This weekend sees World Cup cross county racing move over the pond into Quebec for round five of the UCI World Cup Cross Country series.
After an exciting race at last week’s round four in Vallnord that saw a course not only hugely physically demanding but also full of technical challenges, racers will be braced for what is famously also a test of bike skills as they embrace the Mont Sainte Anne race track.
In the men’s XC, Nino Schurter of Switzerland carries an impressive hatrick of wins from the last three World Cup races in Nove Mesto, Val di Sole and Vallnord, and looks to be unstoppable. We most certainly can’t count out the ridiculous bike skills of Frenchman Julien Absalon though: two podiums so far this season in Nove Mesto and Val di Sole and the BMC rider will be desperate to stamp his mark on this season of racing. Jaroslav Kulhavy is the only other rider to show top-three consistency with his two third place finishes in Albstadt and Val di Sole; will he redeem himself from finishing down the order in Vallnord with a top result? Round one winner Daniel McConnell will of course also be looking to further strengthen his series standing as he sits 280 points behind leader Schurter. It’s all to play for.
In the women’s category, it was a hard battle which resulted in Sabine Spitz back on the top step of the podium in Vallnord – a feeling that the three time Olympic podium finisher must have almost forgotten since she last won a World Cup XC race in 2002. Tanja Zakelj leads the series and has taken two victories already in 2013, so she must surely be set for a strong finish in Quebec, not without a battle from second ranked Eva Lechner and third ranked Katerina Nash though. Emily Batty will also be keen to put in a strong performance on home soil and will be looking for a repeat of her top three performance from Val di Sole.
The Mont Sainte Anne course
“Points de vue spectaculaires!”
The Mont Saint Anne XC course flows through dense forest and incorporates pretty much every element of ‘true’ mountain biking, including rocks, roots, mud and gradient. To win here you must have faultless technical ability and nerves of steel.
To get you in the mood and give you a feeling for the course, check out the 2012 race highlights:
Mont Sainte Anne Cross Country World Cup takes place this Saturday 10th August 2013 with Elite Women starting at 11.30 local time and Elite Men starting at 14.00 local time.
All the action will be broadcast live on RedBull Bike.