Once again, the attention of the mountain bike world turns to Mont-Ste-Anne, Quebec, this weekend, for Round 6 of the Downhill World Cup and Round 5 of the Cross-country World Cup. MSA is one of the legendary stops on the World Cup circuit; the only venue to have participated in the Series every year since it began in 1991 – with the exceptions of 1998 and 2010, when it hosted the world championships instead.
Known for traditional courses incorporating natural terrain, MSA requires riders to have both technical skills and endurance if they hope to do well. The 2.9 kilometre Downhill run is one of the longest in the World Cup, with riders dropping from over 800 metres to 200 metres at the base. The Cross-country circuit is 4.3 kilometres, with constant climbing and descending, slippery roots and technical rock gardens.
In the Downhill, Canada has one World Cup champion already – current Junior world champion Finn Iles (Specialized), who has already wrapped up the Junior title with four wins in five races. On the women’s side, top Canadian contenders are Miranda Miller (Specialized), who recently defended her Canadian title, and Vaea Verbeeck, coming off top-10 finishes in the last two rounds. In the Elite Men, Mark Wallace (Canyon Factory) is having his strongest season to-date, currently sitting sixth overall in the standings and very much in contention for a top-5 overall finish.
In the cross-country, Canada has had considerable success at MSA over the years. Catharine Pendrel (Clif Bar), a four time winner at MSA and the defending champion, struggled in the early season but is showing good form going into the second half of the season. Emily Batty (Trek Factory), the recently crowned Canadian champion, is having one of her strongest seasons ever, with top-10 finishes in the last three World Cups and is currently ranked eighth in the overall standings.
On the men’s side, Peter Disera (Norco Factory) is having a breakout season in the Under-23 category, finishing in the top-10 in all four previous World Cups and currently fourth in the overall rankings. Disera also recently won the Elite men’s title at the national championships. Under-23 national champion Sean Fincham (Forward Racing-Norco) will be another rider to watch in U23. In the Elite Men’s category, Rio Olympian Leandre Bouchard (BH SR Suntour KMC) is the top ranked Canadian on the World Cup circuit, sitting 25th overall.