French and Swiss riders dominate rivals over steep, technical Austrian XCO course

Leogang XCO Race Report

(Mathias Flueckiger, on his way to a perfect XC weekend at Leogang. Photo by Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool)

Loana Lecomte and Mathias Flueckiger dominated the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup stop in Leogang as they triumphed in both the XCC and XCO races. Here is all you need to know:

– Even though the weather was much improved from last year’s World Championships, the steep, technical descents and savage climbs remained a real test and produced some brilliant racing.

– France’s Lecomte was already the woman to beat coming into the third round, following dominant performances in the opening two stops, and a win in Friday’s Short Track only added to the hype.

(Loana Lecomte is dominating the Elite Women’s XC ranks this year.  her first year since moving up from the U23 ranks. Photo by Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool)

– She stuck to the wheel of fast-starting world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot before opening a gap on the first full lap and never looking troubled thereafter to win by a comfortable 1m48s and make it three wins from the first three races, the first woman in 15 years to achieve the feat.

– The final lap was all action in the battle for the podium places, with Austrian Laura Stigger on the attack and dropping Ferrand-Prevot but then being overtaken by fast-finishing Olympic champion Jenny Rissveds.

– Swede Rissveds, 27, said: “I have been struggling with my self confidence the last couple of weeks, so this has been a very good race. I have been practicing a lot to commit fully. It is very scary to go all in because it hurts and there is always a chance of making mistakes.”

– The men’s race played out in similar fashion to Friday’s XCO with Flueckiger and Czech rival Ondrej Cink repeating their first and second places after Flueckiger broke clear on the penultimate lap.

– Behind them, the fight for the podium positions was entertaining with Kiwi Anton Cooper easily ahead of Frenchman Thomas Griot, who held off Romanian Vlad Dascalu in a photo finish for fourth.

– Flueckiger, 32, said: “It was more mental for me. I was still a bit tired in my mind from Friday. More and more in the race I found my rhythm and I could find a gap to Ondrej. I knew I had to attack because, when it was constant climbs out there, he was a bit stronger.”

– Cink, 30, added: “He was very fast in the downhill compared to me so made a little gap and, after that, he tried to push and I couldn’t catch him. He was better today and congratulations to him.”

– Cooper, 26, said: “I was in no man’s land for a lot of the race. I tried to stay on Ondrej’s wheel but I had to be smart at it and ride my own pace as I could not go with those guys on the climbs.”

– The riders return to action in XCC and XCO at Les Gets in France from July 3-4.

Men’s XCO result
1. Mathias Flueckiger SUI 1:15.50
2. Ondrej Cink CZE +0.14
3. Anton Cooper NZL +0.45
4. Thomas Griot FRA +1.26
5. Vlad Dascalu ROU +1.27

Men’s XCO standings
1. Mathias Flueckiger SUI 794 points
2. Ondrej Cink CZE 654
3. Victor Koretzky FRA 623
4. Mathieu van der Poel NED 570
5. Anton Cooper NZL 570

Women’s XCO result
1. Loana Lecomte FRA 1:17.03
2. Jenny Rissveds SWE +1.48
3. Laura Stigger AUT +1.50
4. Jolanda Neff SUI +2.02
5. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot FRA +2.30

Women’s XCO standings
1. Loana Lecomte FRA 1045 points
2. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot FRA 680
3. Haley Batten USA 669
4. Rebecca McConnell AUS 544
5. Linda Indergand SUI 533

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