Practice Photo Report: Following The Herd - Leogang DH World Cup 2018

Jun 8, 2018
by Nathan Hughes  




Round 3 is well underway here in Austria and the day started like Bambi on ice even for some of the most experienced of riders... or a newborn calf descending a steep and slippery alpine meadow at best. After a night of heavy rain, thick and soupy mountain fog reduced visibility and kept things extra moist for the first riders on track, and few had a clue where they were going on the fresh-cut course. For those unlucky souls it was a mostly a case of following the herd and tentatively stomping down the hill until ruts formed and some grip was finally found while the clouds burned away in the summer sun. By the time elite men were on track at noon, it still wasn't to be plain sailing, however.

The abundance of new and heavily altered sections was tripping up the big-timers from the get-go, not least the ultra-wide and off-camber straight following the first turn. Of course, it didn't take many laps before we were seeing some heinous displays of speed; it never does, and by the time we'd had our afternoon coffee and kaiserschmarrn, timed training was upon us and riders were pushing the limits. Loic Bruni set the fastest lap of the day with a 3:18, followed by a return to top flight form for Mike Jones and fresh elite, Finn Iles. Rachel Atherton looked to be in a league of her own in the women's field, but without flogging dead horses we all know timed training isn't fully revealing. Still, whoever is 'on it' clearly means business, so let the speculation begin.

Will Gwin make it four on the trot? Will Seagrave defend her crown/tiara?



A sight for sore eyes... fluffy cotton wool blanketing the valley floor.
A sight for sore eyes... fluffy cotton wool blanketing the valley floor.

John Hall stares up the mountain with a head full of Leogang memories some with chain malfunctions some without. The results were unaffected obviously and his boy AG took the three-peat.
Aaron Gwin's mechanic, John Hall, stares up the mountain with a head full of Leogang memories; some with tire malfunctions, some without. Some with chain malfunctions, some without. The results were unaffected. Kind of makes you wonder how he motivates himself to get up in the morning...

Sticky mud greeted the first riders on track in early morning Group B practice.
Sticky mud greeted the first riders on track in early morning Group B practice.

Tahnee Seagrave stretches out before heading up the hill for her first runs of the day.
Tahnee Seagrave stretches out before heading up the hill for her first runs of the day.

Riders in the fog at 8am.
Riders feeling their way in the fog at 8am.

Boositng into the fog first thing in the morning.
Boosting into the mist first thing in the morning.

Tegan Molloy drops below the fog layer during morning practice.
Tegan Molloy drops below the fog layer during morning practice.

Myranda Miller dropping into a temporary summer-scape.
Miranda Miller dropping into a temporary summer-scape.

The elite women will have to go extra hard if they want to avoid being shown up by Vali Holl on home soil.
The elite women will have to go extra hard if they want to avoid being shown up by Vali Holl on home soil.

Pom Pon tries to find the grip on the new fresh cut section right out of the start gate. By afternoon things were all dried up but in the morning it was a mess here.
Pom Pon tries to find the grip on the new fresh cut section right out of the start gate. By afternoon things were all dried up, but in the morning it was a mess here.

It was a misty mountain kind of boring in Leogang today.
The mist soon burned off and somehow the weather behaved immaculately throughout elite practice and the timed training.

Luca Shaw will be out to put wrongs to right starting tomorrow with quaies.
Luca Shaw will be out to put wrongs to right starting tomorrow with qualies.

Loic Bruni gets his elbow taped up before a hard day of training. He is almost one hundred percent but the tapping is to help prevent re injuring anything in the case of another crash.
Loic Bruni gets his elbow taped up before a hard day of training. He is almost one hundred percent but the taping is to help prevent re-injuring anything in the case of another crash.

Mick Hannah tastes the fresh dirt of the first turn.
Mick Hannah tastes the fresh dirt of the first turn.

Gee Atherton tries to keep in low over the first jump on track.
Gee Atherton tries to keep it low over the first jump on track.

Bernard Kerr might not be able to walk properly after breaking his foot earlier in the year but he s off to great start here on the bike with 6th fastest TT today.
Bernard Kerr might not be able to walk properly after breaking his foot earlier in the year, but he's off to great start here on the bike, going 6th fastest in timed training.

Aaron and Neko inspect the first few turns which changed massively throughout the day.
Aaron and Neko inspect the first few turns, which changed massively throughout the day.

Finn Iles sideways into the dark.
Finn Iles sideways into the dark and headed for 3rd fastest time.

The newest member of the World Cup winners club means business. Amaury is just getting started.
The newest member of the World Cup winner's club means business. Amaury is just getting started.

Lucky number 13 Reece Wilson still stoked as can be on riding bikes after Fort Bill.
Lucky number 13, Reece Wilson, still stoked as can be on riding bikes after Fort Bill.

Brook MacDonald performing infront of the crowds looking to make sense of the new off camber up top.
Brook Macdonald performing in front of the crowds looking to make sense of the new off camber up top.

Connor Fearon in a speed spiral entering tunnel 1.
Connor Fearon in a speed spiral entering tunnel 1.

