UCI World cup, Mont Sainte Anne, Canada, June 23-24
Mont Sainte Anne has always been the pinnacle of downhill racing on the UCI World Cup circuit. The history that is attached to this place is almost legendry. The riders come and go, but the mountain remains. The way things have been going lately on the World Cup tour, you just can never tell who is going to win one. There has been a World Cup race here every year since 1993 (excluding the world championships in 1998).
DIRT ISSUE 66 – AUGUST 2007
Words by John Lawlor
1993 John Tomac
1994 Jurgen Beneke
1995 Frank Roman
1996 Tomi Misser
1997 Corrado Herin
1998 (World Championships) Nico Vouilloz
1999 Steve Peat
2000 Fabien Barel
2001 Chris Kovarik
2002 Steve Peat
2003 Steve Peat
2004 Steve Peat
2005 Fabien Barel
2006 Chris Kovarik
But I’m sure that as the 2007 World Cup rolled into town all of these facts and figures are the last things on the riders’ minds (excluding twice winner Chris Kovarik who was turned around at the border and refused entry into the country). This leaves three previous winners racing in this round. Steve Peat, Fabien Barel and Jurgen Beneke. Champery must still be fresh in the minds of the top dogs, and of course Sam Hill’s final run, while he did not win, but riding in the pouring rain and still managing to take third spot. Surely Mont Sainte Anne will not deal the same conditions as Champery…surely not. Most people will have noticed that the weather has begun to form a pattern here also, the same way it did in Switzerland. Clouding over mid afternoon. Surely rain tactics must be on the minds of more than a few riders? After Champery, some riders will have labelled Sam a freak show for being able to ride so well in the wet. Others will have put it down to the timing of his run, and that the rain had a chance to soak into the track by the time he came down the hill. But the truth of it is that when Sam wants to win, he can win, and nothing can stop him when he is in this mindset. Period.THURSDAY
Most people are rolling down today and finding their way. Three hours practice and still three days till race day. Line choice seeming to be the most important part of the day. Very few people are pinned except for Peaty who is doing sections for the New World Collective film crew who are in town. The course seems to be tamed down from last year. The signature forest section near the top has been bermed up making it roll a lot smoother. I’m sure a lot of riders will beg to differ on this one.
The hire car is f–ked. Donuts. Doughnuts. Whatever way you spell it, the result is still the same. Tyres…tyres are worn, power steering it hanging. Funny shit, but nerve wrecking knowing that a company has your credit card number and have the authorisation to take as much money as they see fit in order to fix their piece of shit car. It says ‘zero responsibility’ on our rental agreement…but I’m not so sure.FRIDAY
There’s a lot more happening today. The course seemed to come alive with riders. The flow of the course is beginning to show and it’s a fast one. Mick Hannah is taking it easy after hurting his back during yesterdays practice and only does one run. There seem to be a few fast lines forming in the forest sections. Marc Beaumont looks quick. Sam Hill does too and it would seem these corners will suit his style, as they are all bermed up. Having said that, there is a section that can be gapped, that has a pretty tight run in and a very short (if any) take off. On this section alone about half a second can be made up on the normal line. Ben Reid takes it and makes it look so easy.
Three of the five previous winners have been well built, heavy riders, but I have the feeling that a younger lighter rider is going to take the win this year. The nature of the hill requires a lot of bull power, but some of the new sections suit the smaller rider.