Race Recap: Leogang delivers an electrifying World Cup season opener

Switzerland’s Camille Balanche and Australia’s Troy Brosnan came out on top as the 2021 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup downhill season kicked off in style at Leogang in Austria today.

Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021
Finn Iles sets up the scrub. P14 for the Canadian today.

The 2.2km long track has 469m of vertical drop with top speeds of around 65km. After a long week of practice in wet and muddy conditions, the skies cleared and the speeds increased for race day. These drier conditions contributed to what was one of the most exhilarating World Cups in recent times. Although nothing like the conditions of the 2020 MTB World Championships in Leogang, the infamous woods section remained the crunch point. It was a case of smooth and easy would get you through safely but these days World Cup’s are seldom won with that approach

Elite Women

In the women’s race, Balanche did the rainbow stripes proud with a tidy but quick run to win her first-ever World Cup race and prove that her 2020 World Championships victory was much more than luck. Balanche’s run bumped Monica Hrastnik off the hot seat after the Slovenian rider, who claimed bronze at the Worlds last year, once again showed her attacking style and increasing consistency. Reigning World Cup champion Marine Cabirou had a huge nosedive over the jumps, then a series of mistakes in the woods section while compatriot Myriam Nicole had a similarly chaotic run with two crashes. Leogang local Vali Höll was the last woman down and she flew through the motorway sector as well as navigating the tricky woods, only to crash on the final corner to slip second behind winner Balanche.

Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021
Monika Hrastnik with a clean run into the hot seat and P3 for the day.
Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021
An in form Tahnee Seagrave had a couple of costly stalls in the woods section (after some good splits at the top) and ended in P5.
Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021
P4 for the French flyer Marine Cabirou who would have wanted a cleaner run through the woods.
Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021
Race winner: “I had a really, really good run and I could keep my foot on the pedals the whole run. I knew Vali was really fast and I guess I was lucky that she crashed. I had a really good feeling in training. I was so confident coming to Leogang because I love this track.” – Camille Balanche
Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021
The first of two crashes for Myriam Nicole today who took P8 some 13 seconds down.
Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021
It was almost a dream debut for the 19-year-old Vali Holl who threw the win away in the last turn. She remounted for P2 – less than 2 seconds back.
Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021
“It is my first elite World Cup so second is sick, but I messed it up so bad in the last corner before the finish. Maybe it is a good sign and I need to wait a bit. I am just going to work harder and harder until it is done.” – Vali Holl
Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021
Champagne for everyone! On a sidenote: of the top 5 women only 2 were on carbon bikes and the majority if not all were mullets.

Results: Elite Women

1. Camille Balanche SUI 4:07.850
2. Valentina Höll AUT +1.412
3. Monika Hrastnik SLO +1.471
4. Marine Cabirou FRA +5.878
5. Tahnée Seagrave GBR +8.680

1. Camille Balanche SUI 220 points
2. Valentina Höll AUT 210
3. Monika Hrastnik SLO 156
4. Marine Cabirou FRA 155
5. Tahnée Seagrave GBR 122

Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021

Elite Men

The course was drying quickly and the elite men faced an unknown beast after the women’s race with conditions drier than at any point in the week. A strong wind on the open top section compounded the difficulty. On his return to World Cup racing after nearly two years sidelined by injury, 2018 World Cup champion Amaury Pierron of France was solid through the first splits but sensational into the woods section. South Africa’s Greg Minnaar was as clinical as ever in the first half of the track but then seemed unsettled and rode a lot of the lower section uncleated. 2020 World Champion Reece Wilson returned to the scene of his triumph with confidence and made it count with a super clean run that fell just short of Pierron as Benoit Coulanges moved into third. France’s Thibaut Dapréla turned the splits green finally and, despite a massive stall that put him 0.131 down at split four, he threw everything at the final sectors with insane energy to go fastest. Brosnan recovered from a nervous start to build momentum in the woods section and turned on the speed in the final sector to edge out Dapréla for his first World Cup victory since 2017.

Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021
Fresh from the Darkfest in Stellenbosch, the sylish Kade Edwards snuck into an impressive 21st place, 5 seconds back.
Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021
Riding with a broken heel Bruni minimized his losses with a solid 8th place in the final.
Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021
Brook Macdonald is back! Jamming hard on the pedals up top, hucking onto the wooden berm and carrying pace. If it wasn’t for a last turn crash (both of them) he might have been inside the top 5. Remarkable considering what he has been through in the last year. P52 in the end.
Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021
P3 for Pierron. Another man back from a horrendous injury Amaury Pierron was charging on the limit and sat in the hotseat for ages. “Nearly two years since my last World Cup – today I just said to myself, youre doing what you love. Im happy to be back.” – Amaury
Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021
22nd today for the American Maestro Aaron Gwin.
Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021
With a clean run into the hotseat Laurie said: “Wasn’t my best work. I rode clean. But too far away from the edge. It was really hard today.” P7 for Laurie.
Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021
P2 from the most electrifying run of the day was surely Thibaut Daprela’s. Full pin.
Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021
“I did a good top section and then I jumped the wrong jump. In the woods, I was so fast but (it wasn’t enough). I am still young, so it is not bad to be second.” – Thibaut Daprela
A 1-1 result for the weekend means Troy leaves Leogang with maximum points. It could not have been a better start to the season for the 27-year-old Aussie. “It was so dry and the wind was insane at the top.” – Troy
Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021
Picture perfect form through the top section for Troy.
Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021
TB charged every inch of the track.
Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021
Top 5 men – only one of them rode a carbon bike and most of them were on mullets.

Results: Elite Men

1. Troy Brosnan AUS 3:26.019
2. Thibaut Dapréla FRA +1.235
3. Amaury Pierron FRA +1.478
4. Reece Wilson GBR +1.898
5. Benoit Coulanges FRA +2.234

1. Troy Brosnan AUS 250 points
2. Thibaut Dapréla FRA 190
3. Amaury Pierron FRA 140
4. Reece Wilson GBR 137
5. Danny Hart GBR 135

Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021
Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021
Leogang World Cup downhill results 2021

Stay tuned for round two in Les Gets, France, three weeks from today.

| Credits: Sven Martin & Red Bull & Facebook |

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