Another year, another trip to Leogang but this time around racers were met with a few interesting course changes; general opinion seemed to be positive. They certainly made things a bit more interesting to both ride and to watch, with the off-camber meadows right out the start hut causing problems for a few racers even come finals day.
Let's look through the keyhole at who suffered most or thrived on the updated track.
Sector Analysis The Track
Imagery courtesy of Red Bull and Google. Split guesstimates by me.
We've had a two-minute track and a four-minute track, now round three in Austria nestles right in between, with the track splits evenly spaced (unlike Fort William's event
Sector 1: 45s
Sector 2: 35s
Sector 3: 35s
Sector 4: 40s
Sector 5: 30s
Sector 1: 55s
Sector 2: 45s
Sector 3: 45s
Sector 4: 50s
Sector 5: 35s
The first course change for this year, and the most significant that wasn't just tighter taping, was the off-camber grass up top which included a tricky section right out the start gate. It looked as though it was still developing through race-day with definite potential for losing time, and it caught a few people out as we saw with both Specialized Gravity riders Bruni and Iles, though the former's spectacular save kept him in the top twenty.
Fort William's winner Pierron got off to a great start winning the first sector, closely followed by an overdue return to form for Mike Jones. Gwin's hand was obviously feeling better as he was right in touch in 3rd at the split.
With the evenly spaced splits compared to Fort Bill, we don't see quite the same gaps at split 1, though it's still two seconds. The top three did end up being the same by the finish line, and only one eventual change in the top five.
A notable omission is Seagrave who went outside the tape further down the track and was later disqualified taking a chunk of my fantasy points away!
Sector 2 was the first real test of Gwin's hand, and it was obviously doing a lot better as he put almost half a second into the rest of the field, catapulting to first for the split. Vergier and Troy "Consistency" Brosnan (as we'll see later) were in behind Gwin and Fort William's phenomenon Reece Wilson carried his form through to Leogang's race for sector 10th place and split 9th position. Luca Shaw was sitting in fourth for the split, poised to make his move on the leaders.
Danny Hart had a notably and uncharacteristically slow sector 2, tied 19th with Isak Leivsson which dropped him a few places further back from 8th at Split 1 to 11th. Fellow Brit, Mike Jones, was outside the sector top twenty but did enough in the first sector to be in an impressive 7th place at the split. Compatriot Gee Atherton continued to struggle to find previous form with 15th at the split. The Gutierrez brothers hung out together, separated by only six-tenths of a second, with the younger ahead at this stage.
In the women's race, the leaders put another two seconds into the field in sector 2 and the lead three women were now almost five seconds clear and fighting amongst themselves. Nicole made back half a second on Atherton but the order didn't change. Siegenthaler's fourth in the sector moved her up a spot to the same place overall. Motor Woods
Clear of the Stöckl Forest, the infamous motorway was up next and we can see Luca Shaw really turned it on putting nearly half a second into Pierron, 0.7s into Gwin and over a second into eventual 3rd Greenland, which propelled him to second overall, just a tyre-knob's 0.02s behind Gwin. A few position swaps at the top, but the same names were still present.
After his strong start Mike Jones continued to struggle in the middle of the track and again outside the sector top twenty, which dropped him to 14th overall, now just one place ahead of Atherton. Norton's strong form continueed and a second here at Sector 3 puts him to 7th overall, just ahead of Macdonald and Wilson with Bruni rounding out the top ten.
We know from Gwin's chainless win that it is possible
to make up time on the motorway but it was interesting the number of racers only pumping and tucking with seldom few people putting in a couple of pedal strokes. You know who did? Shaw, Norton, and Pierron.
Despite being similar in length to all the others, we saw much smaller gaps separating the women's field in sector 3. Surprising given her preference for fast flat-out tracks, Hannah slipped outside the top three for the sector, with Hrastnik sneaking in. With clear daylight in the running clock, however, this had no effect on the split positions. Hrastnik's good sector did jump her another place in the overall, now ahead of Siegenthaler who was 9th for the sector.
Sector 4 flew around the wallrides then jumped back into the tech, including the Roots of Asitz "key section", where the top five for the sector all put at least 0.3s into the tightly packed group behind them. The eventual winners all had excellent sectors and were only separated by Jones storming back into the picture with sector-third.
