Weeks after a runner-up performance in Pietra Ligure, Rhys Verner broke through in victory on June 15 at the UCI Mountain Bike Enduro World Cup's Leogang-Salzburgerland stop.
Verner was right up there on a big, burly day in western Austria which saw him covering 55 kilometres with nearly 1100 metres of climbing and a massive 4.8 kilometres of descent over six stages. The Squamish-based contender did not find himself outside the top five at any point and won three stages.
Despite that, Verner was pushed hard by Richie Rude and the pair were separated by just two seconds going into the final DH-focused stage.Yet Verner took more time on the last test of the day, taking the stage and notching a total time of 25 minutes, 8.74 seconds. That was enough to prevail over the American Rude, who settled for silver (25:11.51). Alex Rudeau of France ended up third (25:17.46). Meanwhile, Whistler's Jesse Melamed had a tough day and finished back in 10th position (25:44.70).
"Bad luck for me today! Unfortunately a mechanical took me out of the running for a podium," said Melamed on his Instagram account. "I’ve gotten away with a lot so it is what it is. It was another good week of learning and I’ll take that and look ahead to Italy next week. 10th isn’t bad considering, and a stage win shows the speed hasn’t been lost. Thanks to the team for putting me in the best position to perform as always.
"So stoked for Rhys Verner getting his maiden win! Canada was out in force today, on the enduro track and the DH track. Can’t wait to watch all the racing this weekend!"
Leogang is no stranger to UCI World Cup racing, but it’s the first time the EDR and E-EDR racers have taken on these famous trails.
French athlete Isabeau Courdurier won three stages to see her triumph by a relatively comfortable 14 seconds (28:35.01) from Italy’s Gloria Scarsi (28:49.36). Another Frenchwoman, Morgane Charre, ended up third after taking the day’s final stage (28:53.57).Courdurier has achieved her second win of the season after triumphing at the opening round in Maydena, Australia. As a result, she takes the series leader’s jersey from compatriot Charre.
In the U21 men's event, it was a breakthrough for France’s Lisandru Bertini (25:54.07) ahead of Sascha Kim from Australia (26:08.01) and Kamloops native Johnathan Helly (26:09.64). Whistler's Wei Tien Ho finished fifth (26:15.28).
Vancouver Islander Emmy Lan, Verner's Forbidden Synthesis teammate, took her second win of the campaign in the U21 women's race (30:40.53). Lily Planquart, again of France, came second (30:58.18) and Squamolian Lily Boucher rounded out the podium (31:24.99).
Rude still leads the series going into round five in Italy next weekend. Forbidden Synthesis Team won the day, while Yeti/Fox Factory Racing sits atop season rankings.
Full results are available here.