Hardtail of the Year: extreme edition

There are rumours circulating – and who doesn’t love a good rumour eh? – that a collective of cheeky World Cup downhill racers will go for a coordinated practice run down the controversial Leogang course.

The “tracks are getting boring” moan-murmurs of last year are finally blossoming into full-on public statements from certain disgruntled racers.

There’s no talk of doing the actual racing on Sunday on hardtails. Or even doing more than a single practice run on the bikes. This protest – if indeed it happens at all – is meant as a bit of a laugh, but a bit of a laugh with a point.

Who’s complaining? Well, none of the usual podium dwellers are making much of a fuss to be honest. They’re either keeping their heads down and keeping out of controversy or they’re aware that the race season is varied and takes in a variety of different track types.

Leogang was always going to be a relatively dull track. It’s no surprise or shock. Leogang is going to require athleticism and fitness to win. All out bike handling skill – or indeed bottle – won’t be hugely deciding factors.

It’s the riders in that sort-of ‘second tier’ that are seemingly most put out. A group of riders who prefer – and get better results on – the tight, steep and technical World Cups of yore.

And, to be fair, we have some sympathy with this feeling. We do miss the super steep and tech courses of a few years ago. This group of riders is already on a bit of a downer about 29ers entering their world.

And yes, it has been the appearance of 29ers at the opening rounds of 2017 UCI World Cup Downhill Series that has arguably been the catalyst for this intensifying of complaints.

Having said that, we have our suspicions that Leogang may see The Revenge of 650b. Gwin and Gutierrez for the 1 and 2 anyone?

Watch: Hardtail of the Year 2017: £500-£1,000 (VIDEO)

This rumoured hardtail protest does actually appear to relatively good-natured and cheeky in nature though, as opposed to a belligerent sulk-fest.

All of this brouhaha is making the 2017 World Cup DH season very interesting – albeit in a ‘political’ way rather than an actual racing way.

And, as we’ve said before, all this arguing is not going to go away until – at the very earliest – next months’ round at Vallnord, which will hopefully see a lot of “boring tracks” complaining and the “29er are only good for open motorway tracks” debating die down and we can all get on with talking about the actual racing as opposed to the various sideshows.