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UCI World Cup Round 6 @ Leogang - 20/22 September 2013

Heading into world cup finals at Leogang my aim was still to crack the top 30 after finishing 34th in Hafjell. I knew it was going to be a challenge, as I’m strongest when it comes to technical trails, and the Leogang world cup track lacks much of this. It is mainly bike park style trails and lots and lots of pedalling. None-the-less I like to think of myself as a well rounded rider and therefore a top 30 was very achievable going into this race.

We arrived to wet weather but a forecast for clearer and clearer skies as the weekend progresses. The track was quite wet for the start of practice but I decided to stick with Schwalbe Muddy Marys instead of the Dirty Dan because most of the track is hard pack. I knew I was going use Magic Marys for my qualifying and race runs after finding them to be so good on race day in Hafjell, but only having one set I had to protect them and not practice on them too much.

By the end of the first day of practice I was getting on well with the track and was starting to feel fast. There had been periods of rain throughout the day, so parts of the track had remained pretty moist and slippery. There were a few very deep ruts in places, especially in the new sections, and on the whole the track was more fun to ride than I’d expected.

Qualifying day. I’ve never qualified at Leogang before, so hopefully it was going to be third time lucky! In 2010 it was straight after my university exams and I wasn’t fit enough so crashed a few times on the way down. In 2011 I was doing fine on the splits but crashed in the last corner knocking myself out and having to go off to hospital with a bad concussion. I thought this time surely I’ll get the better of this place…

And that I did. I put a smooth fast run together and got the job done comfortably qualifying in 44th place feeling like I had a good amount of time in the bag for racing the next day. That top 30 was in touching distance!

Race day brought really nice weather. I would have preferred a wet track as this would have made the wooded sections more technical, favouring my riding style. Regardless I felt awesome by the end of practice and ready to put a good run together! I headed up for my run feeling confident and after a good warm up I was in the start gate and ready to make the magic happen.

I pushed as hard as I could from the get go. I almost crashed a few times in the top sections as I carved through the rough sweeping bermed section before the first of two pedally sections. However I kept the bike pointing in the right direction, and then got on the pedals hard as I left the last corner of this section. I had a nice run through the top wooded section, before popping out into the open and being faced with the long pedal all the way to the top of the bottom wooded section and technical stuff. I pushed as hard as could and went flying into the bottom woods knowing I was in with a good chance of achieving my goal. I made no mistakes to the bottom and crossed the line into 5th place. I was well happy with my run!

In Hafjell the week before I’d qualified 53rd and when I’d come down in my run I’d gone into 5th place and that had been good enough for 34th. Therefore I thought I’d surely done enough for a top 30 this time. However as rider after rider came down and narrowly beat my time by mere tenths of seconds it looked more and more unlikely. The track wasn’t technical enough to lose riders due to crashes and mistakes. I ended up finishing in 36th place, 1.2 seconds off 30th. I’m still really happy with this result and it’s a fantastic end to the world cup season for me, despite not quite achieving my goal – aim high right!

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