- Bike Checks
One of the oldest tracks on the World Cup circuit and still a favorite, Mont Sainte Anne saw the riders take to the hills for qualifying action today. Despite the organizer's best efforts to smooth out many sections of the iconic track, a bit of wet weather and a few hundred hungry racers made short work of the freshly groomed surfaces - we're back to the good old flat-out, watch-out-for-the-sniper-rocks-and-braking-holes course that everybody knows and loves. Stevie Smith (Devinci Global Racing) threw down a stormer to qualify fastest by 1 second, and Rachel Atherton (GT Factory Racing) restored order by qualifying fastest among the women, although the top-3 times are much tighter this week. Innes Graham took top honors in the Junior Men's class, ahead of Luca Shaw.
Stevie Smith was second on course and his 4:05.183 would never be touched. Danny Hart (Giant Factory Racing) came closest, 1.097 seconds off the pace at 4:06.280. Sam Blenkinsop (Lapierre Gravity Republic) qualified third with a 4:07.828, marking his return to top form (it's been on the cards this season). Last year's World Cup overall winner, Aaron Gwin (Specialized Racing) continues his steady improvement with a solid 4th, 2.7 seconds off the pace, followed closely by Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) in 5th and Sam Hill (Team CRC Nukeproof) in 6th. Season-dominating Gee Atherton (GT Factory Racing) had a disappointing qualifier, crashing and finishing 10 seconds off the pace barely cracking the top 20. Also noteworthy, Brook MacDonald (Trek World Racing) came down 5.8 seconds off the pace in 11th, hopefully a sign that he has started to move past the shoulder injury that bothered him at the last race in Andorra.