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We’re out here in Leogang, Austria, for the World Cup bonanza – an action-packed week of downhill, enduro and cross-country World Cup racing.

Scroll down for our downhill notes and Sven Martin’s preview photos from Leogang. Hope you find them useful.


Misspent Summers

BREEZY: Notes from Leogang Downhill World Cup #2 in Leogang, Austria

  • For a recap of last week’s racing in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, with loads of photos and some words, check out our online zine
  • Best course preview ever? Jackson Goldstone has done this zero breaths and big whips GoPro run explaining all the changes to the course (brief: there aren’t many, just a couple of slight diversions up top and a few bits straightened out in the lower woods). How is it possible to ride this fast and talk so calmly for the whole run?
  • Another pro rider putting out great content this week is Ed Masters of Ed Bull Media House. His raw (with trademark commentary) practice videos are gold. Day 1 here, day 2 here
  • Quick tangent: watch Earthed here, the first in the series of films by Alex Rankin for Dirt Mag from 2003. Rankin just uploaded the full film. RAD. Thanks Alex
  • Leogang practice has been seriously dry all week (until qualifying) – the corners are full of crumbly dirt and gravel
  • Were two top-ranking elite women doing laps with riding coaches following them in practice? Teams with UCI Elite MTB Team status can enter riders into events even if the rider doesn’t have enough UCI points (anyone not on an Elite Team needs to score points at UCI-affiliated races to enter World Cups), meaning, in theory, the team could enter someone into a race purely to coach riders in practice. Then they might drop out or, er, not make the cut in qualifying. Elite Teams have a minimum of 2 riders and a maximum of 10. Read the Elite Team rules here (page 72)
  • There’s pretty much only one good line in most areas. Having said that, some key parts can set a rider up for a fast run through long sections. A clean run out of the stumps onto the ‘motorway’ or around the left-hand turn before the final straight can make a big difference to average speeds
  • The infamously nadgery woods section that was introduced for World Champs in 2020 is finally dry (-ish – more on that in a minute). It’s nuts to see how fast the world’s best downhillers hit every root, rut and drop
  • This is the 12th downhill World Cup at Leogang. The town has also hosted been two World Championships
  • It seems that bikes are now so good and riders so skilled that even the most treacherous-looking sections turn into high-speed scalextric tracks

continued below…

    • Weather check: Despite the sunshine all week, Thursday started with light rain, but the track was unaffected and returned to full dustbowl status for Group A (the elite big guns) practice. The junior women’s finals was hot and dry too
    • THEN, oh boy, things got wild. Junior men’s finals had started, and a number of riders had already come down, before a huge gust of wind blew through and rain started dumping down. By all accounts it was carnage at the top of the hill. Racing was postponed until the wind died down
    • When racing started again, the first few riders had to contend with a greasy top layer. But it quickly cleaned off, leaving the course more manageable
    • Congratulations to Lisa Bouladou and Léo Abella for taking the wins in junior women and junior men! The future’s bright
    • Watch the junior downhill finals replay here *
    • *Junior women’s has no audio for most of the race and junior men’s cuts out after the race interruption
    • Amaury Pierron crashed in practice in Lenzerheide and left the event with a sore neck. This week he found out he fractured a vertebra and was incredibly lucky not to be more seriously affected. Needless to say, Pierron is out for the next races. Get well soon AP
    • With enduro and downhill in the same week for the first time ever (last year the Enduro World Series was its own standalone series; 2023 is the first time enduro is a World Cup discipline; this is the first event hosting both disciplines), plus cross-country racing throughout the week, the schedule is rammed for riders, teams, media and organisation. Hats off to everyone working double-time – hope you get some rest
    • Much like junior racing, the elites got off to a fine start in the women’s qualifying. Local hero Vali Höll took the top spot – she’s been looking amazing in practice
    more below…
  • Men’s qualifying wasn’t such a simple affair. It all started well but then the winds picked up again, forcing a lengthy course hold in which time the track got another lashing (nothing too drastic – most of the rain soaked straight through)
  • Most of the top-ranked riders who have protected status (meaning they automatically qualify for semi-finals and/or finals) chose to ride conservatively in their runs as there aren’t many series points up for grabs in qualifying – it probably wasn’t worth risking it all after sitting in the cold at the top for a long time
  • Finn Iles didn’t get the memo and laid down a fast run nonetheless to take seventh. Listen to his post-quali interview with Sven here
  • Davide Palazzari set the fastest time in men’s qualifying
  • Full Leogang results here
  • Forecast: DH oracle Point1 Athletic assures us Saturday will be dry for semi-finals and finals. Fingers crossed
  • Watch semi-finals for free here from 10:30 CEST Saturday 17 June
  • Finals broadcast starts at 12:45 CEST with elite women and 13:50 with elite men on GCN+ globally and Eurosport and Discovery+ in Europe
  • Rankings: Despite the relatively small number of points in qualifying, Camille Balanche (2nd in qualifying) appears to have leapfrogged Rachel Atherton (6th in qualifying) in the series rankings to take the lead going into semi-finals. Jordan Williams holds the lead in the elite men. Every little counts
  • BorisSven and Seb are out here snapping all the best photos for our downhill and enduro yearbooks. Check our website next week for our online zine reports from the racing here in Leogang. Thanks for reading!
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