Aaron Gwin has won his third World Cup race of the season taking victory in Mont Sainte Anne. Out the gate Gwin went fastest straight away, and while he lost time in the rock garden in the middle of the long, demanding course, he still crossed the line nearly a second and a half up on Minnaar’s time.
Mick Hannah was having a great race run and looked to be making a return to the form we saw at the start of the season in Pitermaritzburg, up at the first two splits and fastest through the speed trap, but a snapped chain stole his chances of a podium spot. Still, Hannah crossed the line just a few hundredths of a second back from current hot seat occupier Thibaut Ruffin. Brendan Fairclough was also having a greta race, squashing the jumps and skipping over the rocks but suffered the same misfortune of a lost chain.
This was Neko Mulally’s first World Cup race with the American Flag on his sleeve having been belatedly awarded the title USA National Champion title. Having decided not to race at Fort William and to instead rest his injured ankle, Mulally was hoping for another solid top 20 result. But Mulally’s front wheel slid out on the take off to the hip jump and he took a heavy slam and looked to have been knocked out. After treatment on site by medical staff, he walked away without any broken bones, and is suffering from a mild concussion. He will be under observation for the next 48hrs but is expected to make a speedy recovery. Mulally wasn’t the only victim on this punishing course. Matti Lehikoinen had a big crash in the rock garden that left him with a seperated shoulder.
Gee Atherton knows only too well how hard the ground is here in Mont Sainte Anne. A huge crash in practice left many people questioning if Gee would be able to ride in qualifying, let alone how he managed to ride so fast. Gee obviously hadn’t let the crash phase him and was back to race speed, finishing fourth and earning his spot on the podium.
Brook MacDonald had been looking fast all through practice and after qualifying fourth had been tipped by many to make his return to the podium. Brook was up at the first split and wrestled his way through the rock gardens, but lost time and had to settle for sixth place, just 0.3 seconds back from Sam Hill.
Danny Hart only has one riding style; wild, and that’s exactly how he made his way down the mountain, cutting in to every berm and getting loose on every jump. It’s only got to be a matter of time before Hart wins his first World Cup, but he should be more than happy with a third place.
Greg Minnaar’s c riding couldn’t be more different to Hart’s if he tried. He just looks so clean and calculated. Minnaar is also a more powerful rider than Hart, and was able to put that power down and go up on the second split, carrying the speed down and finishing in second place.
In the last 11 World Cup races there have only been two winners; Greg and Gwin. With Greg already in the finish pit Gwin was on his way down to claim his eight victory, thus extending his lead in the overall standings by 135 points. Speaking about his win in Mont Sainte Anne, the track he debuted on in 2008, Gwin said: “It feels amazing! I kind of made some mistakes towards the end, but the rest of the run was good enough. This track is hard from the top to the bottom, you really have to work for it!”
Elite Men’s Top Five
1 Aaron Gwin 4:14.022
2 Greg Minnaar 4:15.329
3 Danny Hart 4:16.162
4 Gee Atherton 4:17.082
5 Sam Hill 4:17.631
Full results can be found here.
Racing continues in Windham next weekend where no doubt Gwin will be looking for another victory on home soil.