Without his crash in the last corner of the sector, Shaw would have undoubtedly been right up there with these guys. Thomas Estaque had a flyer, taking him to 10th for the sector. Finn Iles, after a rocky start, was finding his speed and was just outside the top group, whereas team-mate Bruni was back in 19th for the sector.
The on-screen timing for the Roots of Asitz showed:
Shaw's crash took him out of contention, whereas, with a great sector, Greenland moved back into the top three and Brosnan was right on his tail. Jones' similar quick woods bumped him up the board, while Norton continued his great run.
Hannah clearly struggled through the tech and steeps of the sector and lost a lot of time to her rivals at the top. Nicole, on the other hand, was back in her element and put an entire second into Atherton to steal the lead!
Hrastink maintained her pace from sector 3 and kept Siegenthaler behind her, with the same true at the split. Fat Freddy's Drop
The start of sector 5 featured the double-drop to ninety-degree-right which has caught out plenty of riders in the past but not so this year. Following the subsequent drop, the new taping pushed riders into a rutted-out berm which appeared to cause everyone the larger issue. Without any obvious problem further up Gwin's low tight line didn't seem to work out for him.
Unlike the last race in Fort William when Pierron was gassed by the end, here the shorter track allowed him to finish with a strong second for the sector in behind an impressive sector win by Canadian Mark Wallace. Greenland and Gwin both dropped time but not enough to jeopardise their top-three spots, with Brosnan in fourth by a whisker. Mike Jones carried his woods speed to the finish ending 8th overall.
Tracey Hannah looked quick down the double-drop and it showed here with a sector win, over 0.7s ahead of Atherton. Nicole had a bobble on the drops, reportedly almost going OTB although just holding on, but then in the next corner had a bad line and lost just enough time to slip back behind Atherton. With the first half of the season not suiting her style (her words) but still in such a strong position overall, we can expect some really exciting racing in the coming rounds.
Hrastnik continued her strong run to the finish, claiming 4th overall and a podium spot ahead of Siegenthaler who struggled again in this sector but rounded out the top five for the day. Year Over Year
Despite the general impression of Leogang being "bike parky" and only capable of producing high-speed super-close racing where one mistake can drop you 50 places
, the top-20 actually ended up being separated by only 0.239s more than Lošinj and 0.205s more than Fort William, with all three races so far having a less than 6.5 second spread across the top 20 finishers (in the men). Moreover, the changes that apparently made the track harder and more interesting this year actually resulted in tighter racing, so did it actually get easier? In 2017 the time delta between #1
was 8.723s whereas this year only 6.356s.
Time gaps are between the two years for the same position
Men's Rank by Sector:
Pierron got off to a great start, but his overall consistency is what won it in Leogang with his best and worst sectors only five spots apart. Nobody else in the field had such consistency across all sectors with Gwin placing 1 through 9, and Greenland 1 through 12.
The heat map really highlights the struggle Jones had in the middle of the race going 46th at sector 3, and his subsequent recovery to 3rd in the next.
Men's Rank By Split:
In a complete departure from the first two races, the eventual winner won the opening sector followed by some lead-swapping as the race progressed. Much greater consistency from Pierron and Gwin as neither dropped lower than 3rd, again unlike previous races.
Not quite the full-house like the women's race last week, but the top-6 positions in Leogang were decided after split 4 with only a couple shuffles rounding out the top-10.
Mark Wallace, the young Canadian, was on the same kind of slow-burning run as Macdonald had in Scotland, and gradually improved until he put in the strongest finish of the day and elevated himself to 10th overall.
Looking by sector, Nicole's problem in the last corner is apparent, dropping to 4th in sector 5 and potentially with it the win.
Speaking of consistency winning races, Atherton only drops one sector all race, meanwhile Tracey Hannah held her 3rd place from start-gate to chequered flag.
Jones' position swings are highlighted again in this format.
Little movement at the top of the women's field.
Racer Performance Qualifying
Confirming having "some left in the tank", every racer in the top-20 in Leogang put in a stronger finals than qualifying performance. Mean time improvements for all racers and top-20 were -3.75 and -5.781 respectively, both considerably larger than last week in Scotland.
Here's how time improvements for the top-20 riders stack up or check out all 60 racers
where only six racers went slower all day.
