Leogang has become a much-loved annual stop for the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup and World Championships circuit since its first outing on the international calendar in 2010.
The Austrian Alps bike park’s course is relatively straightforward (well, until the World Champs 2020) by World Cup standards, but it’s also one of the fastest courses of the year and throws a slice of just about everything at racers. There's natural and man-made technical tests, massive jumps, off-camber and roller-coaster-quick bermed turns – and all are linked together at warp speed.
Leogang’s list of winners reads like a who’s who of recent World Cup downhill history: Aaron Gwin lays claim to the title of winningest here with four victories; Rachel Atherton has three to her name; Greg Minnaar two; and a host of other stars have one each. Some of those wins stand out as timeless and singular – and we've rounded up the best of the bunch below.
1. Stevie Smith storms towards a World Cup title: 2013
Extended DH highlights from Leogang
The late, great Stevie Smith was one of the most powerful and talented riders downhill has ever known. As far as Canadian racers went, he was leading the charge for a new crop of top-tier athletes. In 2013, the World Cup finale was held in Leogang and Smith needed a solid result to win the series.
Never one to do things by halves, Smith destroyed the competition, taking the race win and Canada’s first-ever World Cup overall title (watch his run in the video player above, which starts at 22:45). His celebration as he crossed the finish line – bike thrown aside as though featherweight – has to go down as one of the most emphatic ever.
2. Aaron Gwin wins without a chain: 2015
Aaron Gwin's winning DH run – Leogang
Probably the most memorable Leogang win is Aaron Gwin’s chainless run from 2015. The American snapped his chain putting in a power stroke out of the start gate and his chances seemed doomed from the outset. But, combining pure determination and godly bike skills, Gwin was able to do the unimaginable and take one of his most mind-bending wins ever, much to the bemusement of Red Bull commentators Rob Warner and Claudio Caluori.
3. A first World Cup win for Tahnée Seagrave: 2017
Tahnée Seagrave's winning run – Leogang
Tahnée Seagrave had been knocking on the door of a World Cup win for a few years before this maiden victory in Leogang. In the proceeding two seasons, she finished second in Austria. Going down second from last in 2017, Seagrave took risks where she had to and was rewarded with a time that was over two seconds faster than previous hot seat incumbent Myriam Nicole. Seagrave nervously watched fastest qualifier Tracey Hannah go down the hill from the finish area and thought victory was going to be taken from her, with the Australian rider ahead of her time on one time sector.
But when Hannah crossed the finished line she was 0.693 seconds slower than Seagrave. Huge celebrations followed for the Brit among her team and family members. The floodgates opened after this victory with Seagrave going on to win in Mont-Sainte-Anne and Val di Sole in the same year.
4. Tracey Hannah takes the top step: 2019
Tracey Hannah's winning DH run – Leogang
Hannah’s Leogang 2019 win wasn’t surprising in itself – we’re talking about one of the fastest women ever to ride a downhill bike – but it was one of a string of incredible performances throughout the season. Hannah was never out of the top five in the eight-race series and was in the top three at all but one event. In Leogang, the Australian showed that with her consistency came ferocious speed and she powered down the course to take the win on her way to an eventual series title.
5. Reece Wilson's and Camille Balanche’s heroic World Championships runs: 2020
DH winning runs – Leogang
In 2020, Leogang hosted the mountain bike World Championships for the second time. The course builders had progressively shaped and improved the track over the years, but for this event they went back to the drawing board, diving into a dark, steep-wooded section that became cut-up, tree-root-infested and almost impossible to ride in the mud-bath conditions of the race.
Reece Wilson and Camille Balanche were the masters of the course, both putting in impressively clean and fast runs on a day when the best of the rest were shown the floor as they failed one after the other to make it down the hill without crashing – often multiple times in a single run. The race winners go down in history as having conquered perhaps the hardest ever World Championships track.
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