Track Walk: A Stark Contrast - Leogang DH World Cup 2019

Jun 6, 2019 at 12:06
by Ross Bell  




The word "bikepark" is muttered like an expletive in the pits of a downhill World Cup, usually peaking whenever the circus rolls into the quaint Austrian mountain town of Leogang. Although the track may not be what a lot of riders' would describe as their favourite to race, it usually gives us some of the tightest and intense racing of the year. It's also been home to some iconic moments over the years. Stevie Smith clinching the overall as he pirouetted his bike around in the finish arena, Ratboy's long overdue first win while Bruni's victory hunt extended after crashing while green, Gwin's remarkable and seemingly impossible chainless win, Morgane Charre and Greg Minnaar taking home World Champs gold... The Leogang hillside has played host to some great racing, and the 2019 edition looks set to be another you won't want to miss.

The contrast between the two back-to-back venues is stark and doesn't just stop at the terrain beneath the rider's wheels. Having spent all week in a constant deluge of rain in Fort William we've arrived into the Leogang Bikepark in glorious sunshine, that was of course until we headed up for track walk... Thunderstorms often bubble up here in the afternoon, charging over the mountains before disappearing as quickly as they arrived.

There's been plenty of changes up on track to freshen things up, the first of which is straight out of the start gate. Instead of doing the usual first jump and corner, they'll hook right off the jump and onto the off-camber from last year which should add some spice to proceedings. Below that they've taped in some additional tight chicanes that'll force riders to slow down and work their bikes through, diving and ducking off the usual route. The other major change is the final plunge into the finish area which is out for this year, in its place is a fresh section through the woods with a drop complete with some rather chunky roots for good measure. The track has been slowed down a lot in spots which has both its plusses and minuses, and while the majority of the track has limited line choice, the fresh sections should cut in over the weekend to keep riders on their toes. After tomorrow we'll have a greater idea on how the weekend will develop, stay tuned.


Even when it s raining the views is impressive.
Even when it's raining the views is impressive.

Amaury Pierron was a big mover in the overall ranking last week but he s got his sights set even higher now.
Amaury Pierron was a big mover in the overall ranking last week, but he's got his sights set even higher now.

Old man Atherton putting the work in to stay limber.
Old man Atherton putting the work in to stay limber.

Rachel putting in the miles before taking the walk.
Rachel putting in the miles before taking the walk.

The MS behind the Mondraker team chipping in with the new floor for the gigantic 2019 pit set-up
The MS behind the Mondraker team chipping in with the new floor for the gigantic 2019 pit set-up

The mountains looming large behind Matteo Nati as he gets to work on a lengthy rebuild thanks to the moisture of Fort Bill.
The mountains looming large behind Matteo Nati as he gets to work on a lengthy rebuild thanks to the moisture of Fort Bill.

Alex Marin making sure his setup is just how he wants it after swapping to a 29 wheel up front in his Saracen Myst.
Alex Marin making sure his setup is just how he wants it after swapping to a 29" wheel up front on his Saracen Myst.

Brake bleeds were common throughout the pits as mechanics got stuck into the wear and tear from Fort William.
Brake bleeds were common throughout the pits as mechanics got stuck into the wear and tear from Fort William.

Wait what I thought we left that in Fort William
Wait, what? I thought we left that in Fort William?

Can t afford to loose your feet here in Leogang. New cleats for Vergier.
Can't afford to lose your feet here in Leogang. New cleats for Vergier.

A crowd favourite Leogang is blessed with stunning views wherever you turn.
A crowd favourite, Leogang is blessed with stunning views wherever you turn.

Matt are still licking their wounds from Fort William last weekend.
Many are still licking their wounds from Fort William last weekend.

One of the cooler start dates win the circuit.
One of the cooler start gates on the circuit.

The reworked first corner was standing room only for much of track walk.
The reworked first corner was standing room only for much of track walk.

Old track on the right new track on the left.
Old track on the right, new track on the left.

The breaking bump are getting pretty deep in spots and curious trail surfaces are bringing to come through.
The braking bump are getting pretty deep in spots and curious trail surfaces are bringing to come through.

Tunnel number one on track
Tunnel number one on track

Loic and Jack survey and very tightly taped tree stump section.
Loic and Jack survey a very tightly taped tree stump section.

