Photo Epic: Mud Bath – Leogang Team Relay and E-Bike World Champs 2020 –

The World Champs have officially kicked off with not one but two races on opening day. It’s a day we thought we wouldn’t get to see this year given the current situation across the globe but the organizers seem to have everything under control as of now. Athletes from each federation present have been preparing for this since the last champs took place and are eager to get things started. The festivities began with a team relay between nations and ended with e-bikes zapping around the very slippery, newly carved course.

Mother nature was a last-minute shoo-in at the start line and wreaked havoc on the already treacherous course. The grassy hill is now a pudding slide and all the new natural sections are a write off. The race was won or lost depending on how upright you stayed. Most riders went full cyclocross and ran entire sections of the course. It was carnage.

Twelve nations showed up to the team relay and were met with cold and wet conditions straight off the bat. Early riders from the United States were pulling away with it before fighting for the lead once again. In the last few laps, the French riders pulled away once Austria’s light dimmed out, granting France the win with Italy and Switzerland in tow.

The e-bikes then took charge on the already rutted out track. The rain continued to fall and made the climbs hilariously slippery having rear wheels spinning everywhere. The men were first to start and Jerome Gilloux had the early jump. All eyes were on Tom Pidcock however who knows a thing or two about racing in terrible conditions. He seemed out of contention early yet managed to ride the swampy sections as if they were dry, gaining valuable time on Gilloux, and eventually passing him. Simon Andreassen had an equally impressive ride having never ridden a e-bike before and letting his bike handling skills do the talking.

The women’s e-bike race ended the day here in Leogang. It was all Melanie Pugin from about the second lap after an impressive ride, bringing it home for France. Behind her, the two Swiss riders, Kathrine Stirnemann and Nathalie Schneitter went back and forth a few times until the last lap. Mud was being flung in every direction until the last rider was through.

Christopher Blevins starting the relay for the U.S.A.

Luke Wiedmann ready to go.

Austria takes the stage here at home.

Team relay is a go.

Tobias Lillelund pinning for Denmark.

Luca Martin started clawing back the lead, playing a big role for France.

Haley Batten foot out flat out for the U.S.

When your bike lands uphill from you and you gotta go get it.

Rain had turned the steep woods into a swamp. Waddling down the shoot was the only way down for most.

Olivia Onesti charging ahead.

We may see a lot of this weekend if the weather keeps up.

Harriet Harnden keeping the charge for Great Britain.

Motor or not, this course is a monster.

Mona Mitterwallner trying to make up some time for Austria late in the laps.

Conditions are, well. Yeah.

Racing finally got underway today and it was sloppy throughout.

France has been utterly dominant in all disciplines of MTB lately. Loana Lecomte making sure it stayed that way.

The dive into the mudslide switchback was a little too high speed for some.

Jordan Sarrou was last to start for France and ensured the win for his country.

Sarrou across the line for France.

Jordan Sarrou celebrates the win with team France after the relay.

Top three-nations for the team relay are France, Italy, and Switzerland.

Papa Bruni lining up for a wet one.

Tom Pidcock hid in the second row at the start but quickly found his way ahead of all the chaos.

Men’s e-bike start.

Those open grass corners got slick.

The conditions today certainly weren’t favourable.

Kenta Gallagher doing what any fine Scottish lad does in the mud – rails ruts.

Tom Pidcock on his way to the win here at the Leogang Covid-19 E-MTB worlds.

Into the thick of it. If anything E Worlds was a hoot watching those heavy bikes slide through the slop.

Jerome Gilloux tiptoeing the slick steep bit.

Fifth place finisher Joris Ryf with a close encounter with a tree.

Track conditions were at an all-time low.

Pidcock finding the fastest ruts, pulling way ahead.

Simon Andreassen pointing and shooting between the pines. An impressive ride from him today.

Jean Pierre Bruni enjoying the ruts.

It was basically cross season out there.

Huge victory for Tom Pidcock.

Andreassen was more mud than human.

Gilloux trying to keep some heat in after his ride into second.

Your men’s e-bike podium – Tom Pidcock, Jerome Gilloux, and Simon Andreassen.

Women’s e-mtb start.

Nathalie Schneitter pulling a gutsy pass on Kathrine Stirnemann. Katherine would later take back second place.

Maghalie Rochette took fifth for the women in E MTB.

Sofia Wiedenroth surviving the deep ruts into fourth.

Kathrine Stirnemann had shaken off Nathalie Schneitter, securing second.

Melanie Pugin on her way to the rainbow stripes in the E MTB race.

Melanie Pugin up front and in control.

Big win for Melanie Pugin and another for France.

Melanie Pugin is your E MTB World Champion in 2020. Given her performance at the EWS this year it comes as a surprise to no one.

Kathrine Stirnemann rode very well today.

Back on the podium for Nathalie Schneitter after last year’s win.

Your women’s e-bike podium – Melanie Pugin, Kathrine Stirnemann, and Nathalie Schneitter.