Friday morning here at Mont Sainte Anne dawned bright and clear with hardly a cloud in the sky, it promised to be a good day out on the mountainside. Since yesterday’s practice was cut short the athletes were keen to punch out as many runs as possible this morning, the gondola was running full steam yet the track itself had taken a few too many hits.
Almost everyone said the track had become difficult to the point of being scary with massive bomb holes opening up, jagged rocks being exposed and long mud stretches that don’t appear to be drying out. It’s become a battle for bike and body alike.
Each category had no real surprises with Aussie Kye A’Hern taking the fastest qualifier of the day (with series leader Thibaut Daprela only half a second back) in Junior men and Valentina Holl qualifying 1st in junior women (by over 30 seconds). Paddi Butler also had a great run to qualify 5th!
In the Elite women it was the two UK riders Tahnee Seagrave and Rachel Atherton who ran away with qualifying, our Tracey Hannah was in touch before hugging a tree about halfway down, she still rolled across the line in 4th.
Danny Hart was the fastest down the hill today with a storming 4:20.966 followed closely by Loic Bruni and Amaury Pierron. Our Aussies had a mixed day; Troy Brosnan had a solid run to qualify 6th, Jack Moir is back in the hunt with a 14th place, Dean Lucas rolled into 30th and Graeme Mudd cruised down late in the day to 42nd. Connor Fearon smashed into a rock that destroyed his wheel but is protected so we will see him race tomorrow, he was hovering at about 10th after the first 3 minutes. Unfortunately, Jackson Frew, Darcy Coutts and Connor Clancy had some mishaps in their runs and missed out on the top 60 qualifying spots. Mick Hannah and Jake Newell both opted not to race due to injuries.
Racing tomorrow is shaping up to be an epic, with similar weather conditions to today and a slightly drier (if not more beat up) track every category has a unique story to unfold. Will Kye A’Hern claim his 3rd ever World Cup win and can Valentina Holl dominate the field again and achieve a time worthy of an Elite Podium. Will the British women stay clear or will Tracey Hannah or Myriam Nicole step up? With the absent Aaron Gwin will Danny take his first win with the new team, also remember that if Amaury Pierron beats Loris Vergier he will take the overall title before the final round in La Bresse, France.