The limits of traction and the limits of mental composure were tested today at the World Cup Downhill mountain bike race in Leogang, Austria. Sunny skies and dry, loose course conditions at the Austrian venue provided challenges for riders. If a run wasn't perfect and patient, the result was hitting the deck or making a costly, time-sucking mistake. Many competitors found themselves washing out somewhere before the first split and other racers who had fast top portions of the track, lost time in the technical, steeper lower portion of the course.
Vali Holl remained consistent by backing up her 18-second qualifying win with an 18-second race day win today followed by Anna Newkirk (#USDH) in 2nd place. Mille Johnset in 3rd. This victory gets Vali Holl the #1 plate back as she retakes the overall lead in the class.
Thibaut Daprela is on a hot streak with a perfect World Cup DH season so far on race day. He earned his third win in as many races and retains a nearly 100pt lead in the overall. The dry, dusty conditions worked to Kye A'hern's advantage and he found himself in 2nd place today. The #12 rider of Matteo Iniguez posted a fantastic result with 3rd place today.
Elite Women's racing has been a roller coaster this season. Tracey Hannah played it calm and cool and held it together for a victory today. Her result earns her the series lead after three races. Nina Hoffman is on an upward trajectory and her best World Cup result of 2nd place, and Kate Weatherly posted a stellar result into 3rd. Rachel Atherton, series leader coming into Leogang, finished in last place after a crash, costing valuable series points, dropping her to 2nd overall.
Tracey Hannah Post-Race Interview
The Elite Men's race was dramatic and unpredictable all the way through the last rider down the mountain, something we've come to expect from Leogang. The course challenged different riders in different ways. Some riders attacked and gained on the rough, steep portions of the course while losing time on the flatter, flowier sections. Other riders made time on the flatter, flowier portions only to lose it in the steeps. It took a flawless run through the entire course to make victory happen. Prior to Loic Bruni dropping in, there was a tight cluster of riders chipping away by tenths. Loic dropped in and posted a 3:16, three seconds ahead of the qualifying time set by Greg Minnaar yesterday.
"I've done enough to surprise myself. It's not going to hold, but I'm happy," Loic said in a post-race interview. Loic's time ultimately held and he took the win by just .3 seconds. He is now within 5 points of the overall lead, just behind Troy Brosnan.
Loic Bruni Post-Race Interview (with gold at the end from Fabien Barel)
Troy Brosnan matched Loic Bruni on the top portion of the course, through the motorway and dead even into the woods. There, Troy lost valuable time and pulled up 3rd place when the dust settled.
Loris Vergier was on the pace of Loic, within reach until the last flat corner before dropping into the finish chute. He washed out and frantically tried to get back on the bike. His crash put him back 6 seconds and he ended up 19th.
Greg Minnaar is back. He was nipping at the time of Loic the entire run, only .2 back on the last split. Nails were bitten to the nub as Greg issued an immaculate performance, slotting into 2nd place, just .3 behind Loic.
The Top 3 Elite Men's racers finished within the same second and 4th through 6th were all in the same 3:18 zone. Incredible.