Monte Saint Anne hosted the 2019 Mountain Bike World Championships and the team arrived after an overnight flight from the West Coast. It was a special weekend, with each rider representing their country, and a huge honor for Pivot, which was lucky enough to have all of our riders selected to pull on their national jersey on race day. Eddie was gutted not to be riding, but was still planning on attending the race to cheer on team Pivot and team New Zealand.
To add to the excitement and uniqueness of the World Championships, Pivot had pulled out all the stops to surprise the riders with custom-painted frames. Bernard’s was painted up in the style of his pride and joy, a 1996 Honda CR500 Motocross bike.
Emilie’s frame was an awesome flat-chrome finish with amazing details of her name in Morse code on the rear triangle.
Eddie’s frame was black and white, representing the colors of New Zealand, with details and prints of all things New Zealand: kiwi fruit, flip flops, rugby balls, kiwi birds and fern leaves.
Matt’s frame stood out the most when he unwrapped it. An amazing color scheme representing the New Zealand greenstone that is famously used for jewelry; it looked spectacular on a bike frame, glistening in the sunlight.
Wednesday – Track Walk
Monte Saint Anne is one of the longest-held downhill races, and the track has a legendary status. Long, rough and rocky, it has hosted amazing racing over the years. The track for 2019 had very few changes from the previous year’s World Cup, meaning riders would be up to speed in no time at all. After track walk, Matt and Bernard took some time to watch last year’s World Cup replay to revise lines and get ahead of the game.
Thursday – Training
Training day arrived and so did Eddie. Recovering from his surgery, he was happy to get back with the team and it was bittersweet to see his custom-painted bike. He was stoked on the bike and surprised by the paint job, but gutted not to be riding and representing his country.
Emilie started training on a slick track after a night of rain. With more training time in the World Champs’ schedule, Emilie only rode 3 laps, working out the lines and building up to the high speeds the track requires.
Bernard was back riding after a few weeks out with an injured hand. A tough comeback with a fast and rough track and, with the pressure of the riding for his country, Bernard was reveling in being the underdog. Riding two training runs, Bernard felt up to speed and enjoyed being back between the race tape.
Matt was loving the new bike feeling and the custom paint job. Taking a few runs to get up to speed and get used to the race set-up suspension, Matt found that the track stayed slick through training, with riders dragging mud onto the many rock rolls.
Friday – Qualification
Qualifying at the World Championships is a bit different from World Cups. With 80 riders to qualify in the men’s field and 81 entered, it would be a disaster not to qualify for Matt and Bernard. Emilie was a protected rider due to her UCI ranking, which took all the pressure off her qualification run.
A constant rain drizzle on and off throughout the morning of qualifying kept the rocks on track slick and challenging, but the rain really started to come down for the timed runs. Emilie crossed the line with her bike covered in mud, but a solid run in the wet conditions left her with a great 4th place qualifying.
Matt cruised across the line on his quali run. A huge moment at the top of the track saw him high side off his bike. Landing on his feet, he remounted quickly, but it was a good reminder that qualification was almost guaranteed and he finished his run safely.
Bernard also cruised across the line. Not wanting to risk a crash on his hand the first race back, he finished mid-pack, easily qualifying. Enjoying being back on track and in the wet conditions, he was building up to speed over the course of the weekend and feeling better and better on the bike.
Saturday – Training
A huge rainstorm followed the previous day’s timed runs and the track showed it for a second day of training. Huge holes formed on the racing lines, making the riding harder and more fatiguing.
Emilie was enjoying the drying track and extra grip. Riding well and feeling comfortable on her bike, she only rode two training runs and headed out to cheer the rest of the Swiss team racing the cross country finals.
Matt and Bernard both completed two runs. The extra holes on track made for hard work, but lines remained unchanged. Bernard’s hand was feeling better and better each day riding; he was ready to hang it out for finals.
Sunday – Finals
Finals day brought bright sunshine and huge crowd. The week’s racing had chewed up the track, making it rougher than ever and requiring a wild run to win the rainbow jersey.
Emilie had been feeling good on track all week and was ready to push hard. Coming out of the start and straight into the rough, high-speed track, she was looking fast. Staying strong on her bike, Emilie hit all her lines and crossed the line in 3rd. This was one of the best race runs of her season and left her in a brilliant 5th place finish. Emilie was super happy with her performance and had a great time (only 5 seconds off the win).
Matt started his race run relatively early and everyone was hoping for some hot seat time. Matt crossed the line into first and felt his run was good, but some fatigue at the end of the run cost him a little time.
Bernard came into the packed finish area and pulled a huge, stylish scrub off the final jump to please the crowd. Bernard aimed for a 4-minute, 20-second race run and was happy to achieve this. A very tough track to come back on, and after time-off from riding, he was chuffed with the result and his performance.
Meanwhile, Matt was still in the hot seat. It took well over an hour for his time to be bettered and a nervous wait continued as the last few men dropped into track with Matt sitting in the top 10. A brilliant ride from Matt saw him finish 11th, equalling his career-best World Cup finish.
After a great weekend for the team with two brilliant results from Emilie and Matt and a great return to racing from Bernard, everyone was excited to head over the border to West Virginia for the World Cup finals in Snowshoe.