Finnley Iles © Fraser Britton
June 12, 2017 (Leogang, Austria) – Canada’s Finnley Iles (Specialized Gravity) upped the ante over last year winning the Junior Men’s race here at round #3 of the UCI MTB World Cup DH in Leogang, Austria.
Tahnee Seagrave © Fraser Britton
British rider Tahnee Seagrave (Transition Bikes / FMD Factory Racing) was all smiles as well taking home her first World Cup win in the Elite women’s race. Capping the weekend off was the USA’s Aaron Gwin (USA) The YT Mob, who made the hat-trick winning his third consecutive Elite Men’s World Cup at Leogang.
Aaron Gwin © Fraser Britton
After a hot, sunny week in Austria, the semi-controversial track in Leogang was rock hard, and covered in loose dirt over hardback making it treacherous to try and carry speed. Earlier in the week one rider was taken away with a broken femur, and Commencal / Vallnord rider, Remi Therion from France (ranked 10th), was rushed to hospital during qualifying in a helicopter after crashing over the last jump on track, which riders sped into at 70+ km/hr.
The Frenchman was diagnosed with a broken collarbone, three broken ribs and two fractured vertebrae. Considering the size of the jump and the impact he took, things could have been much worse. Everyone is hoping to see Therion back on his bike by the end of the race season, which according to his team seems plausible.
Finnley Iles © Fraser Britton
The Junior riders kicked things off with Paula Zibasa (Latvia) taking the win over France’s Melanie Chappaz (Dorval AM Nicolai) who leads overall, and Alessia Missiaggia (Ita) GT Factory Racing placing third.
Canada’s Iles blazed to victory in the Junior Men’s race besting Matt Walker (Madison Saracen), who won at Round 2 in Fort William, Scotland, with Kade Edwards (Gbr) Trek Factory Racing DH landing third on the podium. Iles continues to lead the series with Walker second and Edwards third.
Elite Women's podium (l-r) Carpenter 4th, Hannah 2nd, Seagrave 1st, Nicole 3rd, Siegenthaler 5th © Fraser Britton
For the women, it was British rider Tahnee Seagrave getting her first World Cup win. After years of racing, it came as a relief to the young lady, after having had so many seconds. “This is a relief. Ive said it so many times today. I feel like I’ve been trying so hard for so long and had so many seconds its really nice. So many different views on this track. The UCI have done a top job here listening to the riders. Its nice that everyone is working together. I really like the track after it started to get ridden in. Everyone was having so much fun I only saw smiles.”
It was an emotional day for British rider Seagrave nailing her first World Cup victory. Following years of racing, it came as a relief to the young athlete, after having been second on many occasions.
“This is a relief. I’ve said it so many times today. I feel like I’ve been trying so hard for so long and had so many seconds it’s really nice. So many different views on this track. The UCI have done a top job here listening to the riders. Its nice that everyone is working together. I really like the track after it started to get ridden in. Everyone was having so much fun I only saw smiles,” shared the winner.
Vaea Verbeeck © Fraser Britton
Seagrave pipped Tracey Hannah (Aus) in second and Myriam Nicole (Fra) for the win. Canada’s Vaea Verbeek finished 14th on the day while fellow Canuck Miranda Miller (Specialized) is still out with an injury.
Elite Men's podium (l-r) Brosnan 4th, Vergier 2nd, Gwin 1st, Minnaar 3rd, Kerr 5th © Fraser Britton
Gwin was ecstatic after his third win here in as many years. The American spoke shortly after his podium. “I love coming here. It’s become my favourite race, and it feels like home for me, even though it’s super far from home. I’m very happy. I’ve had history with this track – some up races and down races – and it’s been a huge for my career. Lots of wins here and a lot of really great memories. I’m glad to build on it. I’m stoked we were able to get the victory today.”
Mark Wallace © Fraser Britton
The American was joined on the podium by Greg Minnaar (RSA) in Second and Loris Vergier of France in 3rd. Canada’s Mark Wallace (Canyon) finished 27th, Kirk McDowall (Dunbar Cycles), reigning Canadian champ, was 48th and Forrest Riesco was 61st.
Kirk McDowall © Fraser Britton
Forrest Riesco © Fraser Britton