Just like the men, all the top women improved on their qualifying times with all-racers and top-20 mean deltas -3.759 and -8.396 respectively. Expectation
It's no shock Luca Shaw is bottom for both grades of expectation. While Bruni finished only one spot outside the top ten, he is expected to perform much better based on UCI ranking and qualifying so is down there near Shaw.
It's Thomas Estaque that takes top-honours with Jones right behind him for outperforming what their UCI rank would have you believe, with winner Pierron also high on that list. Meanwhile, Gwin tops the qualifying ranking thanks to placing 2nd from 13th in qualis.
No Ravanel to stir things up this week, but it's a similar story to the men's with Atherton winning after a crash put her 16th in qualifying. Seagrave would no doubt be bottom of both like Shaw but whereas he finished Tahnee's DSQ removes her from the result set. Fantasy Value
Budget Matt Walker takes top honours in the CPP (yeah you know me) ratings this week. Not to be confused with The Fastest Matt Walker
While she did get qualifying points, her finals DSQ means Tahnee was not a good fantasy pick this week.
Season So Far
With three out of the seven races done, let's take a look at how things are progressing.Race Time Spread
Here we're looking at the time-gap-to-first for the top-twenty riders in each race so far. As mentioned earlier in this article, the racing at Leogang was no tighter than anywhere else somewhat dispelling the "one mistake and you're toast" theory - or that it's exclusive to this venue at least. In fact gaps at all three races so far are shockingly similar to 20th place, with only real daylight existing with 14th place and above at Lošinj. Despite being the longest track so far, Fort William had the tightest top-3 by a decent margin.
Season Sector Performance
Thanks to crashes, Fort William has clearly the biggest time-gaps to first, but is also remarkably consistent from 2nd through 10th. Meanwhile, Leogang and Lošinj resemble logarithmic and logit respectively.
Expanding on last week's one-off perfect run comparison, this week I've rolled up the season so far, looking at both individual sectors, and running split times.
Whilst still a small sample set of only three races, this chart gives us some insight into how individual racers perform as a race progresses.
Pierron, Hart and Ahterton are interesting to compare as they all follow a similar pattern of starting strong but finishing poorly: not something I would expect of somebody as fit and strong as Gee at least.
Loris, Blenki, and Norton, however, follow the opposite pattern of starting slow and making up a lot of time in the second half. Former teammates Gwin and Brosnan have similarly consistent results, with sector 2 being weakest for both of them.
Note that due to his flat in Scotland and crash in Austria, Shaw's dots barely register.
There is no great way to this chart with a different winner of each sector so it is ordered by World Cup overall ranking, that is by points total
The running clock paints a very interesting picture, especially as Brosnan is top of the board despite being outside the top-3 in the overall, but it is testament to the consistency of his racing. Given this, one would expect more wins and an overall not to elude him for long.
The earlier observation of Pierron and Hart is shown clearly here with the former having a clear lead up to and including split 4 before slipping to 3rd overall, while Danny Hart starts to drop one split earlier at split 3. I'm really interested to see how this develops as more races are added.
Ordered by time-gap behind the perfect run at Split 5.
In the women's race, Atherton starts strong but so far the races have been faster at the top and progressively more technical where we see Nicole pushing out front.
Tracey Hannah has been starting strong and losing time at the end. Her split 4 performance could be affected by her crash in Lošinj in such a small data set.
Other Misc InsightsStart and UCI Rank vs Finish Position
Thanks to @iamamodel
for reminding me to add the 1:1 line to these charts.Age and Speed vs Finish PositionPointsAge and Qualifiying
Missed a week?Race Analysis: Lošinj World Cup 2018Race Analysis: Fort William World Cup 2018
Everything here is available in a public GitHub repository with some notes on the process and instructions to run yourself: https://github.com/domwrap/mtbgeekstats
. If spreadsheets are more your thing, all my collated CSV files are available to download from that repo.
Data Sources: http://uci.ch/mountain-bike/ucievents/2018-mountain-bike-uci-mountain-bike-world-cup/162153118/widgets/live-timing-results-185534/ https://www.rootsandrain.com/race5899/2018-jun-10-mercedes-benz-uci-world-cup-3-leogang/results/
Analysis by Dominic WrapsonInstagram