World Champs Preview - Leogang 2012

Aug 28, 2012
by Colin Meagher  

Not a whole lot to report on Leogang, other than some track changes and a few absences. First off… the DH track.

In 2010, the first year Leogang stepped up to the World Cup Circuit, it was widely regarded as an “old school” track. The trails being used were converted bike park trails and had been ridden hard. Like really hard. It was all about big berms in the open, a bunch of bike park (i.e. short) tables on a fire road linking the berms and the woods, and what single track there was in the woods was worn down to arm-thick roots and load of rocks. But mostly roots.

Flash forward to now. Not much has changed. Like an aging actress, there’s been a nip here and tuck there but she’s still berms at the top and woods below linked with a table top strewn ‘motorway’. So, basically business as usual. However, the tables have all been artificially ‘lengthened’ with wooden booters placed in front of them, which will allow riders to carry more speed as now they can clear to transition and pump vs. landing flat. The old rock strewn double-droppish section lined with safety netting has been replaced with a couple big turns, too. But that’s the sum total of the course changes.

Riders to watch: in the men…not Danny Hart; safe to say that unless you’ve been living under a rock, Hart’s shoulder injury and subsequent season ending surgery is old news. Other than Hart, all the usual suspects should be in attendance: Gwin, Gee Atherton, Minnaar, Hill, Steve Smith, Brook Macdonald… you know—literally, the usual suspects. Gwin won here last year during the World Cup… But Minnaar took the IXS Cup here this past May… And Steve Smith is on a roll following the Whistler Crankworx (notching dominating W’s in the Garbanzo DH, Air DH, and Canadian Open DH). Even though Minnaar, Smith, Bulldog, and Hill are all legit threats, given how dominating Gwin’s been all year, only a fool would bet against the American.

The race that’s gonna be a knock down drag out will be the Junior DH title: Loic Bruni’s been dominating all season, so in some ways this is his race to lose; but Richey Rude has been right behind him all season long. Leogang’s got some pedaling sections to it, so if Bruni falters at all, Rude’s going to be stepping into rainbow sleeves.

For the ladies, a few faces are missing: namely Tracy Hannah (broken femur at Val d”Isere), Myriam Nicole (broken collarbone at Crankworx Whistler), Emilie Siegenthaler (Scott 11—also a collarbone), and Jill Kintner (broken arm at Windham; she may have raced the pump track at Whistler Crankworx, but she’s not cleared to ride DH yet). Contenders, then: Florian Pugin took this race last year, and Rachel Atherton took it during the IXS Cup before Val di Sole… On both occasions Emmeline Ragot was also on the podium. Hmmm… Pugin is coming off of some tough luck at Mt St Anne and Windham, and the time off may have her a bit rusty. And as much as I’d like to see Ragot duke it out with Atherton, Ragot is coming off of a sore shoulder and may not be full strength, whereas Rachel Atherton is injury free for the first time in forever, so the nod has to go to Atherton. For the junior women…I don’t think anyone’s going to edge out Tahnee Seagrave—she’s 16 and absolutely killin’ it.

Look for the crowds at the finish in Leogang to be about double what they were last year. World Cup racing is one thing World Champs are something else entirely.
  Look for the crowds at the finish in Leogang to be about double what they were last year. World Cup racing is one thing, World Champs are something else entirely.


Wandering off course at Leogang has it s own risks for both riders and spectators alike. The upper section of the track is lined with pastures and the local farmers aren t keen on having their fields trampled or the livestock agitated. The fences are supposed to be turned off but as more than one person has discovered in years past supposed to be and are off are two different things.
  Wandering off course at Leogang has it's own risks for both riders and spectators alike. The upper section of the track is lined with pastures and the local farmers aren't keen on having their fields trampled or the livestock agitated. The fences are supposed to be turned off, but as more than one person has discovered in years past, "supposed to be" and "are" off are two different things.


Danny Hart Timeless. But out for the Worlds and out for the season.
  Danny Hart: Timeless. But out for the Worlds and out for the season.


Will this be Minnaar s race He won here this past May against a full field-minus Gwin who opted instead to contend for a race in the US instead.
  Will this be Minnaar's race? He won here this past May against a full field-minus Gwin, who opted instead to contend for a race in the US instead.


