The entire Canadian downhill team made it through the qualifying round of world championships on Friday. That means all the Canadians in Lenzerheide, Switzerland for 2018 mountain bike world championships will get their chance to contest for medals in Sunday’s finals round.
Elite Men’s Downhill Qualifying – 2018 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
Finn Iles was the top Canadian Elite qualifier in Lenzerheide. The young Whistler racer posted the 14th fastest time in Lenzerheide. Just 0.321 seconds behind was fellow Canuck Mark Wallace in 16th.
Vancouver’s Henry Fitzgerald was the next fastest Canadian in 35th, followed by Canada’s downhill national champion Magnus Manson in 42nd and Forrest Riesco in 45th. Luke Stevens of Revelstoke, B.C. rounds out the squad in 68th going into Sunday’s Finals round.
While qualifying doesn’t always have a strong bearing on Sunday’s performances, Friday’s results hint that an interesting race is shaping up for world championships. New Zealand’s Brook MacDonald, enjoying a return to form this year, qualified first in Lenzerheide. Perennial fast guys Loris Vergier and Connor Fearon were next. Qualifying fourth, Enduro World Series regular Martin Maes showed his win at the La Bresse World Cup was no fluke. Aaron Gwin looks like he’s back on form after a mid-season injury, posting the fifth fastest time of the day. On the other end, World Cup winner Amaury Pierron was way back in 17th.
Elite Women’s Downhill Qualifying – 2018 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
Reigning world champion, Squamish’s Miranda Miller started her title defense by qualifying 18th on Friday. With a fair gap between Rachel Atherton and Tahnee Seagrave’s top times and the rest of the field, Miller has her work cut out for her on Sunday but isn’t entirely out of touch. Rachel Pageau is the only other Canadian Woman racing downhill in Lenzerheide, and sits 24th after qualifying at her first downhill world championships.
Up front Sunday is shaping up to be another two horse race between Atherton and Seagrave. Atherton posted the fastest time in qualifying, just 0.668 seconds ahead of her rival and teammate on the Great Britain squad. Seagrave, though, was over a second ahead of Atherton through the first two time checks before a mishap in her qualifying run slowed her down.
Junior Downhill Qualifying – 2018 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
Canada’s Junior Men look set for a great race in Sunday’s downhill finals. Kendall McLean qualified well up the rankings in 7th. Elliot Jamieson, who was sixth at World Cup Mont-Sainte-Anne, posted the 15th fastest time. McLean’s Kovarik Racing teammate Ben Wallace was just behind, in 16th.
First year Junior Justin Clements of Calgary, Alta. was the next fastest Canadian in 24th, competing in his first European race. Squamish’s Ian Milley qualified 34th, with Keegan Fry 42nd and Lucas Cruz in 48th after what looks, from his split times on course, like an early crash in his run on Friday.
In the Junior Women’s qualifying round, Austria’s Valentina Höll continued her domination of the field. The young Austrian was fastest by 12 seconds, and her time would have put her inside the top-10 in the Women’s Elite field.
The qualifying round is a new addition to world championships for 2018. Previously, all athletes nominated by their federation to compete at world championships had the chance to compete in finals.