Canada Cup #1 2011, Mont-Tremblant 26 mai
This photo is a courtesy of Mark Bunyan Training www.markbunyan.ca ;)
Here we are: 2011 race season! Once again, the first stop of the Canada cup is in sunny Mont Tremblant. Now that's something we can't say often, the sunny part that is. It remains, unfortunately, one of the most demanding tracks on the circuit in Canada. I say unfortunately because it is so early in the season. I've heard many east coast riders manifest their desire to race this track later on the Canada Cup schedule, once a little more riding has been done… but I guess it throws us right back into it!
We were blessed with the first “good weather” weekend of the year in Tremblant. One big cloud poured its misery on us at the end of the day on Saturday, but luckily it was at the end of practice. Riders ran and huddled up under the closest pit tent possible as the thundershower struck without warning.
To access the race track we had to hitch a ride in the gondolas, which is not the ideal way up since it they drop us off at the top of Tremblant while the starting gate is ¾ down the hill on a different summit… Inconveniently enough, the gondolas broke down Friday. Some racers were stuck in their tiny gondola for over an hour and a half. So we were forced to take the chair lift that goes directly to the start of the race track. Now you would think that's a good thing, but don't get excited to quickly because those lifts are used for the “dry luges” or whatever those unsafe-wobbly-deathtrap-motorless go-carts are called. So getting to the top was ever so long. Only one rider per chair, every four chairs, with the engine stopping every 5 minutes for god knows what reason. It sounds like a lot of complaining, I know, but in the end it translates into less runs on the track and a huge waiting time. Tremblant, at least for us Quebecers, is a race where you want to get as many runs in as possible to try and dial the bike in and remember how to bicycle down a mountain, let alone send it during a race run!
The track itself is not a Canadian favorite. It's the absence of flow coupled with the long pedaling sections in open ski trails and not to forget the slightly uphill rock gardens (sigh) that make it both so technical and physical. These factors thrust the well trained and power house racers to the top of the results list while less prepared and less trained riders drop down that same list. I guess you could say it separates the hungry from the rest of the pack.
The course drops just over 1200 feet or 375 meters. The track has remained the same for the last 13 years with a few very minor changes. Such changes included gravel in one of the soggy open stretches, a wooden bridge over one of the streams and a hip jump/bump right on the corner of the last stretch to slow down racers charging towards the end of their 4 minutes of suffering. The finish line jump that was modified in 2010 was again modified to avoid major cases of over-clearing in like in ‘09.
The first section stays true to itself year after year. It presents riders with many line choices that have you guessing where to go even though you've been studying and racing this section for years. Nothing seems to feel good on the way down, getting tossed from one side to another, struggling for that moment that gives you confidence in the first 30 seconds of the race. Tough luck ‘cause there no such thing in these first woods! Hold on to your lock-ons and plow down as fast as you can. When you hit that wooden bridge at the bottom, breath then pedal. A slight uphill on to the ski trail, two slippery berms (especially the second one) and it's time to focus on what's coming up in the next technical section while you're maxed out on your gears and tucking in as much as you can to avoid feeling like an 86' Volvo on the highway.
At the finish line, the crowd was good and lively. Many booths were setup and many curious bystanders wandered over to join the true fans. A sunny race does help with the attendance numbers.
Our rider, Yann Gauvin, managed to make his way on to the podium with a 3rd place, just 2 seconds off the winning time. What's impressive about this result is that he is one of the 5 Quebecers to make in the top 20. There is a simple explanation for this “East coast rider” scarceness in the standings of the first round of the Canada cup; East coast riders start their season with the Tremblant race on the 2nd or 3rd weekend on their bikes since the off season. So to make it on the 3rd step of the podium on your twelfth run of the season, I raise my hat in respect and awe!
Franck Kirscher, one of our top riders, wasn't able to pull off his usual star performance, being distracted by the emotionally charged memory of he recently stolen team bike (and Franck can get pretty emotional, sot steer clear). Yhea, I know, who would steel a fully custom bike from a race team… Franck rode the team mechanic's Makulu (thanks JP) while we scramble to get all the parts together to build him a new race machine asap. I guess you can all imagine how much it sucks to have a team bike stolen one week before the season opening race. So guys (and gals), please keep an eye out for a Lama team makulu and/or any bike part that would make you say “hey, that looks just like the Lama Team's whatever part” ! It probably is. Just a quick note to let you know there is nice
A special thanks goes out to all our sponsors who believe in us and our project. We can't be a top Canadian team without your support, so thank you!
Andrew Mitchell (Can)
Dean Tennant (Can)
Yann Gauvin (Can)
Matthew Beer (Can)
Rob Fraser (Can)
Jeffery Bryson (Can)
Chris Del Bosco (Can)
Kyle Sangers* (Can)
Remi Gauvin* (Can)
team pivot cycles
In addition to Lama Cycles distribution co. and Morewood Bikes, the Lama Cycles team is sponsored by Industry Nine, Kali Protectives, Straitline Components, Formula Brakes, Nema International, Maxxis Tires, Five Ten, ODI, SDG, Manitou, Spy Optic, SkiBromont.com, Finish Line, Sport Beans, OGIO, THULE, Camp of Champion and NSK.