Young British rider Tahnée Seagrave won her maiden UCI Mountain Bike World Cup race in Leogang on Sunday as American Aaron Gwin opened his 2017 downhill account in style.
In the women’s race, much of the pre-race focus was on series leader, Tracey Hannah. The Australian had won her first race in five years at the previous round in Fort William, Scotland and had again topped the Austrian times in Saturday’s qualifying session.
Seagrave, though, was out to make good on both a disappointing home race and the absence of the 2016 World Cup champion, Rachel Atherton, who was missing due to a dislocated shoulder sustained in the Highlands.
Twenty-one-year-old Seagrave took on the tricky track from the outset and crossed the line in a great time of 3minutes 36.082seconds to displace the incumbent hot seat occupier, Frenchwoman Myriam Nicole.
Her run had perfectly melded risk with outright pace, all she could do now was wait on Hannah. As the splits clicked by it was clear that it was going to be close and the crowd at the finish held their breath.
The Aussie crossed the line just 0.693 seconds back from Seagrave, who was immediately embraced by her family and team that had helped her learn her trade in Morzine, France.
Seagrave enthused, “I have been waiting so long to get a win. I knew I could make up time. Tracey is so fast and has been a roll so I new I had to give it my all.
“I had a couple of mistakes and I was pedalling really hard, it was so close. To finally get it is just a relief more than anything. I will keep fighting.”
Hannah said, “Obviously I was going for the win after winning in qualifying. The track changed a bit and you just have to see how you go. I am pretty happy with second in the end.
“Near the bottom, there is one wet corner where I laid on the back wheel and I thought I was down. Complete opposite to Fort William. Good to get another race out the way.”
The series continues July 1-2 in Vallnord, Andorra.
Source: Red Bull Media House GmbH