14 JUNE 2021
The first combined UCI Mountain Bike World Cup race of the year was held in Leogang, Austria, over the weekend, and the Giant Factory Off-Road Team was out in full force over three days of racing. First-year team rider Rémi Thirion led the squad with an impressive top-10 finish in the elite men’s downhill.
Thirion came into his first major race with Giant racing on a prototype Glory DH bike. “It’s a big change to switch teams and bikes, and this was my first real race with the team,” said the 31-year-old French rider. “Leogang is a hard course—the first part is on the bike park, and the bottom is very natural and steep. It’s asking the bike and riders to do two different things.”
Both bike and rider delivered. Rain earlier in the week made for wet, muddy conditions in training and qualifying, but track conditions were changing as things dried out for the elite men’s finals. “By the time we raced the finals the conditions were way dryer and easier for everyone to push harder,” Thirion said. “I did that and got 8th place. I finished 3 seconds from the win and 1 second from the podium.”
Thirion’s teammate Jacob Dickson also had an impressive showing in the elite men’s downhill, finishing 20th in the finals. The three-time Irish men’s DH national champion also raced on a prototype Glory, along with Giant Shuttle DH shoes, to score his best World Cup result since the 2019 season.
The team’s XC squad was busy over the weekend as well, both in Europe and North America. In Leogang, Swiss rider Reto Indergand had a strong World Cup showing, finishing 14th in the short-track race and 20th in the cross-country. With racetracks that were heavy on the climbs, Indergand chose his hardtail XtC Advanced SL for both races, along with the Giant Rev Pro helmet and Charge Pro shoes.
“I strategized my short-track race to pass on the climbs and use the descent for recovery,” Indergand said. “It worked well and my 14th place helped me a lot for Sunday’s XCO because it allowed me to start in the second row, which is so important for the World Cup. Sunday was quite wet and the descending was sketchy, but my fitness felt good and I came away in the top-20.”
Indergand’s teammate Antoine Philipp also put in a solid effort in the elite men’s XC, moving up from deep in the pack, passing more than 20 riders to finish 22nd.
Meanwhile, American XC racer Luke Vrouwenvelder was in Montana for the sixth round of the Pro XCT series, the Missoula XC. The first-year Giant rider scored two podiums, finishing third in both the short-track and the cross-country on his XtC Advanced SL hardtail.
“Consistency has been the name of the game so far this season,” Vrouwenvelder said. “My third place finish in the XC should move me into first in the Pro XCT overall standings.”