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Downhill

Bouncing off the limiter

Mont Sainte Anne practice action

“If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough”

Alexandre Fayolle hovering above the MSA turf. Despite all the doubters he’s still battling for a top ten overall finish this year.

Modern bikes mean the pure speeds of Mont Sainte Anne aren’t as intimidating as they once were but the roughness of the freshly exposed rocks are leading to battered bodies and bikes. It’s a four minute pummelling with the only rest coming through the cafe after the first turn. Fitness, skill, courage, machinery – they’re all coming together this weekend to form the perfect test for racers. Plus, there’s a storm brewing.

The first signs that the weather may not stay this peachy all weekend today

Bruni was fastest on the day yesterday but it’s by no means a sealed deal. Hart and Gwin were both faster through certain splits and many riders’ runs were plagued with mechanicals. One glance at the sheets will tell you that the Syndicate, as ever, will be a force to contend with here. A roadblock on the top five, it’s hard to imagine the podium not being graced by a Santa Cruz this weekend. So as we head into qualies it’s as wide open as the riders’ brakes. Plus, there’s a storm brewing.

Can’t argue with that

Marine Cabirou showed a clean pair of heels to put nearly five seconds into the rest of the women’s field. The young Frenchie is coming on fast and it won’t be long before she’s threatening for wins. Rach is continuing her rapid rise back to form and there were great splits from Myriam Nicole and Tahnee. It was Tracey Hannah who was fastest of all until the final split though – a good three seconds clear of everyone else. Plus, there’s a storm brewing.

Hannah famously went down hard on these turns last year. Today she wore a scowl of determination and railed them.

And so we head into qualies. This is where it really starts to count. All the way down the leaderboard, overall points are starting to bunch up so every position counts. It’s going to be wild, it’s going to be tense and it’s gong to shake things up.

Plus, there’s a storm brewing.

Phil Atwill has his plane to Cairns booked, let's hope it goes better than his long haul journey here, the poor lad didn't get in until 3am on practice day.
Clattering through the rocks, you can't mistake the sound of an errant Bulldog
National Champs sleeve retained, now it's time for Matt Walker to push on for more World Cup wins on the proto Saracen 29er
Loris took some spills yesterday but formed part of the Syndicate traffic jam at the top of the sheets yesterday.
It looked like Hart was going to be fastest of the day yesterday until a late swoop from Bruni took it away
Pompon was on it yesterday. Visibly faster than most on a track she's had a rough history with
It's so good to see Rachel charging again. How long before she sets off on another winning streak?
Small woman on a big track but Trace loves it fast and she always does well here. We have her down as one of the favourites to smash it on Saturday.
The first signs that the weather may not stay this peachy all weekend today
Brendog cocking a leg on the new whip
The white is gone for Canyon (probably for the best) as Mark Wallace surveys his home track. He was the fastest Canadian today down in 42nd.
Make no mistake, Gwin is fast here. He won in 2011 and his splits yesterday are telling.
Rolled up sleeves, no gloves, foot out. Doesn't get much cooler than Blenky
Biohazard Brosnan is struggling out there with the roughness of the track, he'l be looking for more today in qualies where it really counts
Sik Mik has been coming here for 15 years but there's no slowing down for the vet.
Business as usual for Flying Finn Iles.
Photogs fave, Kade Edwards - If you build a jump, I will destroy it
Fastest man of the day, Loic Bruni. So great to see him back on top of the pack.
Tahnee gliding over the top rock section

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