The Canadian stop of the Rockyroads UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano at Mont-Ste-Anne, Quebec, concluded on Sunday with the ever-popular Downhill. Two riders confirmed their dominance by each taking their third wins in four rounds of racing, with Rachel Atherton (GT Factory) winning the women’s competition, while Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing) took the men’s.
After raining heavily during the afternoon races at the Cross-country World Cup the previous day, the clouds moved on and the Gravity event was blessed with blue skies and hot sun. Sections in the woods were still wet and slippery, but most of the track had dried by the time the riders began their runs.
Aaron Gwin began his World Cup career at Mont-Ste-Anne, and has a soft spot for the course, calling it one of his favourites. The defending champion on the course, he continues to be unstoppable, with three straight wins in the four rounds this season. In fact, with his five wins last year, he has racked up an incredible eight wins in 11 worlds over the past two seasons.
The top three qualifiers each took over the lead as they hit the finish line. First was world champion Danny Hart (Giant Factory), who knocked countryman Gee Atherton off the Hot Seat. Moments later, South Africa’s Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) – the only rider to beat Gwin this year in a World Cup – was eight-tenths of a second faster. However, Minnaar didn’t even get a chance to enjoy the lead, as Gwin came through the first time check 2.5 seconds faster. The American champion had lost a little bit of time by the second split, but still crossed the line 1.3 seconds ahead of his rival.
“It’s always special to win a World Cup but this venue holds a special place in my heart,” agreed Gwin. “The pressure was on today, as I knew Greg would step it up and he’s had his fair share of success over the years here. The course has some sections which feel almost designed for me, I love them, and I know if I hadn’t made those two small errors in the lower half of the course I would have scored a better time, but hey, I’ll take it!”
Gwin now has 900 points, 235 more than Minnaar, with Atherton a further 125 points in arrears.
Canada’s Micayla Gatto set the first sub-five minute time, which would be good enough for fifth. World Cup leader Emmeline Ragot (MS Mondraker) and Myriam Nicole (Commencal/Riding Addiction) both knocked a few seconds off, but Atherton, the fastest qualifier, easily surpassed them, finishing nearly two seconds ahead of Nicole.
Ragot still leads the World Cup standings with 740 points to Atherton’s 700, since the British rider did not attend the opening round.
“This is the first race in a long time where I really feel I attacked the course,” commented Atherton. “It is so long and rough that it is one of the hardest, but the spectators kept cheering, so I kept pushing. It is the first time I have been in the zone for quite a while.”