Thursday Wrap-Up: UCI 2020 Mountain Bike World Championships
Junior Men and Junior Women tackled the Cross-Country course in the chase of the rainbow jersey, and the Downhill riders put tires to dirt in Leogang for the first time since last year’s World Cup.
Riders take to the new Leogang track
Today's Downhill training was the first real opportunity this year to see the world's best Downhill riders in action, and right away, everything is on the line – with World Championship titles up for grabs over the weekend.
Impressions from yesterday’s track walk left many riders puzzled on how to tackle the new section in the woods, made up of an insanely steep, muddy section as well as a big gap jump, which probably ranks Top 3 on the World Cup circuit when it comes to size.
For Valentina Höll, Austria’s National Champion and World Cup Junior phenom, this will be her first World Championships as part of the Women Elite ranks. The young Austrian is no stranger to the podium of a World Championship, winning the Junior title in 2018 and 2019.
“The new part of the track is definitely interesting and I’m sure that not a lot of people thought that it would be so tricky. My first practice run felt good. The conditions were already a lot better than during the track walk and once the ruts formed, it was actually pretty grippy. The river gap will really be an interesting feature. I believe that, from the women, only Tahnée Seagrave and I have jumped it so far. You definitely do not want to land short on this one,” said Vali following her first few practice laps.
In the meantime, the Cross-Country riders had the chance as well to practice and get a few laps in on the new course – build specifically for this year’s UCI World Championships presented by Mercedes Benz.
The fight for the rainbow jerseys today was all on the Juniors – Men and Women. In Women Juniors Mona Mitterwallner (AUT) was one of the clear podium favorites, having just won the last Junior race in Nové Město.
Mona Mitterwallner (AUT) Dominates Early, Secures First Gold for Austria
Just like yesterday, racers face a steep, muddy climb from the get-go, that proved treacherous, being both dry and slick at the same time. Riders capable of conquering this early climb without putting a foot down or getting off of their bike were able to put substantial distance between themselves and the chaser pack.
Podium favorites Mona Mitterwallner (AUT) and Puck Pieterse (NLD) got off to a flying start and led the pack early, but the Austrian racer would prove to be too strong for Pieterse and the rest of the field, climbing her way to a commanding lead of over 90 seconds at the first split of the third lap. Meanwhile, Cornelia Holland (AUT), Matylda Szczecinska (POL) and Madigan Munro (USA) dropped back early and were not able to put their bid in for a podium spot.
Tyrolean Mitterwallner dominated the race after dropping her Dutch rival and increased her lead with every lap, not letting the tricky conditions slow her down, finishing the race in 1:15:55, almost two minutes faster than her German rival Luisa Daubermann.
“Today was insane. I had a really bad crash that threw me out of my rhythm and then my chain also dropped twice because of all the mud and dirt, so I focused on staying calm in order not to make any mistakes. The hard work was all worth it – I’m World Champion, winning a “home” World Championship here in Leogang is just so, so special.”
Daubermann, the 2018 & 2019 German National Champion, and Aneta Novotna (CZE) took full advantage of the field opening up early and snuck into the Top 5 during the early laps. Daubermann and Novotna battled with each other frantically and worked their way up to medal position as the race unfolded, with both riders pressing the pace and separating themselves from the chasers. The German young gun would finish her race with a silver medal, finishing at 1:17:51 and the Czech rider followed shortly after in third place, with a time of 1:18:31.
Lennart-Jan Krayer (GER) Strikes from Behind to Secure First Gold for Germany
Riley Amos (USA) shot out of the start like a bullet from a gun, hungry to jump to an early lead, which he managed to maintain during the first part of the race. In lap two, a fight for first broke out between the American and Luca Martin (FRA). As the race went on, more and more riders would push the attack on the leaders.
Janis Baumann (SUI) and Lennart-Jan Krayer (GER) spent the first two laps orchestrating a comeback from the middle of the field and capitalized on the misfortune of Amos Riley – overtaking him, as well as Martin during the final stretches of the second lap, with Baumann flying to a sizeable advantage over the two chasers.
Hot on the heels of Baumann, Lennart-Jan Krayer (GER) joined the fray in a three-way battle between Martin, Baumann and himself. This rivalry would last for the remainder of the race, with Amos trying fiercely to get out of fourth position fighting for a medal.
The fight for rainbow jersey was well and truly on, with Baumann and Krayer locked in a heated battle heading into the final lap. The German sneakily peaked over his shoulder during the climb to see how much of a lead he had and spent the rest of the lap putting more distance in between him and the Swiss chaser. The advantage held by the German rider would prove too big to overcome and Krayer crossed the finish line in 1:16:39, securing the first German gold medal of the week, 40 seconds ahead of Baumann who, curiously, had to run his bike across the finish line.
With an incredible last half lap, the battle for Bronze would be decided in the very final stretch of the race. Martin and Amos were wheel-to-wheel headed into the final two turns before the finish, but the French rider dug deep in the final sprint to secure another medal for France, finishing the race in 1:18:03.