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Finn Iles third in Qualifying at Leogang worlds

Vali Höll makes her mark eraly in the elite women's race

2020 UCI downhill world championships Leogang Austria Finn Iles Photo by: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

Finn Iles is sitting third after Friday’s Downhill Qualifying at 2020 UCI mountain bike world championships in Leogang, Austria. The Canadian sits 4.78 seconds back from Loris Vergier, who set the days fastest time. Reigning world champ Loïc Bruni sits second. After that, the challenging track threw plenty of favorites for a loop.

Canada’s elite riders fared well overall in the sloppy conditions, posting four times in the top 40.

2020 UCI mountain bike world championships Leogang Austria VALI HOLL
Vali Holl makes her elite debut on home turf in Austria. Photo: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

In the women’s race, Valentina Höll looked comfortable on the Leogang course, and in her first elite world champs. Höll edged out Tracey Hannah by 2.65 seconds in Qualifying.

RELATED: How to watch 2020 UCI mountain bike world championships in Canada

While Qualifying is normally a chance for riders to show their speed on course and put down a full race run, Friday’s results could become much more significant. Leogang organizers have confirmed that if Sunday’s forecasted snow makes racing unsafe, results will be taken from Qualifying time.

2020 UCI downhill world championships Leogang Austria Loic Bruni
Loic Bruni hunts for his fifth elite title in Leogang. Photo: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool
Elite Men – Bruni chases fifth elite title

The elite men’s race is looking to be another showdown between two French riders. Even with Amaury Pierron absent due to injury, the tricolour dominated the top rankings. Loris Vergier leads going into finals, but with the ominous figure of Loïc Bruni looming in second.

Finn Iles, Bruni’s Specialized teammate, is the fastest of a big group of Canadian’s looking to upset the French in the finals. After his first elite world champs top-10 last year in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Iles set a blistering pace for third-fastest time on Friday. Last year at MSA, Iles had the weight of expectations and the pressure of a home crowd on his shoulders. In a very weird 2020, the lack of any normal could work to the Canadian’s benefit. The very west coast-like conditions in Austria could also play in Iles’s favour.

2020 UCI downhill world championships Leogang Austria Finn Iles
Finn Iles fights through the mud on Friday in Austria. Photo: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

Mark Wallace is the next fastest Canuck, in 22nd after Friday. Lucas Cruz, Norco’s first-year elite, is just six spots back in 28th. Cruz missed the junior men’s podium at MSA by 0.01 seconds. The Pemberton, B.C.-based racer is already looking on form in Austria. Henry Fitzgerald is 40th after qualifying, wth Eliot Jamieson in 51st going into Sunday’s finals.

Canada’s only junior men’s entry, Seth Sherlock is 47th after Friday. The young Squamish rider already has a junior World Cup win under his belt, and will be looking for more Sunday.

The elite men’s field is so crowded that even little mistakes can push a rider well down the standings. A little mistake on this Leogang course, though, looks costly. Aaron Gwin is in 43rd after qualifying, 27 seconds back. Laurie Greenland and Brook Macdonald both DNF’d their run’s Friday, and will have to hope weather allows them a second chance Sunday.

2020 UCI downhill world championships Leogang Austria Tahnee Seagrave
Tahnee Seagrave finds herself 15 seconds back in fourth after Friday. Photo: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

Elite Women

A generational battle is brewing in the elite women’s race, one that fans have been waiting for years to see. Austrian phenom Vali Höll finally has her chance to race the elite women after a dominant junior career. On home turf, Höll wasted no time making her mark. She sets the fastest elite women’s time Friday. Only Tracey Hannah was able to ride within ten seconds of the speedy Austrian.

Myriam Nicole, the reigning world champ, qualifies third. Tahnee Seagrave is fourth, more than 15 seconds back of the fastest time.

Rachel Atherton is not contesting 2020 worlds in Austria. The long-dominant U.K. rider is still recovering from a serious Achilles injury sustained in training at Les Gets World Cup in 2019.

