7 talking points from the Leogang cross-country World Cup
The Austrian Alps were the venue for the third round of the UCI Mountain Bike Cross-Country World Cup. Get the highlights and watch the race action here.
Austria hosted the third round of the UCI Cross-Country World Cup at Leogang. The new stop on the XCO World Cup circuit boasted a draining, steep course that suited the climbers. Recap on all the action in the links below and scroll down for highlights from the weekend.
Replay the XCO action from Leogang:
Alternatively you can watch the highlights package from Leogang presented by Lauren Smith in the player above.
There were two new XCC winners
XC short track race recap – Leogang
Both Loana Lecomte and Mathias Flückiger took their very first XCC wins on a short track course in Leogang that was unlike any other, with the long climb favouring good climbers.
First time for the XCO World Cup in Leogang
XCO track explanation with Laura Stigger
Situated in the Austrian Alps, the Leogang course boasted hard, long and steep climbs. Some riders experienced the track in its debut at the 2020 World Championships, but this was the first time Leogang hosted an XCO World Cup event. A climbers course, it was a very different track from the two rounds that preceded it. Frequent summer storms resulted in the woods sections being very slippery, catching several riders out, but a windy and sunny race day helped dry up the more exposed sections of track.
Vlad Dascălu comes of age with a podium
As a former U23 World Champion and winner of the overall U23 World Cup, a lot was expected from Vlad Dascălu as he stepped into the senior ranks. It's taken some time for the Romanian to get used to Elite level, but slowly and surely, he’s putting in performances that show his obvious ability.
All the hard work paid off today! Stoked with my first ever Elite World Cup podium. Can't thank enough all the people who always believe in me and help me to do my best
The high point so far came in Leogang, with Dascălu claiming fifth place. He was unlucky not to get fourth, too, having just lost out in a sprint with Thomas Griot of France. Dascălu steadily worked his way up from being 17th at the end of the first lap and got stronger as the race went on.
All the women's action was in the fight for second
Sealing a hat-trick of XCO wins from the three World Cups so far, Loana Lecomte really is proving to be an unstoppable force in the women's cross-country scene. The young French rider built a lead from lap one and forced the rest of the field to play catch up.
There was no need for Lecomte to even look back over her shoulder as her advance wasn't matched by anyone in the field. Lecomte displayed dominance on every part of the track.
A valiant effort from Austrian local favourite Laura Stigger kept her in touch for much of the race and it was only towards the very end that Jenny Rissveds took the reins. Sprinting to the line, the Swede took second, with Stigger securing her best elite XCO finish in third, It was a welcome return to the podium for Jolanda Neff in fourth, while Pauline Ferrand-Prévot rounded off the rostrum in fifth place.
Fans were back
The sound of noisemakers and cheering was a welcome return as a limited number of spectators were allowed to attend the race in Leogang – the first time this year that the UCI cohort have felt the energy of the fans. Speaking after the race, Stigger noted how great it was to have support on home soil: "It's amazing to have spectators again and there's a lot of people from my home cheering me. It gives you so much extra motivation."
Struggles for Nino Schurter
10th place is under my expectations and I need to be patient at the moment and trust my capabilities. At least my last lap times were good
The Swiss star slipped his pedals at the start of the XCC race on Friday, which put him at the back of the field, from where he finished 29th. This meant for the main race he had to start from the fourth row. A good start on the opening loop might have set him up for the race, but he was stuck behind other riders and was only 16th at the end of lap one. From there he wasn't able to move up the field in the following laps, with his lap times disappointing. His fastest lap actually came on the last lap, which pulled him up to 10th at the finish.
Battle of the climbers in the men's race
As mentioned, the Leogang cross-country course featured some serious climbs, probably the longest on the World Cup circuit. They weren't particularly technical, but they did suit riders who could sustain long efforts while ascending. The Czech, Ondřej Cink, was one such rider as he was chosen by a professional road team to ride the Tour de France for that ability. Mathias Flückiger also had form on these type of courses.
The opening laps saw both riders take to the front of the race and, along with Anton Cooper, they were clear of the field. However, Cooper soon dropped off, leaving the battle for the race win between Cink and Flückiger. The elastic between the two was finally broken in the penultimate lap, with Flückiger proving the strongest.