Laurence Crossman-Emms sets the scene for us at the fourth round of the World Cup in Mont Sainte Anne.
And the familiar Golden letters leading you to the lift station, but unfortunately the lift didn't open until midday, so a chilled out morning for most riders with a rather heated track walk to follow.
Raising out of the base station and into the hills, the big red bubbles take you up and over Mont Ste with endless views over Fleuve Saint-Laurent, the main estuary running through Quebec city.
At most tracks you have to walk from the lift to the top of the track, but here it's right off the lift and into the iconic start gates. Thanks to the famous MSA roll in you don't have to put much pedalling in out of the start either, it spits you out into the first flat out wide section. With the news of quite a few track modifications, it was interesting to get stuck in and find out whats cracking!
Flat out through the top section, into the first section of trees and back out onto the other side where more flat out motorway track awaits. "Hope they haven't made it all like!"
Fresh is one word to put it. The new track modifications are, lets say, young and with what looks like no riding time to bed it in and the super hot sun beaming down, it will be interesting to see if much of the trail holds come practice.
Getting into town and staring up the hillside you can see the big red gondolas streaming up over the hill. The sun is shining here today and boy is it warm, but with forecast rain for practice day, it could turn messy!
Mid way down and out of the trees, flat out, you come swinging into two big hips. With slight lip and landing adjustments to freshen them up, the jumps are looking similar to how they've been in recent years.
More wide, smooth and flat out sections. The track here has taken more of the 'Bike Park' influence, with most of the trail being buffed out and filled in. A shame to some veteran riders to see a classic track 'worked on' but there have been some excited looks from younger loose cannons!
Lush green scenery around here in MSA, the Canadian countryside looking stunning and it feels good to get out in the mountains again.
Big changes into the finishing line. Over the classic bridge jump and into an all new drop to step down and across the line. Cutting out the tight 4X section from a few years ago this new section should be testing for a few riders.
Remains of trail digging tools on the side of the track is another indication of how fresh some of these sections are. The mid wooded section, although looking impressive and fun to ride, has seen a lot of changes and most of the technical aspects of the trail have been taken out. New, big bike park berms have been added and rock gardens have been covered with dirt. It almost seems they have toned down the whole track. You could almost ride this trail on a trail bike! Let's hope it roughs up a bit during practice.
Expect fans to be packed around this finishing line, one of the more exciting ends to a race, and expect some shapes to be going off over here.
Mont Sainte Anne as a town is quite small with a few hotels, bars and a golf course to its name. Cycling in MSA is a pretty big deal, with plenty of riders coming from far afield to ride. Riders even come down just to ride the pump track at the bottom of the hill.
The big wooden arches welcome you into Mont Sainte Anne for the fourth round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. Another double hitting round with DH and XC and the first round to be held out of Europe. It sure is looking to be an exciting one.
Hot out here in the midday sunshine. Why not take a break and sit down in the party area this weekend.
With most UK and European based teams packing light this World Cup the pit area is looking rather bare. A few teams are all set up and working on bikes already, but some teams don't even have bikes yet!
Danny Hart will be looking to make his result count this round. Falling back to 20th place overall, he should be up there playing with the top numbers! Giant pits all set up and the boys already have the bikes looking tip top!
Prepared for some muddy conditions here, MSA have shipped in rows of bicycle showers to clean you off once you get down this potential mud fest of a track!
With the luxuries of jet washers and trucks at home in the UK, teams are having to go back to basics with a bucket and sponge!
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This track is definitely one of the classics, but have the changes ruined it? As the last round in Vallnord highlighted what we all want is tougher tracks, not easier, but sadly from what we've seen so far it looks like this classic track has turned into a bike park track. Hopefully practice will knock the smoothness out of it, and we'll still be in for another incredible race. Will anybody be able to knock Gee off the top spot again? Or will he return to his 2013 winning ways? Can anybody finally beat Rach? Will Sam Hill build on his Andorran result? Who knows, only time will tell...