Downhill Qualifying Results: 2020 UCI mountain bike world championships – Leogang, Austria

Elite Men

1 VERGIER Loris FRA 3:45.479
2 BRUNI Loic FRA +1.118
3 ILES Finn CAN +4.783
4 THIRION Remi FRA +6.779
5 DAPRELA Thibaut FRA +7.335
6 MOIR Jack AUS +7.525
7 BROSNAN Troy AUS +9.538
8 WALKER Matt GBR +11.228
9 SUAREZ ALONSO Angel ESP +11.375
10 COULANGES Benoit FRA +11.462
11 FRIXTALON Hugo FRA +11.645
12 MASTERS Edward NZL +11.838
13 MINNAAR Greg RSA +11.908
14 SHAW Luca USA +12.849
15 HART Danny GBR +12.886
16 HARTENSTERN Max GER +13.834
17 KERR Bernard GBR +14.290
18 ZABJEK Jure SLO +14.805
19 TRUMMER David AUT +15.197
20 BURNS CONTRERAS Pedro CHI +15.942
21 KOLB Andreas AUT +16.449
22 WALLACE Mark CAN +16.732
23 WILLIAMSON Greg GBR +17.304
24 LUKASIK Slawomir POL +17.576
25 BOTTERAM Tristan NED +17.667
26 NORTON Dakotah USA +17.752
27 BRANNIGAN George NZL +17.810
28 CRUZ Lucas CAN +17.943
29 PIERRON Baptiste FRA +18.216
30 FISCHBACH Johannes GER +18.364
31 WEBER Basil SUI +18.461
32 DICKSON Jacob IRL +19.119
33 ROJCEK Adam SVK +20.391
34 SEHNAL Stanislav CZE +20.549
35 ESTAQUE Thomas FRA +20.908
36 MULALLY Neko USA +21.047
37 VIEIRA Roger BRA +21.334
38 KRAL Antonin CZE +21.797
39 CAROLI Jerome SUI +22.257
40 FITZGERALD Henry CAN +23.871
41 LEHMANN Hannes GER +24.067
42 NIEDERBERGER Noel SUI +24.701
43 GWIN Aaron USA +24.737
44 BERGINC Luka SLO +25.338
45 WILSON Reece GBR +25.865
46 REVELLI Loris ITA +26.319
47 A’HERN Kye AUS +26.418
48 HATTON Charlie GBR +27.169
49 KOHUT Denis SVK +27.524
50 BARANEK Rastislav SVK +28.236
51 JAMIESON Elliot CAN +29.201

Elite Women

1 HOLL Valentina AUT 4:35.662
2 HANNAH Tracey AUS +2.651
3 NICOLE Myriam FRA +14.249
4 SEAGRAVE Tahnee GBR +15.945
5 FARINA Eleonora ITA +27.866
6 BALANCHE Camille SUI +32.277
7 CABIROU Marine FRA +35.548
8 HRASTNIK Monika SLO +36.843
9 HOFFMANN Nina GER +39.916
10 DELEST Agnes FRA +40.797
11 KOREM Noga ISR +42.722
12 RICHTER Raphaela GER +48.812
13 PARTON Mikayla GBR +1:03.621
14 HAYDEN Mazie USA +1:10.680
15 NEISSL Marlena AUT +1:21.416
16 CHERECHES Luana-Maria ROU +1:32.198
17 NEWKIRK Anna USA +1:33.072
18 RUBESAM Sandra GER +1:34.900
19 FISHER Stacey GBR +1:37.858
20 ATKINSON Maya GBR +1:39.106

Junior Men

1 STERLING Matthew USA 4:04.626
2 CUMMING Christopher IRL +6.423
3 BANDEIRA Goncalo POR +6.529
4 GAILLET Louis FRA +7.014
5 SLACK Daniel GBR +7.118
6 GRICE Christopher USA +7.200
7 MEIER-SMITH Luke AUS +8.858
8 O CALLAGHAN Oisin IRL +9.315
9 GRANDJEAN Matheo FRA +9.848
10 REIS Nuno POR +10.232
41 SHERLOCK Seth CAN +47.121

Junior Women