Keegan Wright excited to be racing some WC DH this weekend
Keegan Wright excited to be racing some WC DH this weekend

High speed motorway with a view.
High-speed motorway with a view.

First the umbrellas were for the sun and ten minutes later they were out for the rain. You ve got to love mountain weather in the summertime.
First the umbrellas were for the sun, and ten minutes later they were out for the rain. You've got to love mountain weather in the summertime.

Tracey Hannah is definitely over the rain after last week
Tracey Hannah is definitely over the rain after last week.

And just like that the lights went out and a storm rolled in.
And just like that the lights went out and a storm rolled in.

The MX kicker gaps look larger than ever to riders who may now have to push to clear them.
The MX kicker gaps look larger than ever to riders who may now have to push to clear them.

Loony toons Greenland took 3rd here in 2018.
Loony toons Greenland took 3rd here in 2018.

Classic Leogang tunnel vision.
Classic Leogang tunnel vision.

Best of luck to Tahnee Seagrave with her shoulder surgery this afternoon.
Best of luck to Tahnee Seagrave with her shoulder surgery this afternoon.

Chunky sharp edges.
Chunky sharp edges.

The stump section is going to be one people will puzzle over.
The stump section is going to be one people will puzzle over.

Vali Holl trying to line things up between all the steps and roots.
Vali Holl trying to line things up between all the steps and roots.

Looking to put wrongs to right... Last year Luca Shaw took the qualies by storm and was the last man down the mountain but crashed out for finals.
Looking to put wrongs to right... Last year Luca Shaw took the qualies by storm and was the last man down the mountain, but crashed out for finals.

The trust just isn t there after last weekend.
The trust just isn't there after last weekend.

The rains here dump a lot of moisture in a very short time but often don t s tick around too long.
The rains here dump a lot of moisture in a very short time but often don't stick around for very long.

Plenty of chicken wire ensures no one will be sliding off any wooden features this weekend.
Plenty of chicken wire ensures no one will be sliding off any wooden features this weekend.

Leogang wallrides.... you know em.
Leogang wallrides.... you know 'em.

The final jump off the motor way hurls riders into thew woods an full speed.
The final jump off the motorway hurls riders into the woods at full speed.

Some of the new sections are very steep and very off camber. Expect to see lots of roots working there way to the surface once the loam gets pushed away.
Some of the new sections are very steep and very off camber. Expect to see lots of roots working their way to the surface once the loam gets pushed away.

Fast and furious towards the bottom of the track. A few riders have had some major crashes here including last years first place qualifier Luca Shaw.
Fast and furious towards the bottom of the track. A few riders have had some major crashes here including last year's first place qualifier Luca Shaw.

There are still plenty of roots ion Leogang and more will surely appear in the fresh cut sections.
There are still plenty of roots in Leogang, and more will surely appear in the fresh cut sections.

The bottom woods is the only time the track runs under the gondola and the only time riders can survey lines from above during practice.
The bottom woods is the only time the track runs under the gondola and the only time riders can survey lines from above during practice.

Fresh loam section with lines yet to form. More of this please.
Fresh loam section with lines yet to form. More of this, please.

There might still be a stump or two that need cutting down in the new bits of track.
There might still be a stump or two that need cutting down in the new bits of track.

Another death nub in the fresh cut. hopefully they get them pulled before practice in the morning.
Another death nub in the fresh cut. Hopefully they get them pulled before practice in the morning.

Eyes ahead to another weekend of World Cup racing
Eyes ahead to another weekend of World Cup racing!

Fresh loam Yes please even if it s just for a second.
Fresh loam? Yes, please, even if it's just for a second.

Say what The now course diverts off to the right of the fade- away that has escorted riders down to the finish line for so many seasons.
Say what? The now course diverts off to the right of the fadeaway that has escorted riders down to the finish line for so many seasons.

The finish has been changed quite a bit and riders now dart into the woods rather than straight line it off the rocky chute.
The finish has been changed quite a bit and riders now dart into the woods rather than straightline it off the rocky chute.

Summer is here and it appears to have been around these parts for some time.
Summer is here and it appears to have been around these parts for some time.

Hard drops at high speed. That berm has been blown before.
Hard drops at high speed. That berm has been blown before.

It s good to be back in the mountains.
It's good to be back in the mountains.

