WC #3 // Leogang 

This weekend the World Cup Circus picked up it’s tools once again - this time, to take on round #3 of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, in Leogang, Austria. Nestled in the Salzburg mountains, Leogang has become a staple of the circuit and has many a tale to tell. 

Track walk day was met with bright sunshine and a dry track, but things were about to change.. 

An overnight deluge quickly turned the track into an everchanging war zone - full of roots, holes, and ruts, leading to a puzzling first day of practice. THE woods were just as challenging as before, and would require every inch of bike skill available for successful passage through them. 

As qualifying day arrived, the Dorval AM Commencal Team came out swinging, placing their intentions on paper, with both Camille Balanche and Benoit Coulanges topping the Elite qualifying results - a first in Benoit’s career.  

In the Junior categories, FMD’s Phoebe Gale grabbed her first win of the season, while The Union’s Lachie Stevens-Mcnab grabbed his first podium of the year, with a 3rd place finish. After qualifying first, Jackson Goldstone crashed in the upper section, and amazingly fought his way back to a second place finish - a tough day for the Syndicate rider but the battle will continue. 

Three in a row! Camille Balanche put together a seemingly perfect run on the drying track to take her second win of the season, and third Leogang victory in as many years. Camille now holds more than 100 points in the overall championship over her nearest competitor. 

Laurie Greenland was carrying his Fort William momentum into Leogang and appeared ready for something special. When the first split flashed green, a whopping 3 seconds up, the Syndicate contingent at the finish line errupted - their new recruit was truly on a flyer. Just a minute later the second split flashed red - what had happened? Greenland looked perfect throughout, but later revealed he’d crashed in the second sector going across a set of rollers. Laurie’s time is coming, that is for sure. 

Atherton Racing’s Andreas Kolb returned to racing in Leogang after a recently broken elbow - and in his home country of Austria, earned his first career podium finish, in an impressive 5th place. 

Spanish National Champion Angel Suarez came down earlier than the top competitors and put down an incredible run, earning himself a long stint in the hot seat and an eventual 3rd place. 

After some time away from the podium over recent years, Danny Hart fought his way back this weekend, finishing in 2nd place and climbing to 3rd in the overall championship. 

Last man down, the finish arena watched in anticipation to see if Benoit Coulanges could take his first World Cup win. His splits flashed green and his dream was insight, was this finally it? Pushing hard in the woods, a simple mistake unraveled his plan and a crash brought an end to the party. Benoit's speed is undeniable, and this weekend he proved he has what it takes to not just  podium, but to win. 

As another Leogang comes to a close, some riders will head to Crankworx, some to the EWS, and some back to the drawing board. Lenzerheide World Cup, taking place in early July, can’t come soon enough. 

Images // Sven Martin

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