After a wet qualifying race day dawned and we were greeted with relatively dry conditions, due to the amount of moisture in the ground it meant it would still be wet for early morning practice and then racing after. We have put together some images of the action, check it out!
There is a short break until the next world cup, what will this race hold?!
We are back in Austria for the Leogang world cup, one of our favourite races on the calendar. We are Snapchatting the race – so make sure you follow us @downhill247. The mountains provide an idyllic background but more importantly mean there is some elevation to play with on the track. The track itself has some noticeably different sections, varying from hardpack bike path like parts to rooty, loamy, earthy sections. The weather for the track walk was dark and wet, with mud the dominating factor.
For practice the sun came out and the skies were blue, this meant the track started to dry up, it was still boggy in parts, especially for group B who practiced earlier in the day. It was Troy Brosnan who was fastest in timed practice by some 4 seconds, qualifying will be the first real test of speed.
Qualifying is next on the cards, check back soon for all the action.
As long time supporters of Connor Fearon this has to be one of our favourite Inside Infos ever, without further adieu we hand it over to the man himself;
Coming into Leogang I had mixed emotions. The first two world cups this year I had a crash and a flat tyre so was disappointed to say the least. Especially after training so hard in the off season I had high hopes for this year. Leogang has always treated me well. In 2012 I placed 3rd in the junior world championships, 2013 I got my first ever top 10 (10th place) and 2014 I got my best result at the time of 9th. I was nervous that I would ruin another race in a row… Fun fact while I’m here, I ended up with plate number 36 for this race. A number I always thought was lucky because C and F are the third and sixth number of the alphabet… I’m not one to be superstitious but I was a little excited when I saw the number.
Anyways, we arrived in Leogang and had a look at the track. There where quite a few new sections which I think made the track better. People always complain about Leogang being to “bike parky”. Meaning it’s hard pack dirt with wide berms and braking bumps everywhere from having a lot of bike traffic on it. There was a lot off fresh loam but after it rained and practice went by all the dirt moved and exposed hundreds of roots. I felt comfortable on the track straight away but took some time setting up my suspension looking for the best performance I could get. In timed training at the end of the first practice day I put in a couple of solid efforts and was around 5th so I thought another top 10 in the finals wouldn’t be out of reach. Next was qualifying. I had planned to just have a solid clean run and not to push the envelope to much because I wasn’t protected. I thought this should land me in the top 20 somewhere. I guess I proved myself wrong when I crossed the line in 2nd place behind Aaron Gwinn. I was happy for about 10 minutes then the nerves started setting in. Getting a World Cup podium is a massive dream for mine and this was the golden opportunity.
I couldn’t really sleep that night because I was so nervous and on race day I just wanted to hurry up and get the race over and done with. I had 2 practice runs and then went back to the hotel and chilled for a couple hours before I had to race. My race run was really good. I hit all my lines perfectly and rode on the edge the whole way. I got to the halfway mark and knew I was on a really good ride so decided to just push it to the finish. Dropping into the last section I rode an inch wide off a fade away drop and landed just outside the track for a split second before returning to the course. I knew people had been harshly disqualified for this in the past so I didn’t know if that mistake would cost me. I came across the line in first which guaranteed me a top 2 spot.
Aaron finished and just beat me with no chain somehow but I really didn’t care I had rode the best race I could. Still feeling so nervous I was going to get disqualified I didn’t feel relieved until after the podium. It felt amazing to stand up there with the worlds best riders and especially my mate Troy who I’ve been racing for 10 years since we where 10 years old. It’s definitely a massive weight off my shoulders to get a podium and I think it’s going to make racing easier for me in the future with this new confidence.
Massive thanks to all my sponsors Kona Bikes, Fox Head, HT components, Fast Twitch gym Adelaide, Yakima racks, Maxxis and all the other team sponsors!
Round 3 of the UCI mountain bike world cup in Leogang, Austria was one of the most memorable races for years, if not ever. By now everyone knows the results and what a one Mr Aaron Gwin did sans chain but there’s more to the race than just that race winning run.
The week was a constant guessing game in relation to the weather, the alpine weather could change at the drop of the hat. Conditions went from dry and dusty to monsoonal and wet in no time flat, in the end the conditions for racing were okay, the biggest challenge for the riders were the strong winds.
