Three Austrian mountain bikers go to the World Cup at home in Leogang this weekend with legitimate hopes of a podium finish. Tyrolean women Laura Steiger and Mona Mitroulner are among the running candidates in the Olympic cross-country race, as is local downhill champion Valentina Hall.
Encouraged by her promising start to the season with second place in the short race in the opening match of the World Cup in Brazil, Stigger is in good spirits. She drew extra motivation from her first World Cup victory on the podium in Leogang last year. The 21-year-old stressed, “The World Cup on your home soil is of course always special, you want to show what you’re made of, but you can’t put too much pressure on yourself.”
Mitterwallner, who is one year her junior, has already lived up to high expectations after winning the U23 Elite Series, and her third place finish at Albstadt was impressive. Now she wants to shine in front of her home audience. “I have a really good feeling to be going to Leogang knowing I’ve worked hard and done everything,” said Metrowalner, who declared again that the goal was to win. “Liugang means a lot to me. I hope in front of my home crowd I can do what I have in mind. I look good. I definitely want to be on top of the podium on Sunday.” However, the favorite is the four-time winner of the season, Rebecca McConnell from Australia.
Hell in the house still extends without luck
However, in the men’s category, perhaps the best Austrian riders around Gregor Ragel, Karl Markt and Max Voedel are not qualified to take the top spots, but Hall, the World Cup champion on the slopes, is. After falling at the home world championships in 2020 and at the World Cup last year, the 20-year-old from Saalbach wants to perfect her original track to perfection. Styrian David Tromer, sensationally Vice World Champion in the Mud Battle of Leogang in 2020, should be able to contend for the top 15 downhill positions.
In Leogang, both World Cup rules have been grouped into one place for the first time this year. Friday evening starts with the short track for Steiger and Metrowalner. Hall tackles the selective Asitz track on Saturday before making cross-country decisions on Sunday. After two years without an audience, the number of fans in Salzburg this time is expected to reach 10,000 fans per day.
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