The World Champs have officially kicked off with not one but two races on opening day. It's a day we thought we wouldn't get to see this year given the current situation across the globe but the organizers seem to have everything under control as of now. Athletes from each federation present have been preparing for this since the last champs took place and are eager to get things started. The festivities began with a team relay between nations and ended with e-bikes zapping around the very slippery, newly carved course.
Mother nature was a last-minute shoo-in at the start line and wreaked havoc on the already treacherous course. The grassy hill is now a pudding slide and all the new natural sections are a write off. The race was won or lost depending on how upright you stayed. Most riders went full cyclocross and ran entire sections of the course. It was carnage.
Twelve nations showed up to the team relay and were met with cold and wet conditions straight off the bat. Early riders from the United States were pulling away with it before fighting for the lead once again. In the last few laps, the French riders pulled away once Austria's light dimmed out, granting France the win with Italy and Switzerland in tow.
The e-bikes then took charge on the already rutted out track. The rain continued to fall and made the climbs hilariously slippery having rear wheels spinning everywhere. The men were first to start and Jerome Gilloux had the early jump. All eyes were on Tom Pidcock however who knows a thing or two about racing in terrible conditions. He seemed out of contention early yet managed to ride the swampy sections as if they were dry, gaining valuable time on Gilloux, and eventually passing him. Simon Andreassen had an equally impressive ride having never ridden a e-bike before and letting his bike handling skills do the talking.
The women's e-bike race ended the day here in Leogang. It was all Melanie Pugin from about the second lap after an impressive ride, bringing it home for France. Behind her, the two Swiss riders, Kathrine Stirnemann and Nathalie Schneitter went back and forth a few times until the last lap. Mud was being flung in every direction until the last rider was through.