Inside four chaotic and revelatory days in Leogang
Not only was Leogang the site of the first ever MTB World Cup triple — with XC, downhill and enduro all taking place at the same site — but it proved to be the perfect venue for chaotic racing. Its slopes are steep. Its weather is unpredictable. And with the competition level climbing higher and higher across all disciplines and levels of the sport, there was barely enough time to catch your breath as a fan.
In short, Leogang was a reminder of just how stunning and powerful bike racing can be.
Eleven Trek Factory Racing athletes took on the treacherous terrain for four days of revelatory, reinvigorating and eye-watering racing. There was a lot to unpack. Here are the three biggest takeaways from by far the busiest World Cup yet.
TFR XC is realizing just how deep it is
Leogang showcased just how much talent resides on the TFR XC roster, and what the squad could accomplish in the coming weeks.
Jolanda Neff, Vlad Dascalu and Anton Cooper all seem to be finding their strides, each with their first top 10 finishes of the season. Gwendalyn Gibson too. She took 12th in XCO and eighth in short track. Evie Richards had a rough go in her XCO race due to mechanical issues, but she took third in short track, and with a podium already this year, we know the former World Champion is in strong form.
In the U23 events, Maddie Munro had her best finish so far this season, taking seventh place in XCO, and Riley Amos took second in short track.
The level across the squad is rising higher and higher as the season rounds into shape. With five rounds of World Cup racing still to go, it will be fascinating to see how these riders continue to progress. There is a lot of great racing still to come.
Bodhi Kuhn is on the cusp of big things
Kuhn has now finished second in all four of his DH World Cup qualifying and finals runs this season, behind three different riders. It feels like a matter of when, not if, he will finally stand on the top step of a podium this season. In the meantime, he is plenty happy to be leading the junior standings.
The 18-year-old has been by far the most consistent rider in his category. And his finals run on Friday was his best yet.
Qualifying P2 meant he had to wait longer than all but one other rider to finally bomb down the track. While he waited, rain rolled into the venue, turning the fast, loose dirt into sticky, wheel-sucking mud. The young Canadian wasn’t phased. He threw down the second fastest time of the day behind a rider who recorded the fastest time from P18.
Kuhn seems to be getting better with every race. We’re watching a rider come into his own before our very own eyes.
Hattie Harnden is looking like her old self
Harnden has big goals in enduro this season after finishing third overall in the Enduro World Series standings last year at just 21 years old. But she struggled by her own admission at her last race in Pietra Ligure, where she finished ninth after failing to place top five on a single stage for the first time in her career.
In Leogang, she was back to her old tricks. She placed in the top five in all but one stage, and took second on Stage 5 to finish fifth on the day.
Harnden is one of the hardest working athletes in cycling, as well as an incredible multi-talent who took ninth in downhill in Lenzerheide last weekend. If there’s anyone who can quickly engineer a bounce back performance, it’s her. And right on time, she showed in Leogang that she’s right on track for all of her ambitions.
More images from Leogang, courtesy of photographer Ross Bell.