No, this is not a repeat of last weekend’s blog post, it is just the fact the TLD Ladies are on fire this year and took over the podium again at round 3 of the UCI World Cup Downhill series. This time in Leogang Austria! The biggest news out of this weekend must be the stellar performance of Camille Balanche, the Swiss rider takes her 2nd win for the 22’ series but also her 3rd Leogang win in a row! solidifying herself as the Queen of Leogang.
Adding to the significant win by Camille (she won by a monster 11.3 seconds) was her being joined by 2 other TLD riders with Eleonora Farina of Italy in 3rd and Cami’s DORVAL/Commencal teammate: Monika Hrastnik of Slovenia in 5th place. Race favourite and young local hero Vali Höll who qualified 2nd, only 3/10ths off Cami’s winning qualifier, came into this event and final ready to win on home soil, but it was not meant to be. In the final run Vali was only .113 off at the first split eventually set by Cami, but a crash in the tree stumps open section would be her first error and then again in the treacherous slippery woods section that chewed up and spit out SO MANY riders. Vali would finish 6th in the end.
Adding to the list of World’s fastest women, Jenna Hastings out of New Zealand took home 2nd place in the Junior women’s race with her best World Cup finish ever, in only her 3rd race ever as a World Cup rider!
Camille Balanche – 1st Elite Women
If there was also an award for race craft and how to approach racing, Cami would surely be crowned. She straddles the line of always being the dark-horse underdog but is able to focus on her own race and rise above the chaotic weekends that are World Cup DH. Cami came into this event as the person who has won the last two events here (2020 World Championship and 2021 World Cup opener), so she had pressure on her too but then she goes on to win the qualifier on Friday, ahead of local favourite Vali. For the finals Camille made the decision to keep the full wet mud tires on, despite the track drying out quick “But I knew the race would be won in the woods and I needed the traction for this” and that paid off. With a monster win of over 11 seconds, this was on of the biggest win margins in years. Cami extends her lead going into the Swiss round of World Cup action, her home country!
Eleonora Farina – 3rd Elite Women
Eleonora was so pleased with her 3rd place at Leogang, a track she has previously struggled with in her previous 4 attempts she has never been on the podium here, but with a stacked field on a very technical track, she rose above and grabbed that 3rd spot with an impressive ride on the factory Mondraker with the new Mondraker x TLD Collab collection and D4 helmet.
Monika Hrastnik - 5th Elite Women
Monika, like Cami, rides well in Leogang and this weekend grabbing a podium was in order. With a 3rd last year here, the Slovenian rider was super happy with her ride and rounding out the podium for DORVAL/Commencal TLD team. Her season best moves Monika out of the top 10 overall and into 7th place overall with 4 rounds remaining she is sitting well for the series.
Jenna Hastings – 2nd Junior Women
This young Kiwi rider is on her first year of traveling the world to race her bike-and doing an incredible job of moving up the ranks, with a 6th place at the opener in France, then 4th in Scotland and a 2nd place in Leogang! The future is bright with Jenna!
Benoît Coulanges – Honorable Mention
It’s worth mentioning what could have been and our star Frenchman Benoît Coulanges of DORVAL/Commencal was the fastest qualifier on Friday and last man down the hill. Benoît is still searching for his first UCI World Cup win and today was looking like the one. Fastest at the first split by .17, then fastest at the second split by .480 and into the third split smashing it at 1.5 seconds up!! And then disaster struck in the woods, a small bobble that turned into a tumble. Benoît was able to still salvage a 20th place, which is unreal and only slid down the overall by one spot from 3rd to 4th overall-never give up!