Gwin has proved to be a tactician unlike any seen since the glory days of Nicolas Vouilloz. One of his strengths is to look over the track and assess exactly where he s made mistakes in qualifying and where he can find lost seconds. The one thing that may mess with that mojo though is that the World Champs doesn t have a qualifying run. There is a timed run the day before the big dance but there s no guarantee that his competitors are going full tilt as there are no precious UCI points on tap for winning that timed run. Consequently it will be an inaccurate tool for Gwin to use to assess his competition. In short Don t read too much into those timed runs when they get posted on Saturday. Particularly Gwin s.
  Gwin has proved to be a tactician unlike any seen since the glory days of Nicolas Vouilloz. One of his strengths is to look over the track and assess exactly where he's made mistakes in qualifying, and where he can find lost seconds. The one thing that may mess with that mojo, though, is that the World Champs doesn't have a qualifying run. There is a timed run the day before the big dance, but there's no guarantee that his competitors are going full tilt as there are no precious UCI points on tap for "winning" that timed run. Consequently, it will be an inaccurate tool for Gwin to use to assess his competition. In short? Don't read too much into those timed runs when they get posted on Saturday. Particularly Gwin's.


Gee Atherton has podiumed here at Leogang but never on the top step. However Gee is making this World Champs a priority he skipped out on Crankworx in Whistler--traditionally a bit of a vacation for the Atherton clan--in favor of training.
  Gee Atherton has podiumed here at Leogang but never on the top step. However, Gee is making this World Champs a priority; he skipped out on Crankworx in Whistler--traditionally a bit of a vacation for the Atherton clan--in favor of training.


It won t be all fun and games for Mitch Ropelato at this year s World Champs. The call up to the A squad with Sam Hill and Troy Brosnan on Monster Specialized will demand a sharper focus.
  It won't be all fun and games for Mitch Ropelato at this year's World Champs. The call up to the "A" squad with Sam Hill and Troy Brosnan on Monster Specialized will demand a sharper focus.


And let s not forget that the focus here at World Champs won t all be up on the DH and 4X tracks Evan Warner of SRAM will be here to defend his title from Boxxer Worlds last year. Only time will tell if Cougar Candy can take another win.
  And let's not forget that the focus here at World Champs won't all be up on the DH and 4X tracks; Evan Warner of SRAM will be here to defend his title from Boxxer Worlds last year. Only time will tell if 'Cougar Candy' can take another win.


It will be Justin Leov s last World Champs as a racer--Leov has announced his retirement effective at the end of this year s season. It s been a great ride Jusso you will be missed.
  It will be Justin Leov's last World Champs as a racer--Leov has announced his retirement effective at the end of this year's season. It's been a great ride, Jusso; you will be missed.


Rumors swirl about Peaty possibly retiring at the end of this season too. If that s the case give this legend a bit of extra cheering during his run as it will likely be his last time contesting for the coveted rainbow stripes. To put his time racing into perspective Nico Vouilloz shown here wishing Peaty well at Champery last year officially retired from World Cup DH racing a decade ago. These two regularly battled it out in the mud of the World Cup in the mid 90 s until Nico s retirement in 2002.
  Rumors swirl about Peaty possibly retiring at the end of this season, too. If that's the case, give this legend a bit of extra cheering during his run as it will likely be his last time contesting for the coveted rainbow stripes. To put his time racing into perspective, Nico Vouilloz, shown here wishing Peaty well at Champery last year, officially 'retired' from World Cup DH racing a decade ago. These two regularly battled it out in the mud of the World Cup in the mid 90's until Nico's retirement in 2002.


Rachel Atherton was in Whistler but kept the racing to a minimum focusing instead on a relaxed mindset for racing in Leogang. Given her technical handling and her ability to hammer the pedals the odds favor Rachel.
  Rachel Atherton was in Whistler, but kept the racing to a minimum, focusing instead on a relaxed mindset for racing in Leogang. Given her technical handling and her ability to hammer the pedals, the odds favor Rachel.


Another great rider we will see contending for rainbow stripes here at Leogang for a final time is Sabrina Jonnier. Sabos s time racing DH has earned her 5 World Cup overall titles and 2 World Championship titles. You too Sabo will be missed.
  Another great rider we will see contending for rainbow stripes here at Leogang for a final time is Sabrina Jonnier. Sabos's time racing DH has earned her 5 World Cup overall titles and 2 World Championship titles. You, too, Sabo, will be missed.


