Dickerson and Hrastnik win in Abetone
Only two weeks after iXS EDC #2 in Kranjska Gora and one week after another race in Klinovec (Czech Republic) the European series returned for its third race this season. For the first time, round three of the EDC took the riders to Abetone in Italy and it seems that a worthy replacement for Pila in the iXS agenda has finally been found!
For most of the riders it was the longest journey of the season, but with a weekend like this Abetone definitely made up for the way. Every rider who attended at least one Italian race in the past knows that there is always something special about them, be it in Val di Sole, Pila or Abetone. For one, the race tracks are always extremely demanding and rather long compared to others. This weekend’s track has been modified specifically for the EDC debut this weekend, making it even more versatile and fun.
Along its 2500 meters in length with an overall 450-meter descend the course offers everything a real rider desires: roots and rocks, wood and stones, loads of curves and, of course, the occasional jump. After more than five minutes the riders finally reach the finish line still feeling the track in their bones and joints.
Friday started with a track walk for all riders, revealing the track for the very first time for nearly everyone. Therefore, the overall atmosphere bristled with concentration and anticipation. After that, the first 6-hour training session was scheduled. But due to the track’s length and level of difficulty, most riders only went back up a couple of times to save their strength for the upcoming race runs. The overall conditions were as perfect as they were in Kranjska Gora and so the stage was set for an exciting race weekend with a flair of Italian summer.
Under a bright and shining sun the riders were provided with another training session on Saturday morning, before the qualification runs in the afternoon. In addition to collecting important points for the rankings, the Elite Men category also fought for the popular 30 seats in the Super Final. Bryn Dickerson (FS Funn Factory Team) finished fastest with 4.52,534 minutes, while Monika Hrastnik (SLO - Blackthorn) dominated the Elite Women category setting a best time of 5.32,046 minutes.
Sunday once more greeted the riders with a clear blue sky and loads of sunshine. This perfect Tuscan weather mixed with a great atmosphere made for the perfect race day. And after one last training session, the finals were finally opened.
Pro Master, U17 Male and 19 Female
As always, the Masters opened the race and it almost seemed like a déjà vu when Benjamin Herold (GER - Giant Germany Off-Road Team) succeeded after he already set the best time in his qualification. During the last years, Herold was a rather rare guest in the European Cup, but after his success in Pila, it seemed like he just could not stay away for this – and he was right!
He succeeded with a 4-second gap towards Rowan Sorrell (GBR - Bikepark Wales) who finished in second, followed by Fabian Buschor (SUI - RSF) in third place.
In the U17 category with Goncalo Bandeira (POR - Miranda Factory Team) a promising newcomer from the Portugal Cup celebrated his first victory after he already delivered a great race run in Maribor but only almost made the podium.
This time, he succeeded, pushing Antoine Rogge (FRA - Us Cagnes) to the second place, while Rogge’s strongest competitor Blake Ross (NZL - Hibike-Gravity) finished in third place. In the female U19 category Lauryne Gozzi (FRA - Us Cagnes VTT) took the title.
That it would be an exciting final run already became clear in Saturday’s qualification, when Monika Hrsatnik and Eleonora Farina (ITA - GB Rifar Mondraker) were joined by another strong competitor with Nina Hoffmann (GER - Santa Cruz Bicycles). And after reaching the second place in Kranjska Gora she was more than eager to fight for the title this weekend.
During the race it seemed more than just close, but in the end the reigning European champion and Maribor’s winner Monika Hrsatnik finished more than one second faster than the competition, even extending her lead in the rankings. Hoffmann ended up in second place again, while Farina completed the podium in third.
Pro U19 male
Right before the Super Final of the Elite Men, the U19 Male category not only fought for the title and the EDC ranking, but also for their World Cup qualifications. After a very strong performance in Kranjska Gora (he set the best time in his category that was even faster than the best time of the Elite Male), special attention was cast at Tristan Botteram (NED - Bombshell).
Unfortunately, he missed the podium this time and therefore also lost his lead in the rankings. This weekend Elia Sauer (SUI - Hot-Trail Racing) was the lucky winner, taking both this week’s victory and the lead in the rankings. Zak Gomilscek (SLO - Sinter Brakes Team) finished second, followed by Stefano Introzzi (ITA - Scout/Nukeproof).
Super Final Elite Men
Once more, the Super Final was extremely exciting. The first rider to beat the 5-minute mark was Adam Rojcek (SVK - CTM Racing Team), but he had to leave the Red Bull Hot Seat again as soon as he sat down, when Luka Berginc (SLO - KK Crn Trn / Blackthorn) finished even faster. When Ondrej Stepanek (CZE - CTM Racing team) stepped on the track it seemed clear that he would take the lead, but it wasn’t quite enough in the end. Then, Kranjska Gora’s winner Joshua Barth (GER - Carbocage Factory) took over and Davide Palazzari (ITA - Scout/Nukeproof) failed to take his place.
Harry Molloy (GBR - FS Funn Factory Racing), however, didn’t and finished even 3 seconds faster. When Bryn Dickerson finally entered the finish area, it immediately became clear that he would once more beat his own best time. He crossed the finish line with a result of 4.50,048 minutes, pushing him to first place once again. His team mate Molloy and Joshua Barth completed the podium. At the moment, Barth still sits atop the rankings, but Dickerson is getting closer!
Summary and Preview
It has been a successful debut for Abetone and the organizers, proving once more that Italian races and spirit are special and that Italian tracks are simply amazing. The EDC will definitely be coming back for more next season and hopefully for years to come! In the meantime, the next race of the European series 2018 takes the riders back to the Czech Republic, Spicak to be specific, in three weeks’ time.