World Cup cross-country, downhill and four-cross come together in Quebec, Canada today and over the weekend for the first time since the opening round at Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, in April.
The cross-country, on Saturday, always draws huge crowds due to the presence of local favorite Marie-Hélène Prémont (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain), who seems to find extra strength on her hometown course. The Mont Sainte Anne venue has hosted a World Cup or world championships every year since 1991.
Prémont, meanwhile, will be looking for her first win of the year, but she will have a tough battle against World Cup leader Julie Bresset (BH-Suntour-Peisey Vallandry), who is almost unbeatable this season. Canadian Champion Catharine Pendrel (Luna Pro Team) is another rider who has done well on the Mont Sainte Anne circuit in the past.
The men’s cross-country will be missing current World Cup leader Julien Absalon (Orbea). Absalon said after round three in Offenburg, Germany, which he won for the fifth consecutive time, that he would skip the North American rounds to focus on preparations for his attempt to win a fifth world title.
Absalon’s absence will give his rivals the opportunity to battle for the World Cup leader’s jersey. Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized Racing) and defending World Cup champion Nino Schurter (Scott-Swisspower) are the two strongest contenders.
But the action begins today with round four of the four-cross competition. Jared Graves (Yeti Fox Shox) holds a 50 point lead in the men’s standings over David Graf (Switzerland). But that could soon change in the rough and tumble action of this event. On the women’s side, Anneke Beerten (Milka Trek) has a more secure 120 point lead over Switzerland’s Lucia Oetjen.
The weekend concludes with the downhill, and Mont-Sainte-Anne is one of the longest and toughest courses on the circuit. The Trek World Racing duo of Tracy Moseley and Aaron Gwin have proven to be the most consistent riders this season, leading the women’s and men’s standings coming into this fourth round. Moseley leads the young French rider Floriane Pugin (Scott 11) by a commanding 90 points in the women’s series, while Gwin regained the men’s lead in round three from his main rival, Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate). However, Gwin’s lead is a narrow 46 points, so this competition is far from over.
After Mont Sainte Anne, downhill and cross-country racers will head south for the World Cup stop at Windham, New York on July 9-10.