In just over two weeks, the biggest stars of Downhill will once again head to Bikepark Leogang in search of those precious seconds. The Out of Bounds Festival in Saalfelden Leogang from June 7 – 10 combines the World Cup with a stacked program of spectacular side-events. In addition to several events that are open for public participation and the large Team & Expo Area, this year’s Out of Bounds Festival will also include an Open-Air Concert. Tickets for the Out of Bounds Festival are available on http://www.mtb-weltcup.at.
The World Cup track in Leogang is distinctly unique compared to the other World Cup stops. Nestled within Bikepark Leogang, the 2.5km-long “Speedster” delivers extremely tight races year after year thanks to its special characteristics. The smallest mistake on the “Speedster” is instantly punished with a severe loss of speed. With lost time extremely hard to make up, one mistake can make the difference between a Top 5 and a Top 30 result. Only those who manage to master the track perfectly have a shot at a win in Leogang. The tight and exciting racing and remarkable stories, like Aaron Gwin’s (USA) victory with a snapped chain in 2015, regularly create a spectacular atmosphere, which is why the World Cup in Leogang draws some of the largest crowds on the circuit.
Eight races are held between April and August in the hunt for the 2018 Downhill World Cup Overall Title with the race in Leogang being the third of the season. The first race of the season was held in Losinj, Croatia, in April. The brand-new track on the Mediterranean island saw decisive victories by last year’s World Cup Overall Winners Aaron Gwin (USA) and Myriam Nicole (FRA) in an otherwise extremely tight race. Aaron Gwin especially will be heading to Leogang as the big favorite after winning the last three World Cups held in the Austrian bike-mecca. A stacked field of riders is however awaiting their turn to oust the American and take the win in Austria. Loris Vergier (FRA) will be fired up straight out of the gate. The young Frenchman already looked like the sure winner in each of the last two years after putting down spectacular runs, but both times Aaron Gwin managed to snatch the victory away from him in the end. Vergier’s teammate Greg Minnaar (RSA) also has a score to settle with Gwin after losing his lead in the overall standings to the American at the very last race of the 2017 season. With riders like Troy Brosnan (AUS), Mark Wallace (CAN), Danny Hart (GBR), Loic Bruni (FRA) and Laurie Greenland (GBR), the top of the men’s field is loaded with extremely fast racers and a tight and exciting race is guaranteed.
The depth of talent in the women’s field is equally high. Myriam Nicole won in Losinj by a large margin, but Rachel Atherton (GBR) is back on form after a tough injury during the 2017 season and will be more than eager to stand on top of the podium once again. Last year’s Leogang winner, Tahnée Seagrave (GBR), and Tracey Hannah (AUS) will also be ready to bring the heat and should never be counted out. The local fans can also look forward to seeing Austrian Top-Talent Valentina Höll (AUT) race a World Cup at home for the first time. Höll dominated the Junior category at her first-ever World Cup race in Losinj and put down a time that would have even seen her claim a sensational 6th place finish in the Elite-Women category.
The “Speedster” itself will see some smaller changes this year. UCI Course Delegate David Vasquez and former World Cup racer Markus Pekoll have already inspected the track and as a result some sections will be altered to create additional excitement for the fans and riders. “We are currently working on various highlights for the fans and riders and preparations are already in full swing. After the record number of 22,000 visitors in 2017, we are looking forward to see how many fans we can welcome to the action-packed Out of Bounds Festival weekend this year”, says Kornel Grundner, Head of the Leoganger Bergbahnen.
Next to the Mercedes-Benz UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup, Saalfelden Leogang has plenty more exciting events, action and fun to offer during the Out of Bounds Festival: several spectacular Motocross shows, a Kids-Pumptrack Challenge, the brand-new Hogmoa Team-Challenge, open to public participation and with a helicopter ride as main prize, a large open-air concert, several parties and much more. The full event program of the Out of Bounds Festival can be found right here.
For all those, who can’t make it to Austria in person, Red Bull TV will broadcast the Mercedes-Benz UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup in Leogang live, on-demand and free of charge on redbull.tv/uci with commentary in various languages.
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