It may have taken until October but finally we have ourselves some top-level downhill racing to savour and there's no easing in... First race back and it's World Champs in Leogang. Whilst the Austrian venue is a mainstay on the World Cup circuit, it's often dubbed as a fairly mellow bike park race. That certainly wouldn't appear to be the case this year. Walking down the track today in some rather foul conditions, it seemed to follow the usual Leogang flavour of high speed and manmade features until we reached the wallrides above the woods. The riders take the left hand wallride as normal but instead of taking the right hander too, they break off the normal track and onto some off-camber grass before diving into the woods on to some oh-so-steep and oh-so-slick fresh cut which will change the complexity of this World Championship massively.
There were mixed feelings from the riders it seemed. Some loved it, some even called it dangerous. For years racers have screamed out for something different from the Leogang track and this year the organisers have certainly delivered that. The bottom woods is unridden, off camber, steep, rooty, and treacherously slick. The first practice session tomorrow will be an eye-opening experience for both those inside and outside of the tape. Should the racers survive the woods, their path will then be blocked by a huge new gap which had people gulping and gasping when they walked the plank to peer over the edge. The track is soft and soaking top to bottom thanks to consistently heavy rain throughout the day. The next 2 days look slightly more favourable weather-wise but then for race day it looks like a whole other kettle of fish... Predictions anyone? We haven't the faintest.