through it.''

UCI Technical delegate Chris Ball showing the distance he moved the exit gate on the rock garden in order to slow down the track and set up a better turn for the next section.

UCI Technical delegate Chris Ball showing the distance he moved the exit gate on the rock garden in order to slow down the track and set up a better turn for the next section.

Finding the only large rock hidden in the moondust coating the track can have consequences.

Finding the only large rock hidden in the moondust coating the track can have consequences.

Joost Wichman practices slamming the door during practice with the inside-outside move in turn two.

Joost Wichman practices slamming the door during practice with the inside-outside move in turn two.

4X? Whatever!  Claudio Calori of Team Scott at play in the pump track--flip flops included.

4X? Whatever! Claudio Caluori of Team Scott at play in the pump track--flip flops included.

.

Related Posts:

The Connect

Instagrams - @bikemag