Friday’s action at the 2017 mountain bike world championships in Cairns, Australia saw two Canadians break into the top 20 of men’s under-23 competition, after Marc-Andre Fortier of Victoriaville, Que., finished 12th, and Quinton Disera of Horseshoe Valley, Ont., finished 17th.
The event saw Sam Gaze of New Zealand defend his title, followed in second place by Alan Hatherly of South Africa and Maximilian Brandl taking bronze.
At the beginning of the six-lap, 4.3-km circuit, a group of 14 riders put a gap on the main field by the end of the start loop, tearing through the rainforest at Smithfield Park. Among that group was Disera, followed eight seconds behind by Fortier. Disera, competing for his first year as an under-23 athlete, stayed in the top 12 through the first four laps, before dropping back slightly in the last two. Fortier, meanwhile, edged forward from a start position on the sixth row of riders to the top 20 by the end of the start loop, and into the top 15 by the end of the third lap.
During the last two laps of the race, Fortier was in a three-way battle for 10th place.
The Quebec-based athlete was effusive looking back at the competition. “It was amazing. I didn’t have any problems all race,” he said. “I started 48th and by the end of the start loop I had moved up a lot; it was an amazing day for me. Usually I prefer courses with shorter punchy climbs like Mont-Sainte-Anne, and here it was a long climb. So it was not the perfect course for me, but today it was perfect. It’s a good way to end the season, so for the winter I will have lots of motivation to train.”
Other Canadian riders in the competition included Peter Disera, who was in the top 15 but dropped back to the mid-20s after flatting after the third lap. He finished in 24th place. Canadian under-23 champion Sean Fincham, from Squamish, B.C., moved up from near the back of the field early to maintain a 33rd place for the finish.
Raphael Auclair of Haute-Saint-Charles, Que., finally, found himself in the mid-30s before a mechanical issue—a twisted chain—forced him into the pits during the second lap. The Quebec rider finished 60th.