The weather definitely played a role in the third round of the UCI Downhill World Cup presented by Shimano in Leogang, Austria, as sticky mud slowed times down from qualifying a day earlier.
Aaron Gwin reclaimed the men’s World Cup lead from rival Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) with a dominating performance. Gwin, winner of round one but who managed only fifth place in Fort William last week, qualified fastest. He went on to finish over two seconds ahead of Gee Atherton (Commençal) in the final. Minnaar finished nearly six seconds back in third place. Gwin, with 628 points, lies just 46 points in front of Minnaar, with two rounds remaining.
Minnaar, the winner of round two, set the first sub-3:50 time with seven riders to go, and no one could match his time until the final two riders, the top two qualifiers, showed that they were a notch above everyone else on this day. Atherton came through the first split three seconds up on Minnaar and finished 3.608 seconds faster than the South African.
Atherton’s time wouldn’t prove to be enough for the win, unfortunately for the Brit, as Gwin, possibly still smarting from losing a week earlier after crashing while well in the lead, blew through every section of the course well ahead of his competition to score his second win in three races and recover the lead in the standings.
“It feels great to get that monkey off my back after last week’s crash,” commented Gwin. “I knew I had it in me, I just had to put it together. My run went good until it almost fell apart at the bottom … I blew my feet out of the pedals and rode the last minute of the track without being clipped in, but managed to hold it together. The bike was working awesome, everything just sort of clicked. I’m just happy it all came together.”