In the Men Elite class South-African rider Greg Minnaar finished on top of the podium, followed by Gee Atherton repping the UK and Canadian Steve Smith. In fourth came Mick Hanah (AUS) and in fifth Sam Hill (AUS). In the Women Elite competition, the French rider Morgane Charre took the title with an awesome run, leaving behind defending champ Ragot and UK rider Manon Carpenter, who finishes off her first season as a senior in emphatic style. Fourth place went to Floriane Pugin from France followed by Rachel Atherton.
Sunday brought perfect sunny and dry weather conditions for the riders and the 12,000 fans who turned up to watch the downhill final in Leogang. All 116 male athletes and 33 female athletes brought their A-game to this world class event and the extremely demanding “Speedster” track proved a worthy battle ground. As the racing heated up, it was British rider Sam Dale (who finished 12th) who did the first stint in the hot seat, but when it came to the top ten of the starting list, there was lots of movement on that golden cushion. The fastest from training, Mick Hannah (AUS), put in a pretty clean run and was in the lead until the top-trio of Atherton, Minnaar and Gwin came on the track.
Setting the benchmark, Gee Atherton rode down the 2.6 km long track without any mistakes and took the lead, but had to leave his spot on the hotseat just a few minutes later, when Minnaar finished half a second faster. The 30-year-old South African found an impressively smooth line through the technical demanding roots passage and also handled perfectly the rock section. World Cup winner Aaron Gwin was the last man out the gate, but due to some mechanical issues, finishing the race in a disappointing 83rd place. However, this meant Greg Minnaar ws the new DH World Champion. Commenting on his win, Minnaar said ”I was waiting 9 years for this title. In the mean time I took a lot of bronze medals, but now I am where I was heading for in the last 10 years. This season’s training in Leogang was really worth it."
Also making history was the big man from Shefield, Steve Peat, who was participating in his 20th world championship in a row, an achievement that will take some matching. A place in the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame is assuredly his.
The women elite’s class was dominated by French riders, in particular Morgan Charre, who had the race of her life. After the hot seat was taken for a long time by the Canadian trio of Gatto, Brown and Miller, the new downhill World Champion started in eighth last and stayed in the hot seat until the end.
For last year’s world champion Emmeline Ragot it all looked really good and it seemed like she could defend her title. She was leading after the first time split, but in the lower section she couldn’t beat Charre’s efforts on the track and finished second about a second back. Closely behind her was Manon Carpenter (GBR) who finished a nice run without any mistakes and secured her place on the podium. Rachel Atherton, considered as title favorite by many, only finished fifth due to a back injury. Floriane Pugin finished 4th and was one of three French riders in the top five.
In the Junior’s competition another French rider took the title: Top-favorite Loic Bruni put in a cracking run as expected, finishing 3 seconds up on Richard Rude (USA) and Connor Fearon (AUS). In the women junior’s competition Canadian Holly Feniak won in front of Tahnee Seagrave (GBR) and Danielle Beecroft (AUS).