After an evening of heavy downpours after Thursday practice, in qualifying the course here promised to be even more unforgiving than the previous day. However, although things were messy first thing in the morning, the track soon shaped up and dried out and the legend was back to its very best. Prime dirt.
Juniors kicked off with a battle that saw a fresh face come out on top. Round 4 winner Laurie Greenland had struggled in practice – well, more to the point he’d struggled to do any practice as the team’s bikes didn’t show up until lunchtime. Perhaps confidence bolstered by a fast timed training run the Trek rider attacked only to crash out and finish fourth. Next in order comes Alex Marin-Trillo. The Giant Factory Racing junior has been there or thereabouts all season, and he once again showed his speed and race craft with another top three. Andrew Crimmins has been flat out all season, but the Aussie pushed it too hard at the last race and it ended in injury. Here he rolled it into second place.
The four at the top of the junior overall in this season’s World Cup has more or less remained the same, and MSA has proved no different. This time it was our own Jacob Dickson, representing the Orange Dirt World Team, who would come out on top to a well-deserved quali win. The Irish lad has been threatening the top step all season and perhaps his time to shine is here in Canada.
With the start of the women’s racing the skies above began to take on somewhat more of a threatening appearance, but it seemed little to take note of. If there were to be bad weather it would come later in the day, we thought. Rachel Atherton led out the pack and rode home to a solid time that would put her well ahead of the rest but close of play. Seemingly Atherton’s only threat this year comes from Emmeline Ragot, but the wild woman’s intense riding and speed simply couldn’t match Rachel’s prowess this time. She slotted into second place, which left a fast and hungry-for-it looking Manon Carpenter the one available position in the top three. Atherton and Ragot are simply in a class of their own in 2015.
And then it happened. Minutes before the start of men’s qualifying a storm leapt on the mountain out of nowhere, a surprise attack that no one could have seen coming.
Aaron Gwin sat in the start gate in a sheer deluge, watching on as the course flooded. The American could do nothing but attack. Alas, gamble and you can be put on your arse. He went down hard in the first metres of track, snapping his crankarm in the process – something not even Gwin can ride to the foot of the hill – and he was left to push back to the start in the pouring rain. Things got very wet very fast, but also unpredictable in grip levels. In places the dirt was perfection, in others a complete ice rink. Loic Bruni was the first to be on the attack, but the Frenchman crashed out at warp speed in the open mid sector and tangled in the tapes. Others nursed it down the track – fast and almightily impressive to watch, but nothing on what the qualifying winner would throw down. Troy Brosnan went out of the start like a man possessed – his teammate’s troubles seemingly unnoticed – and rode full throttle top to bottom, a defining ride that could turn the Australian’s season around. First place. Just that little confidence boost and who knows where it could take him. Danny Hart and Marcelo Gutierrez took the next two spots and both very well deserving of a big result. Sometimes it’s better to be the hunter than the hunted.
Brosnan swiftly left the finish arena fist clenched in celebration and pumped on adrenaline to go and reflect on an inspired ride.
MSA Qualification Results
MSA Photo Gallery – Practice
MSA Photo Gallery – Track Walk
WynTV Track Walk