HIGH STAKES: Leogang World Cup Qualifying Slideshow 5

<b>FACE OFF! The most mathematical Silverback ever captured on the internet.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>But seriously folks, it comes down to one final run in a matter of hours and the battle is between Stevie Smith and Gee Atherton for the 2013 World Cup overall. Greg Minnaar in audio.</b> @Maddogboris

<b>Only 3 points separate the warriors in the battle for the World Cup overall. Do or do not do, there is no try. Gee has some heavyweights in his corner, like Stevie Bell.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Steve Smith was on it today, low and fast through the gully near the end. Danny Hart, in audio, does not want to make a bet on who's taking the title.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>A lot of people think Gee is super serious all the time. Not the case. Speed 'n Style step down on the eve of the biggest race of the year.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>The weather dried up today as the day wore on, the course will be fast tomorrow tomorrow. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>Mick Hannah jumped off the drop into the steep chute where others were pressing. He's a boss. Who's that good looking lad in the yellow media vest?</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Thumbs up from Greg Minnaar. After 6 years of racing, Kathy Sessler, has never had to pull a rider from a race...until today.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Turning up in a tracksuit is a pretty sure-fire sign that you're not planning on doing a full race run. Just breaking the beam today and being a protected rider, Sam Hill extended his decision as to whether to race.</b> @Maddogboris

<b>Danny Hart, not a fan of Pete Rose</b> -Sven Martin

<b>The Top 10 Elite Men in the UCI World Cup appeared to be falling like flies. With 3 out from this weekend, Brook and Gwin from previous rounds its an open top 20 for anyone's taking.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Steve Peat's early morning stretching routine.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>After Steve Peat got hooked over the bars the roots got a clearing. This one was a hazard and was cleared for safety, not to make the course easier.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Joost Wichman announced his retirement from 4X prior to this event. It was only fitting to then see him take the win. YEAH JOOST!</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Double World Champion in BMX and now 4X, along with a 5th in World Champs downhill, Caroline Buchanan has to be one of the most accomplished female riders on the planet at the moment.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Juggling 4X and Enduro Anneke Beerten was pushed to her limit in the Women's final. A brutal case and one destroyed wheel later, she crossed the line suffering a knee injury. Hopefully we can see her fit for the final EWS.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Michael Mechura came a close 2nd in Men's 4X. Both he and Wichman moved up places in the final corner but it wasn't enough. Thumbs not quiet up this time.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Finding a quiet spot while turbos whirr and and the start beeps roll can be a challenge for some riders. Rachel however sinks into the zone and contemplates what needs to be done.</b> @Maddogboris

<b>Ragot needs to decide to go for the win or keep it steady for the overall podium. She is not the only one with the same dilemma. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>Lapierre's BoXXers, all with a good chance of a podium tomorrow.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>So young, yet impressively consistent. Loic Bruni trails just behind Blenkinsop in the World Cup overall in what has been an outstanding first year in Elite. 4th in qualifying and one place ahead of Blenki, Lapierre looks set for a solid end to the season.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Marcelo Gutierrez said it himself; he wasn't expecting to make appearances in the Top 10 this year. A solid off season of training, however, has put him right up there.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Mutha Scratchin' Neko Mulally! GO GET 'EM!</b> -Sven Martin

<b>A crash up top for Needles hides his true potential. After 3rd last week, he's now protected and won't start too far down the rankings.</b> @Maddogboris

