Julien Absalon and Catharine Pendrel win in the XC
A fourth consecutive win for Julien Absalon, who won the fifth round of the Nissan UCI MTB XC World Cup which took place at the weekend in Mont Sainte Anne, Canada. Newly crowned Canadian national champion Catharine Pendrel took a popular win in the women’s race.
Absalon’s lead in the overall standings over Burry Stander is now up to an almost insurmountable 480 points, while women’s leader Marga Fullana has lost ground to Pendrel and three others after a relatively poor 22nd place showing.
The rain rolled in for the start of the women’s four lap race, making the already difficult course even more slippery and causing a number of crashes on the main descent. Pendrel took over the lead and immediately began to open a gap on Nash and Kalentieva, as her technical skills allowed her to carve through the tight, muddy wooded sections of the course. Nash and Kalentieva swapped second and third positions through the middle portion of the race, before former world champion Kalentieva was able to gain a few seconds in the final lap to claim silver.
1st Catharine Pendrel
2nd Irina Kalentieva
3rd Katerina Nash
The rain had eased by the start of the men’s six lap race, although it had minimal effect on the muddy sections. Ralph Naef got off to his usual fast start, with Canadian champion Geoff Kabush leading the chase. Absalon and World Cup first round winner Jose Hermida were both caught in traffic in the first lap, but steadily made their way up through the field to the leaders.
Absalon was the first to join Kabush, on the second lap, and quickly moved up to replace Näf at the front of the race. A lap later, Kabush had caught Näf, but had, in turn, been caught by Hermida. The four leading positions had been determined by the halfway mark in the race, with Stander making a late charge to secure the fifth and final podium spot.
“I was concerned at the start of the race,” Absalon said. “Through the first two turns I didn’t have a good position, and I had to work my way up on the first lap. Näf was very strong at the start, but then he started to drop back and I was able to take the lead. It was a very technical track, but I like that, so to win here under these conditions is very satisfying. I am excited that the World Championships will be here next year.”
1st Julien Absalon
2nd José Antonio Hermida Ramos
3rd Geoff Kabush
Sabrina Jonnier and Sam Hill win in the DH
In a day of changing weather conditions, Sabrina Jonnier and Sam Hill claimed the wins on a difficult course made even more challenging by the variable amounts of moisture on track.
The first rider to lay down a fast run was Tracy Moseley who was almost immediately displaced by Emmeline Ragot, with a strong time that was good enough to maintain the Hot Seat until only Jonnier remained to descend.
Jonnier was the class of the field though, and her run of 5:26.50 beat Ragot by 3.79 seconds. “That run was the best of the weekend. Conditions were a lot different than this morning. It dried out a lot. I decided to be a bit cautious and then go fast when I could. I just want to win and be happy on my bike.” Jonnier’s win was her fifth consecutive of the season.
Moseley finished in third place, 4.77 seconds back. With her win here, Jonnier stretches her lead in the World Cup standings to 1382 points, with Emmeline Ragot a distant second with 1115 points. Four of the top five riders are now French, with only Moseley, in third, breaking the streak.
1st Sabrina Jonnier
2nd Emmeline Ragot
3rd Tracy Moseley
Last down the hill in the men’s race was Gee Atherton, Steve Peat and Sam Hill. Peat clocked a time of 4:41.48 to take the Hot Seat, but didn’t really settle in. All eyes were glued to the big screen TV and the scoreboard, which was showing the splits on the course. Hill was the fastest through every split, showing incredible control skills through the rock gardens. To huge applause he finished in 4:38.44, 3.04 seconds better than Peat.
Hill was pleased with his win, the first of the season for him after an uncharacteristically long drought. “This is one of the high speed, and the longest courses, on the World Cup circuit. It was a lot slicker this morning. It dried out a lot. I was conservative in the first few corners just to check it out. It was good so I went hard from there.”
For Steve Peat it was his 50th World Cup podium appearance, and also holds the record for the most World Cup career wins. “I think this course suits me. You’ve got to be an all a rounder to do well here. I’ve got another podium which I’m pleased about.”
Sam Hill moves from 3rd to 1st in the World Cup Points race with 1039, a mere 4 points in front of Peat. Minnaar drops from 1st to 3rd.
1st Sam Hill
2nd Steve Peat
3rd Aaron Holmes Gwin
4th Gee Atherton
8th Brendan Fairclough
The next XC round is at Bromont, Canada on 1-2 August. Round eight of the DH/4X is 19-20 September at Schladming, Austria.