Sabrina Joonier wins, again.



Coming into round six of the 2009 UCI DH World Cup in Mont St. Anne, Quebec, Maxxis-Rocky Mountain team rider Sabrina Jonnier had already won four of the five prior events. Although she had a solid lead on the World Cup series overall, there was still an immense amount of pressure on her to pull out another win.


The women's field had 20 starters. Through the first 10 racers, there was rapid and frequent turnover in the hot seat. The first rider to hang on to the hot seat for a bit was Emilie Siegenthaler (Scott 11). Siegenthaler was eventually dislodged by Melissa Buhl, who was clearly stoked by her run. "It was pretty good. I struggled a bit in the mud but I kept it together. I was going back and forth between the mud and the dry tires and I was glad I stuck to the dry. There were a couple of spots of mud where I would have like spikes, but it paid off in the rocks because they were pretty slippery."


After Buhl was Canadian Champion Claire Buchar (Chain Reaction Cycles/Intense). Buchar was having a good run, but unfortunately crashed on the lower part of the course. She was very disappointed with herself. "It happened in the last section of woods. I was having such a good run up until then. Everything was going good and I was giving it all I had. I don't know what happened. It happened so quickly. I went over that same rock every single time and this time my front wheel went out. I lost a whole bunch of time. I'm really disappointed because I wanted to do well this weekend. That's racing." Buchar finished in 13th place, 30.02 seconds back.

The next rider to lay down a fast run was Emmeline Ragot (Suspension Center) at 5:30.29, which was good enough to maintain the Hot Seat until only Jonnier remained to descend. Jonnier was the class of the field, with the big TV screen at the finish showing her great control. Her run was 5:26.50, beating Ragot by 3.79 seconds. "That run was the best of the weekend. Conditions were a lot different than this morning. It dried out a lot. I decided to be a bit cautious and then go fast when I could. I just want to win and be happy on my bike."  Jonnier's win was her fifth consecutive of the season.


Tracy Moseley (Trek World Racing) finished in 3rd place, 4.77 seconds back. Top Canadian was Micayla Gatto in 11th at 26.80 seconds, Danice Uyesugi in 15th at 31.69 and Rebecca McQueen in 17th at 34.36.


With her win here, Jonnier stretches her lead in the World Cup standings to 1382 points, with Emmeline Ragot a distant second with 1115 points. 4 of the top 5 are now French riders, with only Moseley, in 3rd, breaking the streak.




2009 has been an up and down season for Maxxis-Rocky Mountain's Geoff Kabush with early season success followed by travel induced fatigue, but most recently a big win at Canadian National Championships. In 2008 Kabush placed second at the Mont St. Anne World Cup in a somewhat depleted field due to many riders skipping the event for Olympic preparations. The 2009 field was stacked with all the big names of the sport, many of whom were scoping the course for next year's World Championships.


A large men's field of 104 riders took the line for a total of 6 laps.  The off and on rain that had plagued the women had fortunately stopped by the time the men started. The clouds remained low all afternoon and it looked like the heavens would open at any moment but they never did, much to the relief of the riders. However, it did remain windy and cool for the duration, and the track was still wet from the morning's downpour.

Without a start loop, the whole key for many was to try and get to the front from the gun. The start was done at very high speed by the field. Ralph Näf (Multivan Merida Biking Team) took the early lead, followed at 15 seconds by Martin Gujan (Cannondale Factory Racing) at the front of a large chase group.

At the end of lap one, Näf was still holding the lead with Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain Bicycles) in second at 32 seconds and Absalon 41 seconds back in third. Just behind Absalon was a small group with Gujan, Nino Schurter (Scott-Swisspower) and José Hermida (Multivan Merida).

By the second lap, Absalon had become comfortable with the conditions and had caught and passed Kabush. He continued to gain time on the lead as Näf started to tire. Meanwhile, Hermida was slowly reeling in the leaders. By lap three, Näf had only one second on Absalon, with Kabush at 20 seconds and about to be caught by Hermida. It didn't take long for Absalon to take the lead and once he was at the front he started to open a gap on the chasers. Meanwhile, Näf continued to go backward, dropping to fourth by the end of the lap.

Absalon cruised in with a winning time of 2:06:05, 32 seconds up on Hermida and 2:48 up on Kabush. A tired Näf had a enough left in the tank to retain fourth, 4:50 back. Stander claimed fifth (and the U23 win) 5:42 behind.  Raphael Gagne (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) was the fifth-placed U23, in 33rd overall.

Two years ago Hermida also placed second to Absalon, with Kabush also third. Last year it was Absalon winning, with Kabush in second. Clearly this venue favours Absalon, Hermida and Kabush.

Kabush was pleased by his result. His season hasn't been up the standards he has set in recent years. "I have a history of doing really well here. I started on the third row so I was really focused on the start. I got a really good start and I was climbing really well. This is a course that really suits me. The World Cup has been up and down this year and I'm happy to have a good result for my team. It's been a while. It felt good to be back in the action. Being back in North America has been good for me. I feel grounded again. I'm 100% healthy now."

In the World Cup Points Series, Absalon has 480 point lead over second place Stander. Hermida jumps to third from sixth with his placing here, while Kabush jumps 10 spots to 14th.