Last weeks second place finisher Loris Vergier is also looking quick on track in Leogang.
Last week's second place finisher Loris Vergier is also looking quick on track in Leogang.

Kade Edwards making the bike really sing on the motorway section.
Kade Edwards making his bike sing on the motorway section.

Gee keeps it high on the awkward off camber traverse before plunging into more familiar terrain at Leogang.
Gee keeps it high on the awkward off-camber traverse before plunging into more familiar terrain.

Kye A hern won his first junior race last week in Fort William and is looking to back to back here in Leogang.
Kye A'hern won his first junior race last week in Fort William and is looking to back to back here in Leogang.

Fresh UK talent Charlie Hatton looking pinned doing laps with Gee Atherton.
Fresh UK talent, Charlie Hatton, looking pinned doing laps with Gee Atherton.

The first turn gets the better of Jacob Dickson although it s one of the more stylish crashes there was today
The first turn got the better of Jacob Dickson, although it's one of the more stylish crashes there was today.

Mark Wallace versus a million meadow flowers.
Mark Wallace versus a million meadow flowers.

Did we mention that the ground is soft Just one of many monster ruts on track.
Did we mention that the ground is soft? Just one of many monster ruts on track.

Remi Thirion back on track 1 year on from his crash here that took him out the remainder of the 2017 season.
Remi Thirion back on track one year on from his crash here that took him out for the remainder of the 2017 season.

Phil Atwill has a plan to blow up everything until he gets his season back on track.
Phil Atwill has a plan to blow up everything until he gets his season back on track.

Aaron Gwin looked to really be struggling today with a potential injury picked up in Fort William whilst other racers were racking up runs he was resigned to a handful and they were taken at a chilled pace.
Aaron Gwin looked to really be struggling today, potentially due to an injury picked up in Fort William. While other racers were racking up runs he was resigned to a handful and they were taken at a chilled pace.

Tahnee Seagrave took her maiden elite win here last year and looked good on track today although she did go down quite hard in timed training and didn t complete a run.
Tahnee Seagrave took her maiden elite win here last year and looked good on track today, although she went down quite hard in timed training and didn't complete a run.

Brendan Fairclough looked extra aggressive during the TT and posted a time well in touch with top dogs.
Brendan Fairclough looked extra aggressive during the TT and posted a time well in touch with top dogs.

Luca Shaw will be hungry to avenge his Fort William mechanical.
Luca Shaw will be hungry to avenge his Fort William mechanical.

Fastest in timed runs was none other than Loic Bruni.
Fastest in timed runs was none other than Loic Bruni.

Danny has been a bit under the weather since Fort William but is through the worst of it now. He ll be relishing those fresh sections.
Danny has been a bit under the weather since Fort William, but is through the worst of it now. He'll be relishing those fresh sections.

Marcelo Gutierrez looked on form today but that shouldn t be surprising with the Colombian being consistently strong on all tracks.
Marcelo Gutierrez looked on form today, but that shouldn't be surprising with the Colombian being consistently strong on all tracks.

Tracey Hannah went second fastest in the women s TT but it seemed few apart from Rachel Atherton really went for it.
Tracey Hannah went second fastest in the women's TT, a few seconds down from Rachel Atherton, who really went for it.

Laurie Greenland digging into some hard-pack up high.
Laurie Greenland digging into some hard-pack up high.

Emilie Siegenthaler hammering the berm into tunnel 2.
Emilie Siegenthaler hammering the berm into tunnel two.

Fully pinned and always with some of the best style is Sam Blenkinsop.
Sam Blenkinsop, fully pinned and stylish as always.

Mike Jones has been quiet the last season or two but taking the 2nd fastest TT today suggests he might be about to come back to the fray aboard his new Mondraker.
Mike Jones has been quiet the last season or two, but taking the 2nd fastest in timed training today suggests he might be about to come back to the fray aboard his new Mondraker.

Alex Marin exits the first rock garden.
Alex Marin exits the first rock garden.

Global warming is real and pick up your Twix wrappers people.
Pick up your Twix wrappers, people, before Leogang calls you out fair and square.

Mark Wallace popping into the shadows in one of the many Leogang tunnels.
Mark Wallace popping into the shadows in one of the many Leogang tunnels.

Tahnee Seagrave enjoying the improvements on track in Leogang this year and looking to repeat her winning performance from 2017.
Tahnee Seagrave enjoying the improvements on track in Leogang this year and looking to repeat her winning performance from 2017.

Charlie Harrison pushing for a top 10 TT this afternoon.
Charlie Harrison pushing for a top 10 TT this afternoon.

Speed tucking it over the jumps and into first in timed training for Rachel Atherton.
Speed tucking it over the jumps and into first in timed run for Rachel Atherton.

Kade Edwards in orbit during timed training.
Kade Edwards in orbit.

Dakotah Norton with a top 10 plate at round 3... Can he keep this dream alive We hope so.
Dakotah Norton with a top 10 plate at round 3... Can he keep this dream alive? We hope so.

The ruts got deep today...mighty deep.
The ruts got deep today...mighty deep. More rain and who could tell how this track will change.

Last weeks winner Amaury Pierron rails into the second tunnel on track.
Picture-postcard views and last week's winner, Amaury Pierron, at full tilt to sign off a great first day on the hill here in Austria.



