Photo Epic presented by Five Ten
It may have taken until October but finally we have ourselves some top-level downhill racing to savour and there’s no easing in… First race back and it’s World Champs in Leogang. Whilst the Austrian venue is a mainstay on the World Cup circuit, it’s often dubbed as a fairly mellow bike park race. That certainly wouldn’t appear to be the case this year. Walking down the track today in some rather foul conditions, it seemed to follow the usual Leogang flavour of high speed and manmade features until we reached the wallrides above the woods. The riders take the left hand wallride as normal but instead of taking the right hander too, they break off the normal track and onto some off-camber grass before diving into the woods on to some oh-so-steep and oh-so-slick fresh cut which will change the complexity of this World Championship massively.
There were mixed feelings from the riders it seemed. Some loved it, some even called it dangerous. For years racers have screamed out for something different from the Leogang track and this year the organisers have certainly delivered that. The bottom woods is unridden, off camber, steep, rooty, and treacherously slick. The first practice session tomorrow will be an eye-opening experience for both those inside and outside of the tape. Should the racers survive the woods, their path will then be blocked by a huge new gap which had people gulping and gasping when they walked the plank to peer over the edge. The track is soft and soaking top to bottom thanks to consistently heavy rain throughout the day. The next 2 days look slightly more favourable weather-wise but then for race day it looks like a whole other kettle of fish… Predictions anyone? We haven’t the faintest.
No pass, no entry. The organisers seem to be running a tight ship with different bubbles and regulations in place this weekend to keep everyone safe. You won’t be seeing much from us in the pits this weekend unfortunately.
The Bulldog is back. What a comeback story. A little over a year on from his horrendous World Champs crash in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Brook MacDonald is back in action.
Myriam Nicole didn’t get to wear her World Champs jersey a whole lot this season, so will be hungry to defend it in the hope of more outings next season.
Trek Factory Racing is 3 strong this weekend with Chilean EWS race Pedro Burns joining Charlie Harrison and Reece Wilson.
The same off-camber start that we’ve been accustomed to over the last few years is back in again this year.
Aaron Gwin knows Leogang and how to win it come what may… But does he know ‘this kind’ of Leogang? The extreme weather is a curveball and the new section, well, you’ll see.
Snow on the peaks, rain on the rooves. World Champs is here with about the best weather conditions we could have hoped for October in the mountains.
A stampede of masked riders with umbrellas covering the track. Take your best guess who’s who and what line might be nice to ride.
An all-new hip-jump up top should produce some sick moments on camera, unless those damn racers find a way to cut or squash it. Which they surely will.
The woman to beat this weekend? Vali Holl lives very close by to Leogang and is finally making the step up to elites.
The stump section always gets a lot of attention thanks to its tricky exit which can kill crucial exit speed onto the motorway.
Fresh touches have been applied at many points on the way down, but the rain won’t help keep them at there best for long.
Seth Sherlock skates his way down the woods hoping the BC-like conditions will feel familiar come tomorrow.
No Californian is happy with damp feet and AG was probably struggling to maintain the smile under the mask.
When the ruts form tomorrow afternoon, it’ll be better. Poor women and juniors riding first thing tomorrow.
It might not look like much, but that kicker is one of the bigger jumps we’ve seem at a World Cup or World Champs race.
So again the mind turns to who goes well in the mud. Well, Greenland certainly loves those UK conditions.
Some freshly laid, err tarmac following the gap out of the woods. Actually, we could do with a whole lot more of that if anyone plans on riding this track quickly in this kind of weather.