iXS European Cup #5

Preview: Leogang

This upcoming weekend the iXS European Downhill Cup enters its final round and invites the downhill elite to the Biketember Festival in Leogang. More than 300 riders from 26 different nations registered for the hottest event of the European Downhill season!

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Last weekend’s World Championships in Cairns are in the books, and so is this year’s World Cup. Now it’s time to crown the European champion! For the tenth time – you could call it a tradition by now – the bike park in Leogang is going to host the final race of the EDC season.

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The track

As usual, the bike park track has been modified for the World Cup and again a few new sections have been added, providing the riders with new surprises every season. With 2300 meters in length and an overall 480-meter descend this year’s track is more than just qualified for the final round of the European Cup and provides loads of action. (Just think about Aaron Gwin’s spectacular race run in 2015 without a chain!) Is there a better place to crown the European champions 2017?

If you need proof, check out last year’s course preview by Fischbach and Lukasik!


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The weather

In previous years, summer usually came to an end right on time for the finals, confronting the riders with rather wet and unpleasant conditions in the finals. For now, however, everything still seems possible as far as the forecast is concerned and we are still hoping for some sunshine. Fingers crossed!

Weather

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Favorites

Of course the most important questions before the final race of the season is always the same: who will take the title this time? Let’s have a look at the odds-on favorites and their overall standings!

Jure Zabjek - iXS EDC

Jure Zabjek (SLO - Unior Tools Team) delivered an outstanding season so far. After the UCI World Cup he officially belongs to the world’s top 20 downhill riders and with 885 points in the standings he already has been crowned the European Champion 2017.

But even though the crown is already taken, there are a number of riders who are eager to make the podium! Zabjek’s strongest competitor was Rastislav Baranek (SVK - Kellys Factory Team) who currently holds the second place of the rankings with 654 points.

Monika Hrastnik - iXS EDC

Monika Hrastnik (SLO – Blackthorn) faces a similar situation: she already reached the podium three times this season and therefore seems to be the odds-on favorite for the title. With the first place in the iXS EDC season and a sixth place in the World Championships she definitely delivered the best season of her career so far - congratulations! But similar to the Elite Men category, there are two more spots on the podium and there are some very ambitious riders who are eager to take them! At this point, Eleonora Farina (ITA - GB Rifar Mondraker) seems to be the number one candidate to win the final race in Leogang after her third place in the World Championships, which would make her vice champion of the EDC.

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Markus Pekoll's last race

A few weeks ago, Markus Pekoll (AUT - MS Mondraker) announced that he is going to end his career as an active downhill athlete after this season. Therefore, the iXS European Downhill Cup in Leogang will be the last race of his career. What a place to say goodbye: in Leogang Pekoll celebrated some great moments which makes it the perfect choice to end his career on a high note!

Markus Pekoll - EDC Leogang 2013 © Thomas Dietze Markus Pekoll - EDC Leogang 2013 © Thomas Dietze

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Festival and side events

At the Biketember Festival the EDC finals are only one highlight among a lot of different events and downhill action! In Saalfelden, for example, the Scott Junior Trophy will set the stage for the junior talents. Young riders between 3 and 16 years are invited to test and prove their skills.

And, of course, there are lots of side events, as well as large expo and team areas. On top of that the Ö3 Disco invited the deep house duo Deepend to entertain the crowd on Saturday evening.

Are you in for some race action? Some music? A great atmosphere and great people? Then Leogang is definitely worth a trip! See you there!

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