Sunny skies and warm weather greeted the world’s best mountain bikers in Leogang, Austria this past weekend. Round 3 of the MTB World Cup would be a hot and dusty affair, with the elite cross-country events offering one unexpected winner, and one winner we’re starting to become quite familiar with.
The elite women’s race played host to another masterclass from a 21-year-old superstar in the making, Puck Pieterse. The Dutchwoman got clear on the opening lap and rode all the way to the finish on her own, taking her second World Cup win in three events, in her first season in the elite ranks.
In the elite men’s race, Switzerland’s Lars Forster rode a largely anonymous race … until he worked his way to the front of affairs by the penultimate lap. A stinging attack at the start of the final lap paved the way for his first World Cup win in four years.
Photographer Piper Albrecht was in Leogang to capture all the action over the weekend. You can see his photos below, with a few additional photos appearing courtesy of Bartek Wolinski and the Red Bull Content Pool.
A show for the show.A few big tabletop jumps offered a good spectactle. Nick Burki styles it up in course practice.And the men are off. A clearly in-form Luca Schwarzbauer takes the holeshot. (Photo by Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool.)You would normally associate the use of dropper posts with steep and technical terrain, but most riders were employing them for the loose and off-camber grass fields in order to keep their centre of gravity low. Here we see Belgian rider Pierre De Froidmont demonstrating this while in the first-lap lead.The start lap was a cloud of dust and peaking heart rates. (Photo by Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool.)Romanian champ Vlad Dascalu was in the mix early on and would go on to finish 10th.(Photo by Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool)Switzerland’s Lars Forster rode a rather unassuming race for much of the event. (Photo by Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool)The wooded section offered some steep and root-filled descents.Having won in Leogang in 2022, Mathias Flückiger was looking on pace for another win. However a rear flat from within one of the root-filled descents brought a sudden change to the race. (Photo by Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool)Jordan Sarrou grinding away on one of the many exposed climbs.Meanwhile Flückiger’s new Thömus Maxon teammate, Forster, was picking up speed. (Photo by Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool)It was a great day for the Canyon-CLLCTV team, Thomas Griot (pictured) would finish in seventh place, while teammate Luca Schwarzbauer landed on the second step of the podium.South African rider, Alan Hatherly, continued his strong form from a second-place finish at last week’s round in Lenzerheide. He finished in fourth place. (Photo by Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool)Brazilian superstar rider Henrique Avancini had a rough day at the office, finishing in 64th position. Can’t fault those views, though. (Photo by Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool)Meanwhile dreams were coming true for Forster as he caught the fading leaders in the final lap …… and crossed the line with time to celebrate. This was Forster’s second World Cup win, four years after his first.Last week it was Nino Schurter with the win, this week it was another Swiss rider.Patience pays off for Forstner. (Photo by Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool)Many pained faces crossed the finish line following Forster. New Zealand’s Anton Cooper had a strong ride with an eighth-place finish.Lars Forster on the top step, with Luca Schwarzbauer (second) and Ondrej Cink (third) beside him.