Juniors were on track first and for anyone that wasn’t fortunate enough to be track side the live timing was the closest to the action you could get. As there often is it looks like the race for the overall will be a see-sawing battle, this time it was Australia’s own Andrew Crimmins who took the win by 3 seconds over Irish rider Jacob Dickson who is being mentored by Ben Reid. Laurie Greenland, one of the other strong overall contenders finished 3rd with a broken chain (did he start a trend for the day?!). It is also worth mentioning Jacckson Frew took home a solid 5th place and Remy Morton suffered a mechanical and finished down the bottom of the list but is as positive as always!
The women’s race was always going to be interesting with a few riders capable of the win, in the end the British showed why they are the power house of the sport taking gold and silver. Rachel Atherton, the most dominant female rider of this generation, surprisingly had never won at Leogang before. Rachel was quietly hoping for rain but in didn’t need it as she took a 3 second victory, finishing second, for the second race in a row, was Tahnee Seagrave. You would think that Tahnee is going to grab a maiden victory sooner rather than later. For Australia Tracey Hannah grabbed 6th, missing the podium on her birthday weekend by one place and Tegan Molloy A�finished 15th.
Moving onto the men’s race and the anticipation was high, Loic Bruni came down early on after issues in his qualifying run. He was blunt during his hot seat interview saying he didn’t think his run was enough for the victory. True to his word he eventually finished 8th.
Coming into the race there were any number of riders who could have won the race, Greg Minnaar has a fantastic record here and had won just the weekend prior. Unfortunately for Greg (who is a tall fella) he hit his head on the start gate and had to rearrange his helmet/goggles and in the end couldn’t notch up another victory.
Flo Payet came over the finish line jump and had a tyre blow of the rim, sending tubeless sealant all over anyone standing close by. Dean Lucas powered home for 24th, his team mate Stevie Smith wasn’t so lucky crashing and finishing way down the order. Gee Atherton couldn’t replicate his sisters race and finished off the podium in 6th. Trpy Brosnan finished 4th, a solid result and one that will help his chances for the overall, 0.2 ahead of Troy was Remi Thirion claiming 3rd. If there is a danger man for the world championships in Andorra later this year surely it is Remi.
Much to the Australian downhill communities delight Connor Fearon managed to replicate his qualifying position and finished second!!! It was a nervous few minutes while officials waited to see if he gained any advantage after he ran off course near the bottom where Manon had earlier. His first world cup podium, check downhill247 for his Inside Info on his first world cup podium. First, without a chain, was Aaron Gwin who admitted ‘strange things happen here’ after losing his brakes at the 2012 world championships, his tyre at the 2014 race and then this year his chain! His win will go down in history as one of the most amazing runs of all time.
Next world cup is the new track is in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, Steve Peat is helping create it so no doubt it will be epic.
Today saw the sun over a rain free Leogang, leaving the track dry and loose for qualifying. The ‘B’ group riders had morning practice to themselves before moving over for the ‘A’ group riders, so many of the B group practiced on a track still moist form the overnight dew, having a much more tacky effect, but also a little more slippery, leaving them slightly more reserved when it came to all out speed. As the A group riders began to transition to practice we noticed the speed start to increase, not only as the higher ranked riders flowed down the hill but also as the track dried and became quicker.
There was a surprisingly noticeable speed different between riders speed, with each rider seeming to have a part of the track they enjoyed the most and was able to open up. There were some very interesting lines through the wood sections, we wonder if the lines were creative to counteract any rain that may be on the way, or if they were to avoid some of the ruts now forming.
Qualis began with a monster field, 72 Junior Men, 38 Women and 237 Elite Men. The juniors looked tentative through the woods, being the B group, the last time they saw the track it was still moist, they appeared to be expecting it to still be a bit moist, taking it easy over the roots and covered areas. With the Juniors finished the women began to flow down the track, with Manon Carpenter looking right at home, likely riding the confidence from an absolute stellar season, we watched Tracey Hannah come through the roots, taking it all in her stride, in a section very similar to the Bright track where she took national champs out.
The men then started to flow down, with the top rated coming down first in qualification the speed difference is astounding, the top men attacking the roots and steep parts of the track with an intensity not seen in any other category.
With all the riders down the hill the qualification is as follows: