Team CRC Mavic rider Elliott Heap raced at the Leogang World Cup over the weekend. Nigel Page, team manager, was there to bring us this report:
The third round of the UCI Downhill World Cup took us to the beautiful town of Leogang in Austria, which has got to be one of the most stunning places in the world, with huge mountains and amazing meadows on both sides of the valley.
The track here in Leogang is always a bit controversial and this year was no different. It’s quite different to most other world cup tracks in that it is mainly a man made track – very fast and not too difficult, but the challenge is riding the track at world cup race pace and this year the track was super dry and faster than ever. Some riders seem to love the high speed track and some riders hate it. Horses for courses, I guess.
This year the track came into the very high speed finish area straighter than normal and into a huge 60’+ finish line jump which was a bit of a step down so the landing was blind until the riders took off. Add to this unpredictable gusts of wind and it was inevitable that some riders would have some big crashes. Unfortunately this was the case and French pinner and top world cup rider Remi Thirion hit the jump at warp speed in his qualifying run and went way too big, over jumped and nose dived into the ground in one of the most horrific crashes ever. There was a big course hold as Remi was airlifted off to hospital. Heal up soon Remi.
Elliott the lone rider
This week was the first time ever the team has only had one rider as Mike Jones is still out with his wrist injury and Sam Hill has gone home in preparation for the next Enduro World Series round in two weeks’ time.
Young Elliott Heap was our only rider and he must have been feeling the pressure a little, even though there wasn’t any on him from a team point of view. At this stage in his career we don’t expect him to be challenging for the podium positions.
After last week in Fort William where Elliott had a big crash in qualifying and not making the final top 80 race, this was also playing on Elliott’s mind a little, but the young lad from Wigan rode great and handled it all pretty well in my opinion.
In practice Elliott looked good and took his time learning the track and then it was time for qualifying on Saturday. Elliott made a small mistake on the first tricky rutted corner and then pushed hard making another mistake with a small slide out but managed to finish 73rd in the qualification round in a super fast race where the times are so close. So it was a bit of a nervous wait until the last riders finished their qualification runs but first or 73rd as long as you’re in the top 80 that gives you a spot in the finals race for Sunday.
We decided to give the orange Schwalbe Addix tyre a go on the back of Elliott’s bike for practice – this tyre has the soft side knobs for grip but a harder faster rolling compound in the middle – which we thought may give him a bit more speed on the long fast motorway section.
Elliott had a good run in the finals and pushed hard going six seconds faster than his quali time and hitting his goal of a time under 3.20 with a 3.19 so good work mate. There were so many riders on and around that time though and it was good enough for a 53rd position at the end of the race. Not a bad result at all for his third elite world cup.
Gwin dominant, Tahnee takes long overdue win
The race was super exciting down to the last rider down with very close times due to the nature of this track and Loris Vergier from France held the lead with a scorching time right up until the last man down and fastest qualifier Aaron Gwin from the USA. Aaron has won this race the last two years, once with a snapped chain out of the gate and he didn’t disappoint with a show of amazing bike riding, pure determination and commitment and crossing the line nearly two seconds faster than Loris’ time on his 27.5″ wheeled bike, proving that 27.5 or 29″ wheels, it’s still the rider that counts. Well done Aaron for your third consecutive win in Leogang.
Also a big shout out to Tahnee Seagrave and her family, with Tahnee taking her long overdue first world cup win! Amazing stuff T.
Thanks to Jacy for the spannering and driving, Fraser for the photos and TJ for the rad edits and all our sponsors for the continued support.