Even a night of thunderstorms and pouring rain couldn't put a damper on the first day of training here in Mont-Sainte-Anne. The bone-dry soil sucked up all the moisture as fast as it could fall, and what riders found when they arrived in the start gate was the fastest and roughest track of the year. And while riders were able to handle the speed without issue, it would be the unrelenting beating from the rocks that would cause the biggest headaches through the day. Flat tires, broken wheels, snapped cranks, and battered bodies were a regular occurrence, with some riders not able to make even a single clean run without a mechanical issue.In timed runs we saw most of the usual suspects out front and a mix of wheel sizes, though it's hard not to notice the three Syndicate riders stacked together in the top 5. Aaron Gwin never showed his hand, and Troy Brosnan suffered a puncture in his run, so we never got to see where they stack up against the fastest time of Loic Bruni. As per usual, Finn Iles is the front runner amounts the junior men, with the only real surprise of the day coming from the women's field in the form of Marine Cabirou. She would go one spot better than Rachel Atherton to land at the top of the result sheet ahead of some heavy hitters. Series leader Myriam Nicole would come 4th and her closest rival in points, Tracey Hannah, would suffer mechanicals and not post a time.With rain and thunderstorms in the forecast all week, it's not a matter of if it will rain, but rather when. And when that time comes things are going to get messy in a hurry.
After a night of heavy rain, riders headed up into the unknown.
Let the good times roll...
Canadian National Champion Miranda Miller rolls into the start gate to kick off training in MSA
Henry Fitzgerald was one of the first riders on track today.
Even after all the rain overnight, the track became a dust bowl by mid-afternoon.
Chappy Fiene tuning in Deanos Machineos' gears at the IFR pit.
Paul Miles and Dave Garland getting Gutierrez and Jackson's Glorys ready for a long day of brutality.
On the podium in 2015, can Colombia's fastest get back on the box and edge further up the ranks?
Number five in the series... you know it!
Jack Moir trying to avoid the big rocks here in MSA
Marc Beaumont squashes the hip jump halfway down the track.
Canadian ripper, Vaea Verbeeck, continues her upward curve on the circuit. 3rd in the TT.
Laurie Greenland has the ferocity to teach this track a lesson and keep a phenomenal season rolling.
Charlie Harrison airing out the armpits on a sweltering day on the mountain.
US star in the making, Charlie Harrison, came into form nicely for Switzerland and will look to go hard again here north of the border.
Mark Wallace has cemented himself as a mainstay top performer, expect him to attack this course like some kind of angry wasp from tomorrow on...
World Cup series leader Greg Minnaar sends in into the fastest part of the track.
Looking smooth and aggressive, Loic Bruni would end the day with the fastest time in training.
Finn Iles was the fastest of the junior men.
Tahnee Seagrave prepares to drop in.
Seagrave testing out the grip in the top corners after a night of heavy rain.
Groundskeeper Greg looking mean on his shiny silver new 29er machine.
Eddie Masters hasn't been overwhelmed with good luck this season, but loves a bit of MSA savagery.
Aaron Gwin gave absolutely nothing away cruising to 48th in the TT, but did take more laps than usual...
2017 has been a year Gee will want to forget for the most part, but almost back to full strength after his hip injury, he's capable of just about anything on this track.
Still on the road back to full strength, Rachel Atherton gets her tight back and shoulders seen to after first laps on the hill this morning.
2nd fastest on the day for Rachel Atherton on one of the longest and hardest tracks of the year.
Benoit Coulanges is a man you can count on for that perfect style.
Marine Cabirou came out swinging and claimed the top spot today for TT.
Brendan Fairclough smashed all the rocks in MSA to grab a top 10 time in training.
Gwin may have taken a cruiser during timed training, but his pace was definitely on point earlier in the day.
Once again Loris Vergier shows he is in the mix.
Mechanicals during timed training for Tracey Hannah means her pace is still an unknown going into tomorrow's qualifiers.
Sam Blenkinsop was one of a host of riders who had a long look at some of the rock gardens that seem to have grown in size this year.
Like many many many riders on track today, Tahnee suffered a puncture during her first run in timed training. Luckily she got it sorted in the pits quickly and was able to get a second lap in to finish the day 5th.
The number 2 plate and Troy Brosnan kept his cards close to his chest today, not putting in a full lap when the clock was running.
The Canyon Train boosts out of the woods and onto the fastest section of any WC track we have seen this year.
Danny Hart smashing rocks though the top woods.
Unbelievable to think the season's end is already approaching and it will soon be time for the gold medalists to defend their stripes.
Loic and Miranda check some clips after a spill for the Canadian champ during the morning session.
Another big result is surely coming for the young wildman Laurie Greenland, could it be on the boulder strewn madness on the mountain here or in the dust of Val di Sole?
The threat of thunderstorms has been in the air all day here in Mont-Sainte-Anne, and the forecast calls for a few more downpours through race day.