The Nissan UCI World Cup circus headed across Canada this weekend, pitching its pointy tents and trailers of lions* in Bromont for a XC/DH/4X triple-header. The preceding week had seen bursts of rain, with the XC racing taking place in properly grim conditions that made the rocky and rooty course even more challenging. It didn’t slow Lene Byberg (Specialized Factory Racing) down, though, with the Norwegian scoring her first World Cup win ahead of Irina Kalentieva (Topeak Ergon) and Catharine Pendrel (Luna). Her win puts Byberg 25 points clear at the top of the series leaderboard, but it’s pretty close up there – with just two rounds to go, any of the top five could take it.
There was another first-time winner in the men’s race, with Canadian national champion Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) making his long-awaited way to the top step of the podium. The race length was cut by a lap in view of the conditions, with Ralph Näf (Multivan Merida) and series leader Julien Absalon (Orbea) setting the early pace. Kabush passed a slowing Näf on the second lap and caught Absalon, but was denied a proper head-to-head race when the Frenchman’s chain snapped. Kabush extended his lead over the rest of the field, ultimately crossing the line a minute and a half ahead of second-placed Jose Hermida (Multivan Merida). Näf finished third.
Despite Absalon’s chain snappage (and resultant 17th place finish) his lead in the series remains a healthy (and borderline unassailable) 412 points. The next round for the XC racers is Champery, Switzerland in September.
While the XC races saw new winners, there were no such surprises in the downhil with Sabrina Jonnier (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) and Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) atop the podiums for the sixth and third times this season respectively. Jonnier didn’t look too good in qualifying, with only the fifth-fastest time to her name, but come the finals it was business as usual – she was the only rider in the women’s race to come in under three minutes, two and a half seconds clear of second-placed Floriane Pugin. With just Schladming to go, Jonnier is now unbeatable in the women’s series.
It’s still all to play for in the men’s World Cup, though. Series leader Sam Hill was third in Bromont, keeping him in the lead overall. But Minnaar’s win closed the gap, with just 16 points separating them. Fabien Barel was second but out of reach of the series podium, while Steve Peat’s only 53 points behind Minnaar.
The final DH round is at Schladming, Austria in September, but before that the racers will meet for the World Championships showdown in Canberra, Australia.
* What do you mean, it’s not a real circus? Bah.