A classic in the World Cup calendar.. The Mont Saint Anne track has been a rider favourite for many years. Now in the 23rd consecutive year holding the UCI World Cup Downhill the course has developed and evolved to match new riders and technologies but giving the same great challenge.
A "home" race for Junior Finn Iles a chance for redemption for Loris Vergier who went off track after showing great pace at the last round in Lenzerheide. However MSA would be the focus "comeback" with all eyes on current World Champion Loic Bruni who came back to racing after 4months off due to a shoulder injury sustained in training.
The early track walk gave riders a great perspective on what was set to be one of the fastest courses of the year... With some classic corners removed we would see riders hitting close to 80kph down the rock strewn straights.
Practise came with an unusually dry track, humid conditions and a serious dry spell meant the course was running fast and loose from the outset. Early practise giving riders the opportunity to dial in their setups for battle in qualifying and race day.
Great qualifying for Specialized gravity as all riders stepped up to battle with the physical and long MSA track. 1st for Finn Iles, 6th for Loris Vergier while Loic was back in 90th position after a puncture near the top of the course.
Overnight rain before race day threatened to disrupt the status quo however it was too little to make a big impact to track conditions. While the juniors in practise had a tacky course to ride, the track again dried and got loose for race runs.
Tight racing for Finn Iles who had a mostly clean run but finished 0.031 down on young French rider Gaetan Vige... Still Finn maintains his lead in the junior category and will head into the finals in Andorra with confidence.
Loris Vergier was in the final 6 riders to take the track with an amazingly aggressive first corner taking green on the first split. Sadly Loris would suffer a rear punture that put him out of the running, eventually finishing way down in 80th.
Mont Sainte Anne 2016 will forever be remembered as the comeback for Loic Bruni... After four months off the downhill bike and away from the racing scene, Loic stepped right back up to speed with an impressive run putting him into the Hot Seat for most of the afternoon. In the end Loic finished 3rd to blistering runs from rivals Danny Hart and Aaron Gwin.
Loic had this to say after his race run;
"When you have time this injured, two months to yourself, you imagine all kinds of scenarios for coming back... good, bad... you know everything and the one thing you hope for is being able to come back to where you belong. I feel like I belong in the top five or top three, so I am super stoked to do it - Loic Bruni - Specialized Gravity Republic"
We're super proud of the Specialized Gravity team and are looking forward to the final round of the World Cup season followed by the World Championships in Val Di Sole where Loic will have to defend his rainbow stripes.
Photo's - Dave trumpore