64 Comments

  • + 120
 Those mountains do not get old, and neither do these photo reports. So good!
  • + 1
 Wheres Kiran?
  • + 10
 Yeah stunning work PB photogs!
  • + 8
 Agree, the photography is excellent. I'm happy you guys Dave, Nathan and Ross work for Pinkbike!
  • + 5
 They're actually about 65 million years old, Photos slightly more recent
  • + 33
 Love the sign
  • + 6
 Ich bin ein Depp
  • + 18
 The UK should have these everywhere. Especially when there's a McDonalds nearby.
  • + 20
 @metaam: people who eat at McDonald's shouldn't be allowed near nature.
  • + 2
 @colincolin: they are compelled to litter to express their self-loathing at having eaten shit-food...
  • + 19
 Am I the only one that thought the caption under Mick Hannah should have been "Naild It."?
  • + 13
 Mick Hannah's swingarm sticker sums things up perfectly...
  • + 5
 That one's going straight to the pool room.
  • + 2
 @BorisBC35:

How's the Serenity ?
  • + 1
 Dream ride.
  • + 9
 Back to back weekends. So great.
  • + 7
 raw video of first practise
www.pinkbike.com/video/488198
  • + 6
 the photo of Gwin and his typical eye focus in the photo does not indicate that he's struggling.
  • + 5
 Gwin will roll qualies because his thumb hurts... and then win the race. I bet you.
  • + 4
 What's the extra shock hooked to Loic's fork? Is it something that's doing measurements on the way down? Something that helps them dial it all in?
  • + 3
 Looks like a potentiometer to measure how much travel he's using / time.
  • + 2
 Telemetry. Helps see how the fork acts if its packing up or not taking the hit right.
  • + 5
 Do u guys take a vote on which photos get the greyscale treatment?
  • + 3
 Definitely a crown and not a tiara. In another time Queen Tahnee would have you beheaded for writing silly sexist shit like that.
  • + 3
 Mike Jones taking advantage of the new iPhone shaving app there. Absolutely stunning pics PB!
  • + 3
 That first photo of kade shows they have literally doubled the length of the jump for the wc. Insane.
  • + 1
 Totally random, but I'd have expected Tahnee Seagrave to be on the Addix Ultra Soft Magic Mary, not the soft... I'd be curious to know why.
  • + 4
 Bitchin pics!
  • + 2
 This photo set is another level all together. Great work!!
  • + 2
 That shot of Fairclough with the mountains in the background.......wow!!
  • + 1
 If the Polygon team are sponsored by SR Suntour why have they run at least 5 different brands fo rear in the past 2 years?
  • + 6
 If you were sponsored by SR Suntour would you want anything but the sponsorship money?
  • + 4
 Because they don't make a dh rear shock.
  • + 2
 @YouHadMeAtDrugs: Sure they do.You just don't see many.Except for the bike check on Pinkbike today of Flo's XXL bike.
  • + 1
 @nug12182: well how about that. Neato.
  • + 1
 @YouHadMeAtDrugs: I doubt they are any good though.Nobody except a few riders race on them.
  • - 1
 Soft,,, rain coming,,, flats and 26"?? I'm just sayin
  • + 1
 Just WOW! Nice work on the pictures, amazing event!
  • + 1
 they litter in Austria?!?!
  • + 1
 Does anybody know why Thirion has a yellow plate and what it stands for?
  • + 2
 #1 ranked team
  • - 1
 Guys, you’re not in da club, you’re in the mountains. Please dial back the Lycra content in your kits.
  • + 0
 please do more about Connor Fearons Kona please!!
  • + 1
 Bop n it don't stop.
  • + 1
 Moto rutts!!!
  • - 3
 Leogangbang
  • - 2
 Prototype bike for Sik Mik?
  • - 4
flag makripper (Jun 8, 2018 at 18:20) (Below Threshold)
 Theyve been using it for a couple years
  • + 0
 hasnt even been a year.
  • + 2
 @Engie85: they were racing them last year and testing the year before. Still working out the kinks. Lots of kinks. I hope they ditch it.
  • - 1
 @makripper: correct me if I am wrong, but by the UCI regulations the bike should be in mass production in a short timeframe after first racing a WC stage
  • + 0
 @eugen-fried: this has never been a UCI rule or regulation and would be be almost impoossible to enforce.
  • + 3
 @davetrumpore: article 1.3.007 is actually the rule. Shouldn't you be aware of these things? Lol
  • + 1
 @davetrumpore: I think he’s referring to the rule where Santa Cruz, Intense et al had to get their 29ers into production after racing them at WC’s. Not sure what you’re referring to though???
  • + 1
 @atrokz: "This practical guide applies to equipment used in road, track and cyclo-cross events. Each discipline has its own technical characteristics and each may have variants depending on the type of event"

There has never been a rule in any resemblance of this in DH.

Yes... I am aware of these things.

Even in road it is a ridiculous rule as there is no set minimum for production volume or price. So you could race a prototype and make 1 production relics available for an unattainable $50k and skirt the whole regulation.

LOL???
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