24 year old New Zealander Justin Leov scored a World Cup podium here today in Andorra, despite suffering from a miserable head cold. This is Justin's 2nd only World Cup podium in his racing career, the first coming back in 2004, and is a huge relief to the talented Trek World Racing rider who set as a main goal for the year, a long awaited return the rostrum. Team mate Tracy Moseley finished 3rd, narrowly missing 2nd place by 2 hundredths of a second and was bitterly disappointed by her run, as too was Andrew Neethling who said he had a solid run, but the race speed was faster than he thought it'd be, and finished back in 26th.
The story of the day for Trek World Racing though is that Justin's 5th place is the first elite men's World Cup podium for the new team, and an exciting sign of the team's overall progression. The career result is a major stepping stone for Leov who believes he belongs on the podium more regularly. Only Sam Hill rode the first intermediate quicker than Justin, who by the end of the altitude race, was suffering with breathing problems thanks to a head cold that had been getting worse all week.
Justin said: "Man that's a relief! I can't believe it, I have been getting so many 6th's, 7th's and 8th's and I just needed to have a solid run and it would all come together. Last night I woke up several times because I was having trouble breathing thanks to this cold I've got, but some eucalyptus oil really helped out. Half way down the run I started to get tunnel vision though, and I think if the race would have been 15 seconds longer, I probably would have crashed I was getting that dizzy. But I have to say, the bike was so amazingly quick on this course, it just accelerated so well out of corners and felt so stable in the high speed sections. In the first sector I was hauling it and the rear end stepped out on me but it came back into line so quickly, I never felt out of control. I'm glad the day's over, and stoked on the result, so happy for the team."
Unfortunately Tracy's 3rd placing means the leader's jersey goes to today's winner, Sabrina Jonnier, by the slender margin of 2 points. Heading into Fort William for round 4, a track Tracy won on last year, the Brit is hopeful of turning the tables.
Tracy said: "That was a pretty tough result to digest. I made a mistake in the top section, but other than that I thought I had a great run. To see the time that Sabrina posted, well it just kind of deflated me. Losing to Emmeline by 2 hundredths, well that's racing and sometimes it goes your way, and sometimes it doesn't, small margins are cruel but part of the sport. It's the bigger margin I need to work on, and I’ll be heading home tomorrow to do just that."
Andrew said: "I had a solid and clean run, but obviously it wasn't enough. I needed to take a few more risks as I misjudged the speed the top 10 guys were doing. I also made a big mistake in the last woods which I know cost me some time. Overall not a great day for me but fortunately my ranking doesn't change. I'm stoked for Jusso though, he killed it!"
Next week sees round 4 of the XC World for Trek World Racing, in Madrid, Spain, with a full line up 3 men, as well as the Lisbon Downtown in Portugal which will be contested by Justin and Andrew.