French downhill domination and unexpected upsets in Leogang

Mark Wallace top Canadian finisher at Austrian World Cup

June 9th, 2019 by | Posted in MTB | Tags: ,

Loic Bruni lay down a perfect run in the dust of Leogang on Sunday, winning his second World Cup downhill of the season. In the women’s race, Tracey Hannah landed her fourth-ever World Cup win.

Men’s race – Minnaar returns but Bruni best

Loic Bruni set a blazing fast time in Leogang, putting three seconds into the previous hot-seat Charlie Harrison (Trek Facotry Racing). The three-time world champion moved into the lead with 10 riders remaining on course.

Loic Bruni racing at the UCI DH World Cup in Leogang, Austria. Photo: Stefan Voitl/Red Bull Content Pool

Troy Brosnan (Canyon Factory Racing) was the next to challenge Bruni. While the series leader going into was never in the green, he did pull back time on his way down the course. It wasn’t enough though, and Bruni would finish third in Leogang.

Last man down the mountain was Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate). The South African legend was chasing his 22nd career World Cup victory. In touch the whole way down the mountain, Minnaar finished 0.324 behind Bruni for second. After a 2018 season plagued by injury, the result is an incredible return to form for one of the longest reigning racers on the World Cup circuit.

Holding off Minnaar, Bruni earned his second World Cup win of 2019, and fourth career World Cup victory.

With his third place in Leogang, Troy Brosnan holds onto the World Cup leaders jersey by just 5 points. Bruni closes in on what would be his first ever series overall title.

Incredibly, Bruni’s win makes for eight French wins in the last 10 World Cup races.

Mark Wallace (Canyon Factory Racing) was the top Canadian in Leogang, finishing 11th. Finn Iles (Specialized Gravity Racing) couldn’t match the magic of his teammate Bruni. After struggling in the opening section, Iles clawed back time to finish 34th.

Kirk McDowall (Unior / Devinci Factory Racing) had a solid result in Austria, finishing 37th, just 0.35 seconds behind Iles. Magnus Manson (Canyon Factory Racing) joined the many riders crashing in the opening section, finishing 60th overall.

Women’s race – Hannah takes the lead

The southern hemisphere dominated in the women’s finals, with Kate Weatherly (NZ) and Tracey Hannah (Aus.) both finishing on the podium in Leogang.

Weatherly was early in the startlist, leaving her sitting in the hot seat until the third last rider on track. It was Germany’s Nina Hoffmann, on a custom Juliana V10, who finally unseated the Kiwi. Hoffmann, riding with confidence after her third place in Fort William a weekend earlier, set a blazing fast time down the short, Austrian track.

Before the camera’s could get back to the top of the course, Rachel Atherton (Atherton Racing) had crashed on the opening dusty, loose off camber section. While she appeared uninjured, Atherton had lost nearly 20 second in the crash. With only Tracey Hannah (Polygon UR) left at the top of the mountain, Hoffmann moved into second, for a second straight career-best World Cup finish.

Tracey Hannah racing to the win at the UCI DH World Cup in Leogang, Austria. Photo: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

It was Tracey Hannah’s day, though. The Australian was ahead at every intermediate split and sent the final finish line jump almost to flat, as Amaury Pierron had a week earlier, to take the win in Leogang.

It’s Hannah’s fourth World Cup win, but clearly meant alot to the Australian. Leogang was the first time Hannah had won a World Cup against the dominant Rachel Atherton. On the finish line, an emotional Hannah said:

“I finally got the chance to be strong enough and fit enough to give her a run for her money and that means more to me than the world cup win alone, is racing against her and being able to win”

Hannah’s win in Leogang, and Atherton’s low finish, puts the Australian back in the World Cup leader’s jersey. She now enjoys a 150 point lead over Atherton in second. Nina Hoffmann sits third, just another 25 points behind.

Racers will now have a month to recover before World Cup downhill picks up again in Vallnord, Andorra on July 5-7.