<b>Andrew Neethling thinking about what needs to be done to bring back another Norway result.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Troy Brosnan is one of those in potential contention of the 3rd spot in the World Cup overall. Improving on his 6th in qualifying to a 2nd or 1st in the race would make is possible. #nailbiter</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Blenki is one of the five riders that could move into the Top 3 in the overall if the cards and times fall right.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>For the second race in a row Josh Bryceland was a *tad off the mark* in the speed trap. No throwing the horns for us this time? Whats up Josh? 11th with consistent splits bodes well for race day.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Here at Vital we don't normally feature riders if they're wearing jackets during sunny weather. However if you're laying it flat and making interesting wheel choices, you stand a chance of making it.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>After winning the Junior Men's class at Fort William, Noel Niederberger has proven his ability to win. 1.3-seconds up in qualifying, the other Juniors are going to have to up their game on race day.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>It may be surprising to know that Manon could have potentially still won the overall before qualifying today. However after losing 25 points to Rachel, it's no longer a possibility.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Yea Connor. 13th is the best qualifying result for the young Aussie, who is still rocking flat pedals in the top 20.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Trailing just behind Stevie's footsteps, Mark Wallace qualified 2nd in the Junior Men's class. The Canadian has yet to take a win but looks set to improve on his third at Hafjell.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Exciting racing this evening in the 4X race with plenty of overtakes, crashes and beautiful views.</b> @Maddogboris

<b>Jill Kintner surprised some with her 3rd place qualifier today, but she has always had good splits here in Austria.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Miranda Miller smashing the rocks.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>This is the kind of effort and determination you need to have even in qualifiers these days. Nick Beer wanting it.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Sponsor me in 2014. Eddie Masters may be a gamble to sign, especially with only one leg. But the media exposure alone he brings to the table is gold.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Token emo bike wash shot. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>Scotty Mears always stylish. #sixpack</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Deano finished 3rd today in the Junior Men's class. Their race for the overall is almost as tight as the Elites. Tight racing all year, down to the wire again. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>Getting mud on her face is no big disgrace and Rachel could be waving her banner all over the place tomorrow. Someone is gonna rock us.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Felix Racaud during Junior seeding. The season went by in a blur, didn't it?</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Just soak it in, there's only one more run left in the 2013 World Cup after today. #sadface</b> -Sven Martin

<b>No photoshop trickery here. HAVE FUN IN THE COMMENTS WITH THIS ONE! Here's to a safe, fair and epic race! Thanks to Sven, Duncan and Joe once again for the fantastic work!</b> -Sven Martin

In 6th grade, my English teacher would say, "T.P.I.O., The Pressure is On," whenever a student would hesitate with an answer to a question. Some 25-years later, it is clear that correctly answering a question in 6th grade English class is not pressure. Trying to win the UCI World Cup Downhill overall, with only one run to go, when you're in a virtual tie with your only competitor and the entire MTB world watching is some god damned pressure.

Gee Atherton and Steve Smith are now separated by 3 measely points after qualifying today and they each have one, single, solitary run ahead of them to determine who will take the most coveted crown a downhill racer can earn. There can be no mistakes, there can be no hesitation. Hell, they can't even mis-time a blink of their eyes during their run or it could be all over.

But wait! There's more. The Women's title has not been sewn up and neither has the Junior Men's. In Leogang, Austria, it will be all-out war on downhill bikes on Sunday. Until then, see how we got into this dramatic mess with some epic qualifying action and 4X World Championships. Sven Martin, Duncan Philpott and Joe Bowman, capture the chaos no matter what the pressure!
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  • CombatMutt

    9/22/2013 8:20 AM

    Shot number 16, is that a carbon wheel?

  • judgerider68

    9/22/2013 6:24 AM

    and ONCE AGAIN vital delivers the BEST photos... and NO photoshop !!!!!! NOOOO disrespect to stevie and gee, but im rooting for sik mik
    to take the win..he deserves at least ONE win this year. : D !!!!!!!! this is TRULY the way the last race of the season should go down !!!!!!!!! and i agree with got shovel..that pic of rach..
    AWESOME...... DEFINITELY one of the best. THANKS VITAL !!!!!!!!

  • GotShovel

    9/21/2013 10:44 PM

    That last picture of Rachel.. Just amazing. The best I've ever seen of her.

  • thebyker

    9/21/2013 9:30 PM

    great photos

  • sideshow

    9/21/2013 9:28 PM

    This is one of the most hotly contested years in some time. Most excellent. Perfect ending shot too!

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