The easiest World Cup downhill track ever?

Yep, it’s Claudio o’clock again. This time we see the Swiss Legend on a big wheel Scot Gambler 29 trying to chase down Marcelo Gutierrez.

This pairing is actually rather (accidentally?) inspired. Gutierrez was one of the anomalies of the whole wheel size debate at last weekend’s Fort William race.

The speedy South American basically went faster than pretty much anyone on the lower ‘motorway’ section at Fort William. And he wasn’t on 29in wheels. He was sprinting on 27.5in hoops.

So his appearance in Claudio’s Leogang course preview is more interesting that you might already think. Gutierrez is after all one of the most impressively powerful racers on the World Cup downhill circuit.

The course then. Why is it controversial? Basically because it appears to have become even more of a groomed bike park track than already was. Rocks have been removed. Speeds have gone up.

The most ‘exciting’ new feature in the big tabletop jump just before the finish line. Not exactly Champery then.

So far, so 2017. But hang on. The potential is here for people’s prejudices to be totally turned on their heads. There’s some opinion that at super-high speeds 27.5in wheels are actually faster than 29in wheels. Yes, you read that correctly. 27.5in wheels faster at warp speeds. It’s arguably in the rough stuff where 29ers have the advantage.

We’ll state again that it’s not going to be until the technical tracks of Vallnord et al that the true performance qualities of 29er downhill bikes will be proved or disproved.

The wheel size wailing will continue all season folks. Sorry but that’s just the way it’s set to play out.

Video description

Red Bull: “Even Claudio is on a 29er now! But will it make any difference as he takes on the new Leogang course? Watch his course preview with Marcelo Gutierrez now. The builders at Leogang have been busy getting the course ready for the approaching World Cup this weekend, with excavators on the track right up until Claudio took to the trails. Alterations have been made, using feedback from riders, but not everyone is looking forward to the changes. Claudio struggled to sleep the night before and he’s been worrying about hitting the big new finish line jump! Rolling on brand new big wheels on his Scott bike, Claudio was joined by South America’s fastest export – Marcelo Gutierrez, to try out new lines on the Austrian track. Even with his new big wheels the finish line jump was too intimidating for him the first time around and Claudio had to go back up and have a tow in from Marcelo! Watch to see if he cleared the jump the second time around in the player above.”