Four-time world champion Rachel Atherton once again demonstrated the powers of perseverance as she claimed her first UCI Mountain Bike World Cup win of the season while teammate Laurie Greenland took an impressive third in the men’s elite race.
Trek Factory Racing DH rider Atherton has had to overcome her fair share of back luck in recent weeks, battling to third in the second round of racing last weekend despite her chain snapping early in her run and suffering a crash in the latter stages.
And her troubles appeared to continue in Leogang, Austria this weekend as she crashed in Saturday’s qualifying round, getting her bike stuck on a pole in the process and adding valuable time.
But the Brit put it all behind her in Sunday’s final, laying down a storming run of 3:41.141 that none of her rivals managed to beat.
Teammate and last year’s winner Tahnee Seagrave clocked the third fastest time, but she was later disqualified for a race infringement.
The British success continued in the elite men’s race as Greenland demonstrated his increasing talent by coming third for his best result of the season.
Atherton back on top as Seagrave comes unstuck
High on confidence after last weekend’s win at Fort William, Seagrave (Transition Bikes/Muc-Off Factory Racing) looked like being the one to beat once again, qualifying fastest from Saturday while teammate Atherton felt the impact of a crash.
But the latter brought her A game to Sunday’s race, completing the course six seconds faster than Seagrave’s qualifying time to take an early lead.
French World Cup leader Myriam Nicole was in touch across the opening three splits as she looked to challenge Atherton but she lost time at the back end and could only go second fastest in 3:41.779.
Other riders tried and failed to better Atherton with only Seagrave left to go.
But she was off the pace of her teammate, initially clocking the third fastest time before being disqualified after overshooting jump, leaving the track and then re-entering on the other side of the course marker pole.
That meant Australia’s Hannah Tracey placed third for Polygon UR while Brit Katy Curd was seventh, in a time of 3:56.154.
Greenland makes a statement
MS Mondraker Team rider Laurie Greenland was almost two seconds off the pace of Luca Shaw in Saturday’s qualifying.
But the young rider shot up the leaderboard in the final, knocking over five seconds off his qualifying time to claim a top-three finish.
American Aaron Gwin was chasing a record fourth consecutive win on one venue and, despite riding with an injured thumb, clocked 3:11.499.
Greenland attempted to beat it, flying down the course before eventually finishing just 0.6 seconds backbut with several riders still to go.
It proved to be a tense wait, especially when last weekend’s winner Amaury Pierron kept the clock in the green to go into the lead, leaving just two riders to go.
But Brook MacDonald and Luca Shaw could not deliver the goods, leaving Greenland to take a well-deserved third place.
Michael Jones (MS Mondraker Team) and Danny Hart (Madison Saracen Factory Team) were eighth and 12th respectively as the second and third best performing Brits.
While in the men’s junior race, Henry Kerr (Propain Dirt Sixpack) placed third ahead of Kade Edwards (Trek Factory Racing DH) and Jamie Edmondson (Transition Bikes/Muc-Off Factory Racing).