4th in the series Dan the man is well in touch with Bruni and not far behind Pierron and leader Brosnan.
4th in the series, Dan the man is well in touch, with Bruni and not far behind Pierron and leader Troy Brosnan.

A puddle of Fort William mayhem after all the riders brought their suspension in to be serviced.
A puddle of Fort William mayhem after all the riders brought their suspension in to be serviced.

You just can t help seeing a chain without remembering the most ridiculous and incredible thing in downhill racing right here in Leogang. Of course when Aaron Gwin took the win in 2015 with one...
You just can't help seeing a chain without remembering the most ridiculous and incredible thing in downhill racing right here in Leogang. Of course when Aaron Gwin took the win in 2015 without one...

Finishing touches from John Hall on the Gwizard s new ride.
Finishing touches from John Hall on the Gwizard's new ride.

The French with a style all their own when the sun is shining.
The French with a style all their own when the sun is shining.

Brake pistons getting cleaned after the Fort William grit worked its way into everything.
Brake pistons getting cleaned after the Fort William grit worked its way into everything.

Lots of fresh wheel were being built after the Fort William beat down.
Lots of fresh wheels were being built after the Fort William beat down.

After a rough weekend up in the Highlands mother nature and the UCI World Cup finally seem at peace with eacother.
After a rough weekend up in the Highlands, Mother Nature and the UCI World Cup finally seem at peace with each other.


MENTIONS: @natedh9 @davetrumpore @mdelorme @andy9 @rossbellphoto




37 Comments

  • + 92
 What’s happened to the photos this year - they’ve always been amazing but the game has stepped up another level again!

More of the same, please, chaps and lasses. We bloody love it.
  • + 17
 You ain't lying- this whole article was spectacular!
  • + 5
 Gotta agree - kudos to the photogs and editors. This is better than evAr
  • + 46
 Wonderful mix of photography, even if that B &W of the refuse bin at the suspension shop looks disturbingly like a brothel dumpster.
  • + 23
 Top notch quality content, pinkbike. Thanks for the great photos!
  • + 21
 "Old man Gee" Smile ... is that enough to light a fire in his British belly to pilot his steed to glory???
  • + 1
 I guess Windham finally retired so Gee is it now.
  • + 13
 Whatta ya call a group of violent lions with weapons?
  • + 7
 Dad joke game +1000
  • + 4
 Leogang?
  • + 1
 Prydeful?
  • + 1
 a gang of lions?
  • + 12
 I don't know which of the stomp corner or Loic is the more taped
  • + 8
 Ah, the views. Leogang's got em.
  • + 11
 Leogang is rooted with em
  • + 5
 @SnowshoeRider4Life: one could argue that they’d be stumped to think of another location with these vistas.
  • + 4
 Who ever dares to watch this photostory on his mobile phone -> get the f* outta here.
Every single photo in this article deserves the widest screen you got
  • + 4
 It's like some sort of fortune cookie game - you can end almost every caption with "...with a view".
  • + 4
 If it was a drinking game no one would make it the the Comments section.....

"...with a view". Drink!
  • + 3
 Looks like an improvement, should be a fantastic race!
  • + 3
 Personally, I'd be killed by looking at the view instead the trail....
  • + 3
 We’d be killed looking at the trail with full attention!
  • + 1
 @cuban-b: not going to disagree...
  • + 2
 Anyone got a good shot of that first corner out of the gate?
  • + 2
 No, but there are pictures of rain on the cement.
  • + 1
 “A puddle of Fort William mayhem”, is that what kids call it there days
  • + 2
 Troy will flying this race, those Canyons pedal like a hardtail.
  • + 1
 death nub looks scary. rest of the track doesnt look like a worldcup dh track. beautiful photos though.
  • + 2
 More wall rides please
  • + 1
 Yeah, I think most riders would prefer a completely wooden track.
  • + 1
 What's up with the plate on the spd cleats? Never seen it done before.
  • + 2
 its a shim, they come with them.
  • + 1
 And the shim is in case things are too tight between the pedal and sole and interfering with clipping/unclipping. Instead of shaving the shoe you can add a cleat shim to raise the shoe from the pedal
  • + 1
 What's the deal with the sketchy wall rides instead of some dirt berms?
  • + 1
 Leogang - such a cool track! Mixing it up to keep the pros in the zone!
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