Tracey Hannah won t be racing here in Leogang as she is still recovering from a broken femur suffered in Val d Isere. Best wishes to her Emilie Siegenthaler Myriam Nicole and Jill Kintner to come back next year just as strong.
  Tracey Hannah won't be racing here in Leogang as she is still recovering from a broken femur suffered in Val d'Isere. Best wishes to her, Emilie Siegenthaler, Myriam Nicole, and Jill Kintner to come back next year just as strong.


Emmeline Ragot took time to train at Whistler during Crankworx but competed only in the Enduro Open and the Garbanzo DH in order to minimize the risk of aggravating her sore shoulder so close to World Champs and with the World Cup overall still undecided. The pedaling sections at Leogang aren t likely to favor her taking a third World Championship title against a dominant Rachel Atherton but then again the odds weren t in her favor in 09 in Canberra either.
  Emmeline Ragot took time to train at Whistler during Crankworx, but competed only in the Enduro Open and the Garbanzo DH in order to minimize the risk of aggravating her sore shoulder so close to World Champs and with the World Cup overall still undecided. The pedaling sections at Leogang aren't likely to favor her taking a third World Championship title against a dominant Rachel Atherton, but then again, the odds weren't in her favor in '09 in Canberra, either.


4X

The 4X Pro Tour saw Thomas Slavik and Anneke Beerten dominate all season long. But it was an Olympic year so a lot of top names were either focusing exclusively on BMX or mixing and matching. Consequently, making a call on a winner here in Leogang is damn near impossible as those Olympic BMX focused racers (like David Graf and Roger Rinderknecht) are coming to Leogang with ‘bomber’ fitness and clear focus. As a result, I’m going to say it’s anyone’s race amongst the top riders for the men and the women.

One thing that will make this track one to watch is the course make over from none other than Guido Tschugg. The man can build, that’s for sure! This track is now an entirely different beast compared to the track that was here last year. The basic skeleton is the same, but the track is now bigger, meaner, and worthy of being called a World Championship track... Among the changes? A 52-foot set of doubles. Yes, the 4X will be a wild one in Leogang.


David Graf could be a wild card winner for the 4X in Leogang. Graf is fresh off the Olympics and the training for that has him in arguably the best shape of his life--a key to that ever important first gate. That fitness was on display at the final race of the 4X Pro Tour in Willingen following the London Olympics and Graf mowed down the competition qualifying first and taking the win in the final.
  David Graf could be a wild card winner for the 4X in Leogang. Graf is fresh off the Olympics, and the training for that has him in arguably the best shape of his life--a key to that ever important first gate. That fitness was on display at the final race of the 4X Pro Tour in Willingen following the London Olympics, and Graf mowed down the competition, qualifying first and taking the win in the final.


It s going to be odd seeing a 4X World Champs without Jared Graves smashing the opening gate and gunning the hole shot. Next to Lopes in his prime Graves was the best bet for a win anytime he stepped into the starting gate.
  It's going to be odd seeing a 4X World Champs without Jared Graves smashing the opening gate and gunning the hole shot. Next to Lopes in his prime, Graves was the best bet for a win anytime he stepped into the starting gate.





