It’s the perfect finish to the weekend for Vali Höll and Loic Bruni at round three of the UCI Downhill World Cup in Saalfelden Leogang.

Sunday, 09.06.2024

It’s the perfect finish to the weekend for Vali Höll and Loic Bruni at round three of the UCI Downhill World Cup in Saalfelden Leogang.

The reigning World Champions and overall World Cup leaders extend their leads with big wins on finals day of the WHOOP UCI Mountain Bike World Series in Austria's largest bike-region Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn.

Vali Höll runs away with the race win in Leogang 
Vali took the clean sweep when it mattered, winning qualifying, semi-finals and finals at home in Leogang. Heavy overnight rain would create some challenging conditions on track, especially in the critical lower woods section. Höll would have green splits all the way down the hill, increasing her lead to take the win by 7.102 seconds.

America’s Anna Newkirk (BEYOND RACING) would take second place, her first ever World Cup podium. France’s Myriam Nicole (COMMENCAL/MUC-OFF BY RIDING ADDICTION) would be back in her first finals run since 2022 returning from concussion and would occupy the hot seat well into the top qualifiers and would take third place. Switzerland’s Lisa Baumann (COMMENCAL LES ORRES) would also take her first World Cup podium taking the fourth spot on the podium. Winner in Poland, France’s Marine Cabirou (SCOTT DOWNHILL FACTORY) would take fifth.

Germany’s Nina Hoffman (SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE) would lose the bike on the fresh off-camber section high on the track and would crash again in the woods. New Zealand’s Jess Blewitt (CUBE FACTORY RACING) and Britain’s Tahnée Seagrave (CANYON CLLCTV FMD) would both have a two second advantage into the woods before crashing.

Before the weekend started, only 70 points separated the top 5 women in the overall standings, with only 30 between overall leader Valentina Höll, second place Tahnee Seagrave and third place Camille Balanche. Balanche would opt not to race finals as her concussion recovery continues.

Vali Höll had this to say about her run: “It's been insane. I didn't feel like I was riding like myself in Fort William, then I had a crash in Poland and missed the podium. I knew it was going to be a tough one at home in Leogang. Man, I appreciate it. Thanks to all my coaches, my team, my parents, to everyone. The woods were the crucial section. You can win or lose the race here. I watched the Junior race, saw Erice's run and thought if she can do it, then I didn't want to get beaten by her. I don't think anyone expected Leogang to be that technical. Riders complained that Leogang was too easy but man, this track is not easy at all. It is so rough and so hard to hold your line. Happy to steer it home and go back-to-back from last year. I don't know how long I can keep doing that, it's a lot of pressure. I love it.”

Second place Anna Newkirk said: “My run was good, I played it safe and didn't take too many risks and I think that paid off. I'm so stoked right now I can't believe it. I felt good on track all week. I've had issues at Leogang in the past so it was my goal to make Leogang my bitch so I'm happy that it worked out.“

Results DH Women Top 5:
1.    Valentina Höll (AUT | YT MOB) 3:40:141
2.    Anna Newkirk (USA | BEYOND RACING) 3:47:243
3.    Myriam Nicole (FRA | COMMENCAL/MUC-OFF BY RIDING ADDICTION) 3:47:980
4.    Lisa Baumann (SUI | COMMENCAL LES ORRES) 3:48:087
5.    Marine Cabirou (FRA | SCOTT DOWNHILL FACTORY) 3:49:848

Results DH Women Top 5 Overall:
1.    Valentina Höll (AUT | YT MOB) 960 Pts.
2.    Tahnée Seagrave (GBR | CANYON CLLCTV FMD) 670 Pts.
3.    Marine Cabirou (FRA | SCOTT DOWNHILL FACTORY) 647 Pts.
4.    Nina Hoffmann (GER | SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE) 580 Pts.
5.    Anna Newkirk (USA | BEYOND RACING) 545 Pts.

It’s Loic Bruni who makes the best of the changing conditions in Austria
France’s Loic Bruni (SPECIALIZED GRAVITY) would back up his semi-final win to be the only rider to go faster than his team mate by 2.394 seconds. The current World Champion and overall World Cup leader would go green at all but one split.
As the course conditions continued to improve, Canada’s Finn Iles (SPECIALIZED GRAVITY) would be the longest on the hot seat despite not putting down a timed run in qualifying or semi-finals due to injuring his thumb in practice. 
New Zealand’s Lachlan Stevens-McNab (UNION – FORGED BY STEEL CITY) would back up his pace from Poland by finishing in third, taking his first ever World Cup podium in the process. Ireland’s Oisin O’Callaghan (YT MOB) took fourth, with Benoit Coulanges (DORVAL AM COMMENCAL) completing the podium in fifth even though he missed the cut in semi-finals yesterday.

Loic Bruni would go into the weekend with a 160 point lead in the overall but behind him there would only be 30 points separating 2nd place Ronan Dunne and 6th place Finn Iles. 
This is what Loic Bruni had to say about his finals run: “That was incredible. I really didn't think I didn't have it today with the conditions changing so much compared to yesterday which was more my style. I was trying everything I had, and I was depending on the track drying, so I was happy to go last. I had so many thoughts in my head at the start, I was focusing so much on the first corner before dropping in that I blew it, then I got going after the motorway and the woods were so much better than I expected, so I'm happy. The track is a mix of everything, so physical because you're pushing the whole way and minimizing mistakes was key. I'm happy I did. I'm really proud of Finn, Jordan already did well too. Finn taking the day off was a good decision, props to him for riding so fast without racing yesterday.”

