Saturday, May 9, 2009

Round Deux --- La Bresse, France

So first off, where the hell is La Bresse? I had to look that one up, and it turns out it is east of Dijon, near the German border. Not quite Strasbourg, but headed in that direction. I wonder how the riders got there? Anyway, on to the qualifier race...A large field of 195 starters were fighting for one of 80 spots in the finals, and after a long day of riding the top three were Steve Peat, Gee Atherton, and Mick Hannah.

Race day brought out huge crowds, particularly along the lower, rocky section of the course. I managed to get up and actually watch the last seven riders on Freecaster. The usual suspects did well, but a few sleepers such as Kyle Straight (USA/Specialized), Brendan Fairclough (Great Britain/Specialized), Sam Blenkinsop (NZ/Yeti-Fox Racing), Aaron Gwin (USA/Yeti-Fox Racing), Steve Smith (Canada/MS Evil Cycles) and Julian Camellini (France/Chain Reaction-Intense Cycles) managed to crack the top 15. The entire MS Evil Cycles team managed to crack the top 30 (Steve Smith 15th, Matti Lehikoinen 19th, and Filip Polc 30th).

The highlight of the day was watching Steve Peat crush it at the end, under all the pressure of being the last rider on the course. He was clearly pushing the limit as he appeared to be sliding/drifting in lots of sections on the course. The best part of his ride was his victory celebration which included high fiving the entire fan section surrounding the finish line, followed by a full sprint power slide on his knee pads. Its no wonder that Peaty is the most beloved MTB rider in the world.

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