The action got serious from the start, as the first gravel ascent took its toll, with several riders struggling with the section and rolling back down the hill. Five-time Erzberg winner and favorite Taddy Blazusiak (POL), mastered the section easily and took the lead ahead of a field packed with some of the greatest off-road racers in the world. Blazusiak was soon passed by Cody Webb (USA), leading the top flight with Blazusiak, Alfredo Gomez (ESP) and Wade Young (RSA) to the first check point. Then, Graham Jarvis (GBR), winner in 2013 and 2015, caught up and took the lead, reaching the infamous Carl's Dinner ahead of Webb and Gomez. Taddy Blazusiak struggled with a broken brake lever and clutch problems that saw him drop back to ninth place by Carl’s Dinner.