As the first location of the current UCI Mountain Bike World Cup season, Saalfelden Leogang was able to welcome three different mountain bike disciplines at once:
in addition to the Downhill and Cross-country aces, the Enduro riders were guests for the first time. Like the double-header of the past years, this year’s triple-header was a complete success. Thrilling races, beaming heroes and the usual insane crowd made the World Cup weekend in Saalfelden Leogang an unforgettable experience.
Historic race action with a happy ending for the local heroes
The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup races in Saalfelden Leogang once again offered thrilling competitions in which the riders were to go to the maximum again and again, pushed their own limits and set new personal bests. The Enduro pros were already challenged on Thursday across Austria’s largest bike region Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn on various stages, with Isabeau Courdurier and Rhys Verner taking the win in the regular competition, while Florencia Espiñeira Herreros and Fabien Barel were successful in the E-Enduro race. One day later, it was the Cross-country elite’s turn to give their all in the Short Track competition, with World Champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and Jordan Sarrou, giving especially French mountain bike fans all reasons to celebrate.
The Downhill Saturday, however, should be completely in the name of the two local heroes Vali Höll and Andi Kolb. While Vali Höll made her mark on the Elite Women’s Downhill race and finally won the long-awaited home world cup at the third attempt, Andi Kolb achieved something historic in the subsequent elite men’s race: the reigning European Champion became the first Austrian ever to win a UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup.
But that’s not all: The local heroes were also convincing in the Cross-country Olympic race on Sunday. Mona Mitterwallner and Laura Stigger, pushed by the crowd, fought for every second on the 3.6 kilometer long course and only had to admit defeat to the outstanding Dutchwoman Puck Pieterse. In the men’s race Swiss rider Lars Forster took the win, with Germany’s Luca Schwarzbauer settling for second.
Successful side events and sustainability
Of course, the numerous mountain bike fans were also offered a lot away from the races. UCI World Cup Brunch with a DJ, Welcome Party, UCI World Cup BBQs, Warm-Up and Afterparty provided good mood and culinary well-being. The flight show by Flying Bulls pilot Dario Costa guaranteed another highlight, so did the numerous signing sessions, which enjoyed great popularity. There was even more to experience for the 23,000 visitors in the Team & Expo Area, where much of the UCI World Cup life took place away from the races and countless well-known exhibitors presented the latest and most exciting innovations in the mountain bike world.
As organizer of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, the Saalfelden Leogang region and the Epic Bikepark Leogang were keen to keep the ecological footprint of this major event as low as possible. The key element was primarily the use of the public transport network and the shuttles provided, which could be used for free with a World Cup entry ticket. In addition, waste separation and the use of reusable items, as well as the consumption of regional products, were encouraged.
Facts, figures and the award for the best UCI Downhill World Cup stop 2022
A total of 1,100 athletes from 33 nations competed in 18 competitions from Thursday to Sunday in the three disciplines Enduro, Cross-country and Downhill. They were cheered on loudly by 23,000 mountain bike fans. Several hundred volunteers ensured that everything ran smoothly both during the races and away from them. Also, in regards to the 2028 Mountain Bike World Championships, Saalfelden Leogang has once again demonstrated how successful they can handle major events.
“The World Cup was a complete success – more than 1,000 athletes and over 23,000 fans made this weekend something very special. For us, this is also the confirmation that the hard work we have put into organizing our events as a double-header, since the Covid 19 related takeover of the 2020 Cross-country World Championships from Albstadt, has paid off. To host the triple-header this year has taken it to the next level, but it is also a great reward for our performance in 2021 and 2022. Without the numerous volunteers, athletes and spectators, this would not have been possible. Thank you to everyone who helped make the 2023 World Cup such a great event here in Saalfelden Leogang. We are super happy.” – Marco Pointner, World Cup organizer and CEO Saalfelden Leogang Touristik GmbH
Even more reason to celebrate in Saalfelden Leogang was the award for the best UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup stop in 2022 – a title that the Pinzgau region could already be proud of in the 2021 season. The award jury was composed of the athletes, coaches, officials, as well as representatives of the UCI and the media. How comfortable the World Cup community feels in Saalfelden Leogang is also proven by the impressions from the pits, where everyone is always happy to return to Saalfelden Leogang.
“The Leogang World Cup is one of the team’s favorite stops of the year. The execution by the organizing committee, from the track to the tech area, to everything, is amazing. The Austrian hospitality and the local region of Leogang are incredibly accommodating to the teams and the racers. It’s great to come to a familiar place where the locals and the accommodation people are so welcoming for the group. The Austrian fans, year after year, always deliver and always are a huge part of the event, making the atmosphere incredible. And every year, the riders enjoy it, and this is one of their favorite stops of the Mountain Bike World Series. We also really look forward to Leogang being long part of the World Cup as it’s a true staple, proximity-wise, to all the other events on the circuit.” – Gabe Fox, Team Manager CANYON CLLCTV
“Leogang was a good weekend for the Syndicate. We ended up with a podium in the Elite Men’s with Jackson Goldstone. He was loving the track, and everything was good. Happy to come away with that. Leogang as a venue was good as always. It’s such a cool spot to be able to be at your hotel, really close to the site. It just makes all the logistics kind of easy for the team and the mechanics to set up and get into place, ready for the race of the weekend. The downhill track, although it was a little bit straight and really fast and the weather threw in a little bit of a mix the day before finals, but all in all it dried out pretty quick and made for a great race. Always happy to be back in Leogang.” – Steve Peat, Team Manager SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE