Home | News | Dirt | MTB : Everything you need to know about Mont-Sainte-Anne

MTB : Everything you need to know about Mont-Sainte-Anne

Book your space on the sofa and get comfy for one of the biggest mountain bike races of 2018.

This is it, Mont-Sainte-Anne, AKA The Big One. Over the course of its life the Mercedes-Benz UCI World Cup has seen races all over the globe, created two-wheeled heroes and produced some of the most spectacular sport the planet has ever seen. But one thing has remained constant… the terror that is Mont-Sainte-Anne.
The UCI DH MT World Cup course at Mont-Sainte-Anne.
One of the big drawbacks of mountain bike racing is that tracks are always, quite understandably, being tweaked and rejigged which, although great for racing, means that we don’t have any consistent stripes on which to measure one generation against the next. Mont-Sainte-Anne is that course that can be judged over the generations. The track has morphed over the years but it’s a standing monument to severity in both XCO and DH guises.
Cable cars operate at Mont-Sainte-Anne
Add to this the Quebec area’s propensity for, shall we say, ‘dampness’ and you have a recipe for one of the biggest and most entertaining race weekends of the year. 

Where are we?

As mentioned, we’re in sunny (mostly) Quebec on the east coast of Canada. It is the World Cup’s only stop in the Americas this season. Located in the town of Beaupré, the ski resort is 40km or so outside of the city itself. The mountain is part of the Laurentian chain and summits at 800m above sea level.
The Canyon Sainte-Anne waterfall deposits the Sainte-Anne-du-Nord river some 75m below it’s start. Albeit the slightly less geographically interesting yet much-Instagrammed attraction for the racers seems to be the local KCR go kart track.

What are the tracks like?

In short, brutal. The downhill track is one of the great tests of the sport. Some contend that it’s seen more brutal incarnations throughout the years but the modern version is still a horrifically intimidating behemoth of a thing! What makes it so hairy? Well, it’s very, very fast and very, very rough.
if the riders aren’t skimming over premium Canadian dirt in the open then they’re in the woods battling rocks. It makes the most of the hillside by dropping over 600m and there’s a meaty gap drop into the finish arena.
It has a reputation for breaking bikes and there’s an old mechanic’s saying which goes something along the lines of ‘you can be sure of one thing in life; it will rain in Mont-Sainte-Anne’. Rain has affected many of the most recent races here and it can move in and out of the area in minutes.
Crowds gather to watch the DH MTB World Cup in Mont-Sainte-Anne in 2017.

What happened last year?

In the downhill race we saw Tahnée Seagrave take her second-ever UCI World Cup win. She’d won her first one at the previous round in Leogang but somehow winning at Mont-Sainte-Anne was a much louder statement of intent, she’d really arrived. Watch her winning run below:

When you talk about the most impressive wins of Aaron Gwin‘s career, you find yourself spoilt for choice. However, his win in the Quebecan rain was among his very finest. ‘Rain’ is perhaps a misrepresentation of the sheer deluge which engulfed the start hut when he set off.

The hot seat was filled with riders who’d come down earlier in the day in drier conditions, but when Gwin is on the kind of irresistible race run of which only he seems capable, then there’s no stopping him. It was 2s in the green at the third split and 1.058s by the bottom. Watch his winning run below:

Who’s going to win it this year?

In the downhill, Seagrave is going for her third win in a row and definitely has the momentum. Rachel Atherton suffered an out-of-sorts crash in Vallnord and it’ll be interesting to see how she rebounds from that. Myriam Nicole will be back in the mix too, but is openly no big fan of MSA. We expect to see her building back up for an end-of-season run at the Worlds.
Amaury Pierron racing in Vallnord in 2017
The men’s race in the DH is an intriguing one with both Greg Minnaar and Gwin coming back from injuries. The American is still struggling with a hand injury sustained earlier in the year. Minnaar is said to be back on a bike after that arm break, but it’s unlikely that he’ll be swinging for the win in Canada. As always, that leaves the door open for riders like Danny Hart and Troy Brosnan, but a lot of money in this French-speaking part of the world will be on Amaury Pierron, the overall leader.
(Red Bull) Bartek Wolinski and Nathan Hughes images

Leave a Reply

What Drives You?

Be FIRST to recieve the new issue every month & other exclusive content!

You're almost there - please click to confirm your subscription in the email we send you shortly