Downhill history repeats itself
What a track
It was wild, it was exciting and it was hot. This year there was a really cool track in the Bikepark Willingen. This was already confirmed by many riders. The course was a little different than last year. The track is faster, there were many lines to choose from and it just made fun. Again 500 racers flew over the new track and fought for the best time of the day.
The upper part of the track was pretty fast. With a few jumps and pretty flowy passages, it went with a lot of speed into the forest section. There it became more blocky. Many waves, a lot of stones and many small shortcuts required the full concentration of the riders. Out of the forest we went into Teletubby-Land. Here a long wave field awaited the racers, which ran over the old fourcross course. Here, the line had to really sit in order to take a lot of speed and then sprint through the finish line.
Practise & Seeding
In training on Friday, the riders first had to get used to the track. During the training runs on Saturday morning, a brisker pace could already be seen. The line choice was right for most of the riders and so the seeding run could already deliver the first times. Nina Hoffmann was again able to get the fastest time in the elite women. Perhaps she would have to compete in the race run on once old 26 inch downhill bike, so that the chances are equal again. In the Elite Men, the Cube Factory Racing Team could present its dominance with Danny Hart in first place and Max Hartenstern in second.
There was also plenty of sunshine on Sunday. The track was therefore dry and grippy, ideal conditions for the race day. After the exciting seeding on Saturday, the drivers fought hard for the best time in the final. The smaller the numbers of the starting field became, the faster the times became. The hotseat was also very busy on this day.
As expected, Nina Hoffmann from the Santa Cruz Syndicate Team came out on top in the Elite Women's final. She thus also took the German downhill championship title. Second was Justine Welzel and third place went to Lauryne Chapaz from France.
The big surprise
In the Elite Men it was a bit closer. Danny Hart from Great Britain of the Cube Factory Racing Team won the Elite Men race with a very small lead of 27 thousandths of a second. For his teammate Max Hartenstern, it didn't quite work out for the German championship title at the end of the day. He only finished second in the race as well as in the German Championship. But why was that? Well, that was a real surprise...
A rider from the category Pro U19 Male rode the best time of the day! Henri Kiefer from the Canyon CLLCTV Pirelli Team was almost two tenths of a second faster than Danny Hart. So he not only won his class, but also became the German Downhill Racing Champion 2023. What an achievement for such a young rider.
Henri thus repeats what Max already succeeded in 2016 and 2017 in his junior years. There he also won the title, although he was not yet racing in the elite. Thus, the top favorite Max Hartenstern has to settle for second place. Hannes Lehmann from the Chili Racing Brigade finished third in both the Elite Men class and the German Championship.
A wild weekend
That was the second race of the season of the iXS Downhill Cup in Willingen. A sunny and extremely spectacular weekend comes to an end. In parallel, the Bike Festival took place with many interesting exhibitors. Here all visitors could inform themselves about the latest topics of the bike industry. In addition, many other races took place, such as the VPACE Kids Cup, the Bosch e-MTB Challenge or the Bike Marathon. The next race of the iXS Downhill Cup starts on June 30 in Steinach.