UCI MTB World Cup Wrap
BY SANDRA WALTER
Mont-Ste-Anne, Que. celebrated its 27th consecutive year of hosting Union Cycliste Internationale world-class events and featured the penultimate stop on the 2017 XCO and DH World Cup calendar on Aug. 5-6. Canadians used home-turf advantage to its fullest to post season-best results, with junior DH world champion Finnley Iles (CAN, Specialized) bagging the win on a relentless track. Catharine Pendrel (CAN, Clif Pro Team) and Emily Batty (CAN, Trek Factory Racing) landing on the podium in the Elite women’s XCO competition in third and fourth respectively, and U23 men’s rocket, Quinton Disera (CAN, Norco Factory Team), nabbing his first World Cup podium in fourth.
World Cup overall leader Yana Belomoina (UKR, CST Sandd American Eagle) secured her title in the Elite women’s series in MontSte-Anne with still one round to go as she surpassed early attackers Pendrel and eventual second-place finisher Pauline-Prévot (FRA, Canyon-SRAM). Two weeks later, Belomoina had to settle for second in the Val di Sole, Italy finale, but still took home the crystal trophy as the series champion. It was Jolanda Neff (SUI, Kross Racing Team) who won the final race, signaling she was back on form, while the best that Canada’s Pendrel and Batty could manage was 12th and 17th respectively.
Nino Schurter (SUI, Scott-SRAM MTB Racing Team) continued his unbeaten record for the World Cup season when he won the
Elite men’s race at Mont-Ste-Anne, but his competitors didn’t make it easy. Schurter finally attacked decisively on lap five of seven, soloing in for the win. Local hero Raphael Gagné (QC, Cannondale-3Rox) was the top Canadian in 34th. In Val di Sole, Schurter overcame immense pressure to win an historic sixth consecutive World Cup round for a perfect season. Facing challenges from all sides, the Olympic and world champion kept his cool, and escaped on the last lap to put another one in the bag. Gagné was top Canuck again in 54th.
B.C.’s Emily Unterberger (CAN, Independent) made her World Cup debut in the U23 women’s category at Mont-Ste-Anne and landed the best Canadian finish in 17th, while Kate Courtney (USA, Specialized) won by a massive two-and-a-half minutes over second-place Sina Frei (SUI, JB Brunex Felt Team). In Val di Sole, Courtney soloed in for the win again to cement the series’ victory. No Canadians lined up for the race, but Anne-Julie Tremblay (CAN, Cyclone d’Alma) wound up top Canadian in the overall standings in 30th.
Canadian U23 men’s champion Peter Disera (CAN, Norco Factory Team) stormed out of the gate to establish himself with the leaders at Mont-Ste-Anne, but he was unable to maintain the pace and eventually faded to 15th, while Martins Blums (LAT, ZZK) rode to victory. Quinton Disera picked up where his big brother left off to finish a strong fourth. Blums couldn’t repeat in Val di Sole, where he was bested by Nadir Colledani (ITA, Torpado Gabogas), but second place was good enough for the Latvian to take home the World
Cup title. No Canadians contested the final round, and Peter Disera retained the country’s top overall spot in the standings in seventh.
After her teammate and countryman Iles bested the junior men’s field, Miranda Miller (CAN, Specialized) led the Canadian Elite women in the DH with a seventh at Mont-Ste-Anne. Tahnee Seagrave (GBR, Transition Bikes/FMD Factory Racing) won decisively, flying down the track nearly six seconds faster than her closest competitor and series leader Myriam Nicole (FRA, Commencal/Vallnord). Canada’s Vaea Verbeeck (CAN, Rocky Mountain) also made the top 10 in eighth. The competition was fierce in Val di Sole with the title still up for grabs. Despite another win by Seagrave, Nicole managed to hang onto the lead and take the title with a second-place run. Miller once again sped to the best Canadian finish in seventh, wrapping up the season in ninth overall. Canada’s Iles put an exclamation mark on his junior series’ win by also taking victory in the final.
The Elite men’s DH at Mont-Ste-Anne saw chaos literally rain down as the skies opened and unleashed a torrential shower for the final 20 riders, rendering the course absolutely crazy. The freak storm saw Dean Lucas (AUS, Intense Factory Racing DH) – who landed in the hot seat before it started – earn a career-best second-place finish behind eventual winner Aaron Gwin (USA, The YT Mob). The American crushed his run despite the weather. Canadian champion Kirk McDowall (CAN) benefited from a dry run and logged the country’s fastest run of the day in 12th.
Everyone held their breaths going into Val di Sole because the standings were so close, but a flat tire for Greg Minnaar (RSA, Santa Cruz Syndicate) took the heavy favourite out of contention and Gwin rode away with the fastest run of the day and the World Cup title. Canada’s Mark Wallace finished seventh in the final and eighth overall.
Elite women’s XCO podium at MSA (l-r): Batty, Ferrand Prevot, Belomoina, Pendrel, Kalentyeva
Nino Schurter (SUI) wins a historic 6th consecutive UCI World Cup XCO for a perfect season.