After suffering a last minute crash in Fort William one week ago, America's Aaron Gwin proved that he is still the man to beat in the downhill season of 2011, with a convincing win in tricky conditions at Leogang Austria. Aaron's win means that he, like his team mate Tracy Moseley, will be carrying the World Cup leader's jersey across the Atlantic for Round 4 in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada, in 2 weeks time. It was a great weekend for the entire team with Tracy finishing 3rd, Justin Leov scoring another top 10 with 8th, Neko Mulally having a career best 32nd and the Session 88's carrying the team to the top spot for the weekend, just like Fort William.
The course in Leogang was very much affected by the wet and cloudy weather throughout the week. Large holes and ruts were opening up and the first sector of the track was very slippery and would normally demand mud tires, but the rolling speed of the remaining 2 sectors meant that for the men, dry tires were a better bet. 2nd place Gee Atherton (GBR) who rode just before Aaron (who started last as the fastest qualifier), ran mud tires and was 3 seconds up after the first interval on eventual 3rd place Greg Minnaar (RSA). That looked impressive, but when Aaron came down on dry tires, and was 1.7secs faster than Gee, many in the crowd just shook their heads in amazement. This was to be an amazing run. When Aaron crossed the line, he had more than 2 seconds over Gee, and nearly 6 seconds over Greg Minnaar. An incredible ride on the 2012 World Championship course.
Aaron now has a 46 point margin over Greg Minnaar, wit h Atherton 101 points behind. Tracy Moseley's 3rd was a solid ride and one that she was very happy with on this track. Her series lead is 90 points going into Round 4. Justin's 8th place in the race moves him from 10th overall to 8th, while Neko jumps up to 39th and is looking forward very much to racing Mont-Sainte-Anne.
Aaron said: "I walked the first section of the track just before my race run, to see how it was changing and that certainly helped. Then lower down I came unclipped and instead of taking a big risk trying to get my foot back in, I tried to calm myself down and rode a good 200m before I found a safe chance to get back in and power down. After finishing 3rd here last year, and especially after last week's crash, I'm super stoked to take this win.”
Tracy said: "I knew Floriane (Pugin) would be the favorite on this track, so my goal was a top 3. I struggled a bit here last year, so to get 3rd and be only 1/10th of a second behind Rachel on this type of track makes me pretty happy”.
Justin said: "The course was a lot tougher in early morning training. The mud was super tacky and collecting shrapnel making the chain skip a lot, but fortunately the sun came out and I could have a good run. Screwed up a couple of things up top, but definitely happy to be only 0.7secs off the podium.”