Finn Iles spoke about his weekend: ”I'm really proud of this weekend. I fought through a lot of things especially after not riding yesterday. I'm really happy that my team supports me in the way that I do. Going through the motions to understand that yesterday riding just wasn't an option, I was completely off, my hand was too swollen. I just didn't want to risk anything. To trust that I was able to come out today and put down a performance makes me really thankful to have the people around me that I do. I mean, I got smoked by Loic, but I think first and second is pretty incredible. The bike has been amazing to us this weekend. What the team did with the changing conditions, me not riding and all that, they've done a fantastic job. I'm stoked to be here.” 

Results DH Men Top 5:
1.    Loic Bruni (FRA | SPECIALIZED GRAVITY) 3:05:523
2.    Finn Iles (SPECIALIZED GRAVITY) 3:07:917
3.    Lachlan Stevens-McNab (NZL | UNION – FORGED BY STEEL CITY MEDIA) 3:08:638
4.    Oisin O’Callaghan (IRL | YT MOB) 3:08:757
5.    Benoit Coulanges (FRA | DORVAL AM COMMENCAL) 3:08:784

Results DH Men Top 5 Overall:
1.    Loic Bruni (FRA | SPECIALIZED GRAVITY) 997 Pts.
2.    Luca Shaw (USA | CANYON CLLCTV FACTORY TEAM) 677 Pts.
3.    Finn Iles (SPECIALIZED GRAVITY) 647 Pts.
4.    Troy Brosnan (AUS | CANYON CLLCTV FACTORY TEAM) 621 Pts.
5.    Ronan Dunne (IRL | MONDRAKER FACTORY TEAM) 605 Pts.

Erice van Leuven and Max Alran strike Austrian gold in the Junior downhill race
Scotland’s Heather Wilson (MUC-OFF YOUNG GUNS) would look to extend her lead in the overall title race by seeing off three fast New Zealanders, current World Champion, Erice van Leuven (COMMENCAL LES ORRES), Sacha Earnest (TREK FACTORY RACING) and Eliana Hulsebosch (UNION – FORGED BY STEEL CITY MEDIA).

Current World Champion Erice van Leuven would top the podium, pipping Eliana Hulsebosch who held onto a wild ride in the woods, to the win by 4.718 seconds. Heather Wilson would be hot on the heels of Hulsebosch in third.
Erice van Leuven summed up her run: “It was pretty good, in the morning I had bit of a tumble close to the top of the track on the off camber. That was a bit sore and a bit annoying to do on my last run before the race. It was a really good run. Conditions were improving a little bit which was nice but still very slick in the bottom woods, so I was holding onto the horse there a bit. I'm looking forward to Les Gets, I didn't race there last year because of a crash in practice so I am excited to race there.“

Results DH Junior Women Top 5:
1.    Erice van Leuven (NZL | COMMENCAL LES ORRES) 3:54:132
2.    Eliana Hulsebosch (NZL | UNION – FORGED BY STEEL CITY MEDIA) 3:58:850
3.    Heather Wilson (GBR | MUC-OFF YOUNG GUNS) 3:58:875
4.    Ella Svegby (SWE) 4:05:667
5.    Sacha Mills (AUS | SCOTT DOWNHILL FACTORY) 4:15:394

Results DH Junior Women Top 5 Overall:
1.    Heather Wilson (GBR | MUC-OFF YOUNG GUNS) 165 Pts.
2.    Erice van Leuven (NZL | COMMENCAL LES ORRES) 145 Pts.
3.    Eliana Hulsebosch (NZL | UNION – FORGED BY STEEL CITY MEDIA) 135 Pts.
4.    Sacha Earnest (NZL | TREK FACTORY RACING GRAVITY) 100 Pts.
5.    Matilda Melton (USA | TRANSITION FACTORY RACING) 100 Pts.

Downhill prodigy Asa Vermette (FRAMEWORKS RACING) won in both Fort William and Poland and would look to do the same in Leogang. His closest rivals, Luke Wayman (GRAVITY CARTEL – ROGUE RACING) and Dane Jewett (PIVOT FACTORY RACING) are tied on points in second and third in the overall some forty points adrift.

France’s Max Alran (COMMENCAL/MUC-OFF BY RIDING ADDICTION) would put down a deceptively clean run to take the win ahead of Dane Jewett by just 0.419 seconds. Switzerland’s Mike Huter (GAMUX FACTORY RACING) closed out the top three.
Vermette’s run would come unstuck in the stumps, pushing hard, he lost the bike crashing just before the motorway section. Dane Jewett would move head in the overall as a result by a mere 5 points. 
Speaking after the race, Max Alran said: “I'm feeling great, the track was so good. It was pretty scary, but I like those conditions. I was pretty confident for the race. I didn't feel great on the upper bottom section, but I was kinda fast. First win and first podium so I'm really happy.”

Results DH Junior Men Top 5:
2.    Dane Jewett (CAN | PIVOT FACTORY RACING) 3:17:711
3.    Mike Huter (SUI | GAMUX FACTORY RACING) 3:20:169
4.    Luke Wayman (NZL | THE GRAVITY CARTEL – ROGUE RACING) 3:20:454
5.    Mylann Falquet (FRA | GOODMAN SANTACRUZ) 3:23:744

Results DH Junior Men Top 5 Overall:
1.    Dane Jewett (CAN | PIVOT FACTORY RACING) 130 Pts.
2.    Asa Vermette (USA | FRAMEWORKS RACING)125 Pts.
3.    Luke Wayman (NZL | THE GRAVITY CARTEL – ROGUE RACING) 120 Pts.
5.    Mylann Falquet (FRA | GOODMAN SANTACRUZ) 87 Pts.