83 Comments

  • 96 2
 Sam Hill, that is all.
  • 23 0
 Hope so ! Big Grin
  • 21 0
 Amen to that... would love to see him on the top spot again.
  • 11 16
flag Hermit185 (Aug 28, 2012 at 6:53) (Below Threshold)
 look sam hill is a legand! but every rider has a rise and fall, and sam hill just didnt have the best luck this year. for this weekend? i got to stay with my boy aaron.
  • 30 1
 still hoping smith finally get a top spot.
  • 4 4
 hermit185.pinkbike.com you should be saying steve smith not aaron
  • 8 0
 Would love to see Hill on that top step for sure!! Get on the hunt!
  • 3 0
 lets ship hermit down south there eh haha go stevie
  • 5 14
flag Mutiny5050 (Aug 28, 2012 at 16:48) (Below Threshold)
 AMERICA!!!!! Gwinn will destroy as he has done so all year.
  • 1 0
 i think we all wont to see hill get his shred on and take top spot!!! and would be good to see troy up there in the top 10 aswell after his time out!! go the aussie boys!!!!
  • 28 0
 hope peaty isnt really retiring
  • 5 0
 yeah me too, hey may be "ageing" but he still kills it! and it's also that personality that rocks! don't retire Peaty!!!
  • 5 0
 If peaty retires I think I will just drop dead
  • 2 0
 I actually got really sad reading that. I mean I understand why he would consider it. But he's still competitive, maybe not as much as he used to be, but the man is an absolute legend, and not in the flippant sense of the word. He's been in the sport for so long, he's had an amazing career, and he has the best demeanor ever. I've said I'd miss a lot of riders who've retired from racing DH or 4x, etc... But Jesus, Peaty will be incredibly missed by the entire field of riders. Male or female. I mean he's Peaty.
  • 1 0
 It'll be a very sad day if Peaty does retire. Just trying to think of how many riders hes inspired is mind boggling. seeing him on that yellow and black 223 is what made me want a DH rig. I hope he stays in it, every race i look forward to see him smash it. May not be podium but still killing it!
  • 13 5
 Can't belive that people that live in the same continent keep using the term American to describe USA cityzens. Not big deal but shurely inaccurate .
  • 11 3
 Maybe it's because the United States of America is the only country with the word "America" in it? I mean, you are right that Canadians and Mexicans are also Americans, but only in the context that British and French are Europeans. So what do you propose Citizens of the United States of America should be called?
  • 13 1
 USAians
  • 6 1
 The MOST common use for the term American is used to describe a citizens of the United States of America. A much LESS use of the term American is used to desribe a person or attribute of one of the nations of the Americas.
  • 16 4
 As far as I know Americans have dark skin and hunt buffalo , every one else should be called " immigrants " but that term is only used when a Mexican trys to get in apparently..
  • 2 1
 @ mcgetskinny that's the spirit bro, and how I sayed it is not a big deal , for those that was curious: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demonym ( press ctrl+f and type usa), and as far even some children know there was a another FEW precolumbian cultures besides the north american natives that hunted buffalos , if someone feel curious en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-Columbian_era
  • 1 0
 call them gavachos
  • 4 0
 Leogang is such a disgrace of a venue. They are the oldest bike park in this area and for years and years they totally neglect trail maintenance and charge the most for the lift pass Fuck them! Oh and I really would love to se Rat Boy take the title, wishful thinking but it would be awesome but then again Stevie Smith is on fire!
  • 5 0
 I agree, when the hell is Schladming coming back?
  • 2 0
 I thought that it was meant to be next year, but i don't think that it is on the calender so maybe 2014?
  • 2 0
 that track looks sick but we feel you on the maintenance when it comes to whistler. i hear they just keep making trailcrew smaller so its not even those boys fault that so many trails are punched so hard all year, hard to maintain when theres new trails to build i guess. Whistler keeps getting more expensive too lets see some support for the existing trails and expand the damn crews at the 'worlds best bike park' respect to the boys there though i think they just need more hands eh
  • 1 0
 honestly i have no idea about the number of people they do have whistler, when i was there (last september) even after crankworks the trails looked and haven been maintained better then they have ever been in Leogang trust me...

