Floriane Pugin (Scott 11) proved to be the fastest in the muddy conditions of Leogang, Austria, for the third round of the 2011 UCI downhill series. The young French rider won the first World Cup of her career, and stopped Tracy Moseley's (Trek World Racing) winning streak at two, as the British rider could only manage third. Rachel Atherton (Commencal) took second behind Pugin. Moseley still leads the World Cup standings with 660 points, followed by Pugin at 570 and Atherton – who missed the first round – at 410.
After raining most of the night, conditions finally began to clear on the morning of the women's downhill final, with breezy conditions drying out the open sections of the course. However, in the woods, among the rough, rooty sections, it was still slippery, with numerous riders sliding off course and into the protective padding. Canadian national champion Micayla Gatto was the first to record a sub-five-minute time, with a strong 4:50.707. That lasted for six riders, before Myriam Nicole (Riding Addiction-Commencal) knocked another 11.5 seconds off the lead.
Nicole's strong time stood up to challenges by Fionn Griffiths (Team GR), Sabrina Jonnier (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) and Emmeline Ragot (Team GR), who was disqualified after crashing and rejoining the race at a different spot on the course. American champion Jill Kintner was on track for a very fast run, with the fastest first split of the day and top time through the speed trap, before crashing.
However, the final three riders all beat Nicole's time, with each bumping the previous rider out of the Hot Seat. Moseley, on a course that doesn't play to her strengths, was still seven full seconds faster than Myriam Nicole. Rachel Atherton, on the course where she injured her shoulder last year, shaved a tenth of a second off of Moseley's time, and then Pugin shattered the leading time by 2.583 seconds to capture her first World Cup victory. Her winning time was still five seconds slower than her qualifying mark.
"It's hard to take in," a breathless Pugin said after her run. "I'm so happy. It was so hard in the pedaling section because it [the ground] was getting so sticky and it was hard to carry speed through there, but I gave it my all. To win a World Cup was my main goal for this year, and now it's done!"
Moseley wasn't too disappointed to miss the three-peat: "I'm definitely happy with third," she said. "I was struggling in practice this morning, and nervous at the top before the final that I was going to throw it [the lead] away. I'm just happy to be so close to Rachel [Atherton], who's more suited to this course, and to Floriane, who's been riding awesome here all week."
This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.