By Jason Sumner, VeloNews Associate Editor
If every dual on the World Cup circuit came off like the one on Saturday at Mont-Ste-Anne, Quebec, there might actually be some hope for this much-maligned discipline. In front of a crowd that was three and four deep along both sides of the course, and included several hundred more fans sitting in the finish-line grandstands, fellow Southern Californians Leigh Donovan and Eric Carter came out on top of an event that featured plenty of exciting bar-banging action.
In the woman’s bracket Donovan emerged to pick up her fourth win of the year, and put an exclamation point on a stellar season that saw the Schwinn rider take the overall World Cup title in her final year of racing. After receiving a bye in the first round, Donovan took down Melissa Buhl (ODI-KHS), Missy Giove (Global Racing) and Tara Llanes (Yeti-Pearl Izumi) to get the win.
In the finals against Llanes, Donovan got the holeshot and had a comfortable lead through the first two-thirds of the race. But Llanes made up some ground near the end and the pair was nearly side by side going into the last passer-friendly berm. But Llanes lost her balance and dabbed ever so slightly, allowing Donovan to pull away for the win.
“It’s great ending to a great season,” said the soon-to-retire Donovan, who also won the NORBA NCS dual slalom title.
Donovan finished the season with 320 points, 95 more than overall second-place finisher Katrina Miller (Jamis), who qualified slow on Friday and was then knocked out in the first round by Kathy Pruitt (Dirt Works). Llanes was third in the overall, followed by Sabrina Jonnier (Intense) and Anne-Caroline Chausson (Volvo-Cannondale). Chausson won the overall last year, but stopped showing up for the dual midway through the season after being slowed by some nagging injuries.
The men’s bracket featured an old-school final, as Carter matched up against long-time rival Mike King (Haro-Lee Dungarees). Carter made his way to the finals by defeating Wade Bootes (Trek-Volkswagen) in the round of eight and newcomer Brian Schmith in the semis. Schmith is actually a member of the Mongoose-Hyundai BMX team, but has been showing up for a mountain-bike race here and there.
King’s trip to the finals included showdowns with Brian Lopes (GT-Fox) and Mickael Deldycke (Schwinn). Against Lopes, who wrapped up the overall title two weeks ago, King trailed for nearly the entire heat, but at that same berm that almost changed the women’s finals, King shot to the inside of Lopes, passed him, then held on for the win.
In the next round against Deldycke, King appeared to have been sent to the consolation finals when he crashed near the top of the run. But moments after Deldycke crossed the line for what looked to be a victory, it was announced that the Frenchman had been disqualified for aggressive riding.
“He hit me pretty good,” said King about the incident. “The call probably could have gone either way, but that’s racing.”
In the finals Carter got the holeshot and King was never able to close the gap, sending Carter to his first World Cup win of the season.
“This was good aggressive racing,” Carter said after his win. “If you left someone an opening you were going to get passed.”
Lopes finished the season with 345 points, 152 more than Carter, who wound up second. Deldycke, who was extremely unhappy with his disqualification, had to settle for third, just two points behind Carter. Bootes and Cedric Gracia (Volvo-Cannondale) completed the final top five.
On the bright side for Deldycke was the fact that his Schwinn team walked away with the overall dual team award.
TISSOT-UCI WORLD CUP CROSS COUNTRY/DOWNHILL/DUAL NO. 8, Mont-Ste-Anne, Quebec. August 25-26.; Dual; Men:; 1. Eric Carter (USA), Mongoose-Hyundai; 2. Mike King (USA), Haro-Lee Dungarees; 3. Mickael Deldycke (F), Schwinn; 4. Brian Schmith (USA), Mongoose-Hyundai; 5. Brian Lopes (USA), GT-Fox; 6. Cedric Gracia (F), Volvo-Cannondale; 7. Wade Bootes (Aus), Trek-Volkswagen; 8. Greg Minnaar (SA), Global Racing; Women:; 1. Leigh Donovan (USA), Schwinn; 2. Tara Llanes (USA), Yeti-Pear-Izumi; 3. Tai-Lee Muxlo (Aus), Dirt Works; 4. Missy Giove (USA), Global Racing; 5. Sabrina Jonnier (F), Intense; 6. Vanessa Quinn (NZ), DD-Inc-Intense; 7. Kathy Pruitt (USA), Dirt Works; 8. Melissa Buhl (USA), ODI-KHS; Final overall standings; Men:; 1. Lopes, 345 points; 2. Carter, 193; 3. Deldycke, 191; 4. Bootes, 185; 5. Gracia, 159; 6. King, 114; 7. Minnaar, 55; 8. Scott Beaumont (GB), Kona-Ford Focus, 55; 9. Michal Prokop (Cz), Specialized, 51; 10. Sean McCarroll (Aus), Global Racing; Women:; 1. Donovan, 320 points; 2. Miller, 225; 3. Llanes, 205; 4. Jonnier, 177; 5. Anne-Caroline Chausson (F), Volvo-Cannondale, 120; 6. Katja Repo (Fin), GT, 79; 7. Muxlo, 70; 8. Celine Gros (F), Scott-USA, 55; 9. Pruitt, 22; 10. Giove, 20