Sabrina Jonnier and Greg Minnaar win the 3rd round in Leogang
The UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup Leogang was dominated by Greg Minnaar and Sabrina Jonnier. The men’s top 3 was completed by Gee Atherton (2nd place) and Aaron Gwin (3rd place). The fastest women were all from France: Jonnier first, Emmeline Ragot second and Floriane Pugin third. The challenging forest sections of the track weren’t easy to handle, but the riders showed a great performance. Over 8,000 spectators made their way to Leogang’s first UCI Mountain Bike World Cup event. Especially during the downhill finals the fans were cheering for the athletes as much as possible.
The pros had only two days of training on Bikepark Leogang’s Speedster track that is 2,600 metres long and features a height difference of 836 meters. Not an easy job for the riders to get used to a track that has not been part of the World Cup circus before. But at least all the 276 pro riders from 31 countries had the same training conditions for the qualification round on Saturday. Samuel Blenkinsop was the fastest one to cross the finish line in the seeding runs. Followed by Greg Minnaar and Aaron Gwin. Rachel Atherton was the fastest girl in front of Emmeline Ragot and Tracy Moseley.
On Sunday midday, the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Leogang downhill finals started with the women: Jonnier set a great a time with 4:52.70 minutes. Moseley started their run quite well, but lost a few seconds in the beginning of the last forest section and ended with 5:02.39 minutes. Ragot lost time already in the first third of the track and seemed to get weaker in the last section, but finished with a gap of 3.54 seconds to Jonnier, which meant second place for her. Then, all eyes were on Rachel Atherton who was the last woman to go, but unfortunately she crashed in the last section and was not able to finish the race.
The final Top 10 results:
1st Sabrina Jonnier (FRA/4:52.70)
2nd Emmeline Ragot (FRA/4:56.24)
3rd Floriane Pugin (FRA/4:58.05)
4th Tracy Moseley (GBR/5:02.39)
5th Myriam Nicole (FRA/5:05.48)
6th Céline Gros (FRA/5:10.91)
7th Claire Buchar (CAN/5:12.72)
8th Manon Carpenter (GBR/5:13.20)
9th Petra Bernhard (AUT/5:13.62)
10th Micayla Gatto (CAN/5:28.69)
After the women, the men’s finals were on and everybody was waiting full of excitement for the world’s fastest riders to come down the mountain. Steve Peat, who had qualified only 34th due to a crash, set the benchmark to beat with 4:11.82 minutes. He was meant to sit in the hot seat for a long time. But it was Cameron Cole from New Zealand to beat Peaty’s time by only 0.05 seconds.
A preview for the hot action to be expected in the following runs: Brendan Fairclough rode slightly faster than Peaty and Cole in the third split, but lost time at the very end and finished on third position at this stage. The expectations were high when Gee shot out of the start gate, riding as smooth as it could be. Gee was in the first split already 2.5 seconds faster, then over 5 seconds in the second split, and could keep that gap until the finish line.
Matti Lehikoinen couldn’t change anything on the actual ranking, finishing with 4:13.25 minutes. But the Top 3 of the qualifying were still up to come: Aaron Gwin, Greg Minnaar and Samuel Blenkinsop.
Gwin could carry good speed through the whole course hitting the finish line after 4:10.09 minutes, placing directly behind Gee. But Minnaar proved to be an amazing mud rider finishing in 4:05.65 minutes, beating Gee with 0.74 seconds and sitting down on the hot seat. There was only one more competitor to beat his time, the Kiwi Samuel Blenkinsop. But Sam slipped his pedal twice in the middle section and ended up with 4:11.17 minutes on fourth place at the end:
1st Greg Minnaar (RSA/4:05.65)
2nd Gee Atherton (GBR/4:06.39)
3rd Aaron Gwin (USA/4:10.09)
4th Samuel Blenkinsop (NZL/4:11.17)
5th Cameron Cole (NZL/4:11.77)
6th Steve Peat (GBR/4:11.82)
7th Brendan Fairclough (GBR/4:12.61)
8th Justin Leov (NZL/4:12.93)
9th Matti Lehikoinen (FIN/4:13.25)
10th Mathew Simmonds (GBR/4:13.82)
Watch out for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Leogang 2011 from June 10th to 12th. Leogang Saalfelden and the Bikepark Leogang is looking forward to welcome you in the SalzburgerLand.
The official UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Leogang website www.mtb-worldcup.at features all the information related to the event and the side program.
Photos by Victor Lucas, courtesy of mtb-weltcup.at