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© Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

Lessons Learned in Mont-Sainte-Anne

Since 1991, the inaugural season of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, the best riders in the world have made the pilgrimage to the magnificent Eastern-Canadian mecca of mountain biking on the banks of the St. Lawrence River to battle each other and the mountain’s long, fast, hard, and tricky tracks. The 2017 edition delivered another instant classic with brutal weather conditions that had fans witnessing one of the best wet race runs in downhill history and there were some serious implications for the last stop of the season at Val di Sole on the 26th/27th of August. 

We saw the save of the century (joke’s on you, that’s only 17 years)

Rachel Atherton proved once again that she’s on another level when it comes to riding and bike mastery. Although she’s still clawing her way back to the top (winning the British Nationals show she’s still got it), her ride down a very sketchy Mont-Sainte Anne resulted in a 5th place finish and what we’re calling the save of the season, if not the century. A crash in the rocky section could have very well been a carreer-ender right there, so we’re very glad she rode it out. If you want to see it, check it out below. The full run is pretty gnarly, but if you want to see the save, head to the 03:15 mark!

Shoutout to the women shredders!

Tahnée Seagrave (GBR) absolutely smashed the course in Mont-Sainte-Anne taking her 2nd win of the 2017 season (Leogang was her first) and besting current World Cup leader and French National Champion Myriam Nicole by well over 5 seconds. Australian Tracey Hannah delivered an extremely gutsy ride to finish third. But get this – she rode into 3rd with a flat tire and almost went down on the last jump, narrowly avoiding a face full of dirt and a sizeable drop.

With Nicole now only 110 points ahead of Hannah and 146 points ahead of Seagrave in the overall standings, it all comes down to Val di Sole, the last World Cup stop of the season…

Wetter is better?

Where Lourdes both literally and figuratively fell into the water and cost basically every single Top 30 rider some serious points, Mont-Sainte-Anne was a different story, even though for a while it looked like it might turn into a repeat of the very first race of the 2017 season.

It’s exactly these conditions that put Intense’s Dean Lucas into the Hot Seat for well into the Top 30. All fairness to him, he put down a lightning-fast run, but would have been blitzed by the Top 30 had it stayed dry. But for now, and for most of the race, he was in the Hot (or Wet) Seat.

© Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool
© Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

That is until Shark Attack Jack (Jack Moir for the regular folk out there) popped out of the gate. Intense teammate Dean Lucas had been in the hot seat for what seemed like forever at this stage and Jack rode down the mountain like a man possessed – ignoring lack of visibility, soaked restaurant terrace flooring and basically gliding over the ruts that steadily filled up with more water. It ultimately resulted in a finish that was only two seconds behind Dean Lucas – an incredible performance taking into account that the rain in Lourdes slowed the top riders down by well over a minute.

Like a ripple across a still lake, news of Moir’s incredible feat travelled up the mountain and reached the start gate, where Troy Brosnan (AUS), Loic Bruni (FRA) and Danny Hart (GBR) were all still waiting. Moir’s run clearly forced a change of attitude (and apparently ball size), because we were treated to a series of runs that were out of this world. Troy Brosnan was extremely close to taking home the top spot, but a few skids here and there cost him some valuable seconds.

Dean’s hot seat position wasn’t so safe anymore, especially considering whom was still waiting for his start time.

© Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool
© Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

The American pushed out of the gate and put on a legendary show for the ages in the brutally wet and muddy conditions, flipflopping between green and red splits all the way down the course. Riding on another level, taking risks and inside-lines not seen all day, he crossed the line with a thunderous roar from the fans. His balls-to-the-wall run ultimately resulted in him gaining a one second advantage over Lucas in what will be a run for the ages.

Meanwhile the leader in the overall standings, Greg Minnaar (RSA), had a nightmare of a day that ended with disqualification after a crash (he is however appealing this decision, and the 8 points he would have received because of his finish would be a huge fain).

American thunderbolt Aaron Gwin now only trails Minnaar by 31 points, while Brosnan’s 6th place moved him within 77 points of the lead, setting up for an epic battle for the overall World Cup title at the season’s final stop in Val di Sole, Italy.

Will the lessons learned in MSA pay off for VdS? Find out by following all the action on Red Bull TV