Courtesy of Red Bull Media Service Team
Frenchman and Australian take UCI MTB World Cup wins on fast, loose track.
Australia’s Tracey Hannah and France’s Loïc Bruni
took their respective elite class victories amid a thrilling third
round of the Mercedes-Benz UCI Downhill World Cup in Leogang, Austria. Here is all you need to know:
The Leogang Bike Park track, although sometimes criticised for a lack
of technicality, is known for its staggering speeds and seldom fails to
produce captivating battles.
– In the elite women’s race, New Zealand’s Kate Weatherly took the hot seat early on with a superb run. Marine Cabirou,
one of the emerging French talents, crashed out from a good position to
leave the Kiwi’s first top-flight podium looking like more of a
– Germany’s Nina Hoffman, who had grabbed her own
first top-three finish at the previous round in Fort William, was the
first to pip her time.
– Rachel Atherton,
the defending champ, crashed high on the course and was over 20 seconds
back at the first split. That left the fastest qualifier (for the third
time this season) Tracey Hannah
alone at the top. The Aussie’s run was perfectly balanced amid the
dusty conditions, which she admitted suited her, and she was duly
rewarded with her first win of 2019.
– Speaking after her
win, Hannah said: “I’ve won three World Cups, but none of the World Cups
I’ve won Rachel has started in. I’ve finally had the chance to be
strong enough and fit enough to give her a run for her money. That means
more to me than the World Cup win alone; racing against her and being
able to win.”
– In the elite men’s race, the fastest
qualifying time of Saturday was beaten early in the day as the track
dried and burned in. Greg Minnaar had gone fastest on Saturday, so the big question was whether he could convert that into a remarkable 22nd World Cup win.
– The USA’s Charlie Harrison initially held the hot seat, until world champ Loïc Bruni
beat his time by over three seconds. Bruni celebrated in the finish
area, but quickly declared that he didn’t think that he’d done enough.
He felt that he’d left too much time on the fast middle section of the
– The last man who stood a chance of taking top spot
was Minnaar. The South African was faster towards the bottom of the
track, but the damage had been done at the top, leaving Bruni to
celebrate his second win of the season.
– A delighted Bruni
commented: “I was struggling on the top section at the beginning of the
weekend, then yesterday at the bottom, so maybe today I kind of found
the balance. I started the run pretty committed and I couldn’t really
feel the grip. It was super-hard because it dried up a lot. I just held
on, depended on everything I had – because every detail counts on this
track – and it was enough.”
– There is now a break of a few weeks before the season resumes in Vallnord, Andorra on July 5.