Last year the iXS European Downhill Cup started very late because of the pandemic. This time Corona doesn't seem to have too much influence on the race calendar anymore and so nothing stands in the way of a scheduled start. But also the regular season start is very early compared to other years. This is possible because the series starts this time in Losinj, Croatia, which already allows a downhill race in spring due to its mild climate.
The venue is picturesquely located on an island in the Mediterranean Sea and is therefore unique. There is a pleasant climate and the landscape offers breathtaking nature. 300 days of sunshine and a finish line directly at the harbour are probably optimal conditions for the European Cup to enjoy top racing action and get into the holiday mood. The venue is located in Veli Lošinj, a medieval town with 1,000 inhabitants. As a larger town, Mali Lošinj with 8,000 inhabitants is located three kilometres to the northwest and is connected by a regional road. Veli Lošinj is situated in a narrow, sheltered bay on the south-eastern side of the island of Lošinj at the foot of St. John's Hill. Several luxurious villas with special gardens form a scenic backdrop to this beautiful place.
Rarity: Sea view from the track © Oliver Kühn
The track in the Croatian holiday paradise is well known and has already been tested in the World Cup. Three years ago, when the world's elite came to visit, the venue met with great approval from the riders due to its beautiful location, the fantastic weather and the enthusiastic crowds of fans. Nevertheless, it should also be said that the track is one of the stoniest of all. Endless scree challenges the participants just as much as the material used. After a short start section, there are a few gaps that are not to be sneezed at, and then the decisive, extremely stony and partly narrow section that stretches all the way to the outskirts of Veli Lošinj. Here, an urban DH section follows with an almost dead straight path down to the harbour in the town centre. There, the riders and spectators can expect what is probably the most beautiful finish of the season.
Start in Losinj © Oliver Kühn
The weather doesn't quite seem to live up to the expectations of a mediocre spring event. Statistically, there are probably 300 sunny days a year in Losinj, but unfortunately it looks like the iXS European Downhill Cup will take place on some of the remaining days.
Around 200 riders from 21 nations have registered for the race. Surely it is still a bit early for some of them, after all there is still snow in many regions and therefore the possibilities of preparation were very different depending on where the riders came from. But a look at the entry list shows that some of the title aspirants will open the hunt for important points for the overall ranking. First and foremost, of course, Tristan Botteram (NED - Canyon CLLCTV), the defending champion of the Elite Men class. But also the series winner of 2019 Constantin Ruetsch (SUI - Gypsy Global Racing) will make the journey from Switzerland. In the Elite Women class, one name in particular immediately catches the eye. Justine Welzel (GER) was second overall last year, but also stood out with two wins and a series victory in the iXS Downhill Cup.
Tristan Botteram - iXS EDC Spicak 2021 © Rick Schubert
Of course, a lot of attention will again be focused on the junior classes, after all, the series sees itself as a talent factory and some big names of today's world elite have already sprung from the European Cup.