Race Report: Season Finals in Bellwald
Bellwald has been a popular host in the downhill scene for 9 year now, and we’re proud to call it one of our traditional venues and an important part of the iXS family. Each and every year the track of 2200 meters in length and a 400-meter descend is prepared to meet the iXS requirements and each and every year, the job is done perfectly. That’s why Bellwald is the perfect venue for the final race of the season! In addition to the track and Bellwald’s unique atmosphere, they also provide some extra entertainment with live music in the evenings and the weather, that is usually still at its best so early in October, adds another topping to the mix!
Well – at least usually. This year, it was finally time for the famous exception to the rule and already the weather forecast was far from good. Friday’s track walk revealed what was to come and soon all riders knew what they were up to. But even if it was wet and cold, at least the mud called for some additional fun.
In Saturday’s seeding run the Elite Women category already sent a clear message: Emilie Siegenthaler (SUI - Pivot Factory) set the bar extremely high and even left behind Carina Cappellari (SUI - Radon Magura Factory) with an incredible gap of 25(!) seconds. In the Elite Men, however, the result was not nearly as clear, on the contrary: Basil Weber (SUI - Team Project) succeeded only by split seconds. And a short look at the rankings even increased the overall anticipation for Sunday’s race: With Martin Frei (SUI - Akira Tuning Racing) as the current leader of the rankings with 387 points, followed by Basil Weber with 385 points and Lutz Weber (SUI - Swiss Downhill Syndicate) with 343, everything still seemed possible and all eyes were on these three on Sunday.
Sunday started with weather so bad that most of the riders probably rather would have stayed in bed all day. But the forecast promised some improvement and it was right: 11.30 a.m. and just in time for the final runs, the sun finally broke through and the race was finally on.
In the Masters category, Thomas Ryser (SUI - Radon Hot-Trail Racing) made it a triple and succeeded in both the seeding and the race run, taking both victories of the weekend and the title of the season. Luis Ribeiro (POR - Penacova DH) went second in the rankings, followed by Jérôme Crottaz (SUI - Cyclone DH Team) in third place.
In the U17 youth it was exciting until the very last second when Loris Michellod (SUI - Verbier Bikepark), Federico Monzoni (ITA - Smile Bike) and Jerome Müller (SUI - