The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup circuit’s oldest track served up yet another classic in Mont Sainte-Anne. In the 27th running of the iconic round at one of the most brutal tracks on earth Great Britain’s Tahnée Seagrave and America’s Aaron Gwin came out on top. There is a saying amongst the mechanics of the UCI World Cup pits; the only one thing you can be certain of is that it will rain in Mont Sainte-Anne.
A dump of rain the night before race day resulted in a slightly slicker mixed bag of conditions and drizzle was in the air when the world’s fastest women set off. Seagrave started from fourth and the splits just kept turning green with her time of 4:46.723 more than ample to take up the hot seat.
Her rivals pushed as hard as they could but Tracey Hannah’s hopes ended with a rear flat tyre and reigning champion Rachel Atherton had to demonstrate all of her remarkable bike handling skills to stay on track after a rock dislodged itself and nearly pitched her off. All eyes were now on the series leader and winner of the previous two UCI World Cup races, Myriam Nicole, but she was hampered by her refusal to take on the huge final drop which had saw her badly injure her ankle in 2016 and despite a quick run, she had to settle for second, six seconds behind Seagrave who landed her second victory of the season. Seagrave said: “It feels so much better for me (than the last one). It feels like a more deserved one than Leogang as everyone was a bit battered from Fort William and Rachel wasn’t competing. It doesn’t feel real yet.” As the drizzle continued Australia’s Dean Lucas slotted home a superb, virtually flawless run to set the bar for the men. It then started to rain, heavily.
As the heavens heaved down their watery deluge Lucas looked to be on course for a fairytale maiden victory. His teammate Jack Moir came close but ultimately couldn’t beat his 4:19.484 time. When Gwin rolled out of the start hut, the gathered held their breath, could he do the seemingly impossible? Gwin has a mercurial streak in him; every now and again he’s capable of a run that redefines what should be possible on two wheels. This race run was to be one such feat.
At the first split he was two tenths up, by the last it was a whole second. Having qualified first, Gwin would leave Canada with maximum points to trail Greg Minnaar in the overall title race by just 41 points. He said: “It wasn’t perfect, it started really good at the top, but I got water in my goggles and I couldn’t see for a while and I thought that was it. “I got some pace going again, messed up in the rocks, I made a lot of mistakes but I knew I had a lot of time in me. I was just hoping I was going to be better in those conditions than everybody else.”
The series moves to the grand finale in Val di Sole, Italy on August 26-27.
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