if it is true about the reduced number of people working there that would be sad because the main reason to go back there and not go to any of the big resorts in Europe is trail maintenance.
  • 1 0
 agreed! IMO the track is too easy to determine the world champion!
  • 1 0
 hm i don't think thats the problem here, Leogang downhill is pretty gnarly especially when wet, and being really fast down that track is not easy.
  • 6 0
 I really hope Gee takes the win. Would be sort of like Hart last year, no World Cup wins, but takes Champs. He needs a win!
  • 2 0
 Totally agree mate !!
  • 5 0
 stoked for the athertons! rachel will probably win it, gee is a maybe but hell itll be good to see him back on the top spot or more ideal smith 1st gee 2nd
  • 3 0
 In Livigno at the moment, going up through Austria this week to cheer the brits on in Leogang. Go PEATY!
  • 4 0
 Can anyone confirm that Peaty is retiring? I hope not!
  • 1 0
 Hope not! he still has plenty left in the tank! his results this year are just down to bad luck, plus he his just had a win at the weekend! Peat has many more years left in him if he want to carry on.
  • 2 1
 no way he should retire... ^agreed..hes had some bad luck for a while thats all, hope it doesnt get to him. while he can land in the top ten in races he should carry on imo...its good to have older fellas in there aswell.
  • 1 0
 Relax people--it's a rumor and was stated as such.
  • 1 0
 Love to see Peaty race the enduro races in Europe for a couple of seasons when he does finally retire.
  • 4 1
 Danny Harts out this year? What happened?
  • 1 2
 Yeah, what's up with Danny?? Injured??
  • 23 2
 Read the the markings inbetween the pictures , I hear a rumour that it's some kind of language using symbols to convey messages !
  • 2 10
flag nouser (Aug 28, 2012 at 5:53) (Below Threshold)
 The guy above asked what happened - The "markings between the pictures" only says he is out - not why.
  • 8 0
 It says shoulder injury
  • 8 0
 Apparently, a lot of people have been living under a rock
  • 3 0
 he hurt his shoulder at crankworx europe and is out for the rest of the season
  • 3 0
 Anyone know why Fairclough can't replace Hart despite being a reserve for the British team? His twitter says something about UCI rules.
  • 1 0
 Its because Hart gets to ride anyway as he is defending champion, so effectivly GB get an extra rider, but Hart can't be replaced. If that makes sense
  • 1 0
 I like the pretty pictures
  • 4 0
 Smith!!!!
  • 3 0
 Smith + new carbon Wilson = Win
  • 1 0
 I think it's a bit too early to write off any of the Aussie juniors... Particularly Connor Fearon who has beat both Loic and Richey Rude Jnr at some point this year.
  • 5 4
 I love being one of the first to comment on stuff that gets posted in the middle of the night for all you Americans
  • 3 4
 It's 8:05 AM...
  • 2 4
 No its not, its 10:17pm on my clock! Hehe

But maybe I did get it a little bit wrong
  • 5 2
 peaty 1st hill 2nd
  • 4 1
 hahah good joke
  • 4 1
 lol probably... but if it will wont it be the most epic race ever ?
  • 2 0
 to the keg after the race
  • 1 0
 That Danny Hart pic is just so perfect. Will miss screaming you down the course Danny.
  • 3 0
 Leov for gold!
  • 2 0
 Gwinn vs. Minnaar, Gee takes 3
  • 3 0
 SMITH FTW!!!!
  • 2 1
 If Peaty does retire I'd love to see him join Rob Warner in the commentary box!
  • 2 0
 If only Rob wasn't censored/dumbed down to the absolute max by Red Bull. His commentary is 3-4 notches down on the excitement from years past.
  • 1 0
 I have missed somrthing....what happened to Jared Graves? He is not in the list, isnt he?
  • 1 0
 That dude from iran for the win, the dude for Kazakistan 2nd, his cousin in 3rd place, i llllllliiiiiikkkkkkkkeeeeeee bike
  • 2 2
 that berm turns are lame for a DH Shanpionship, also no rocks on the course. very smoth
  • 3 0
 Smooth? Did you not see how blown out the berms were from Bulldogs helmet cam? Not to mention all the "arm sized" roots in the woods!
  • 1 0
 Thumbs UP for Markus Pekoll and the MS crew!!! Go get it!
  • 1 0
 Ropelto playing Mad Skills MX! So addictive!
  • 3 2
 gwin or smith for the win
  • 3 4
 Why are there the world champs races now, with one WC race left? Doesn't it always come at the end to determine rider placement based on final WC results?
  • 1 0
 Nope, World Champs has no bearing on overall World Cup Standings, Championship: one race, World Cup: best overall. Also you race under your nation at World Champs.

Also back in 2008 when Gee atherton won, the race was in the middle of the season before the olympics.
  • 1 0
 Yes , I understand that, but the seeding for the race is determined by your standing in the overall world cup, isn't it? Hence Hart (last year's winner goes last, although he's out this year) so then Gwinn, Minnaar, Atherton, etc. following in descending order of WC rankings.
  • 1 0
 I believe that seeding in done by UCI ranking, not World Cup Rankings
  • 2 1
 If its dry gwin, if it's wet brosnan. Word.
  • 1 0
 Thats the 26 trix course in the background isnt it?
  • 1 0
 Nooooo peaty you can't retire !!!!!!!;(
  • 1 0
 world - champ - biatch! Big Grin

poor danny! Frown
  • 1 0
 I hope brycland pulls something out of the bag and wins !!!!!!!!
  • 1 0
 Hoping for Troy on podium
  • 1 1
 It's 2 PM here:/

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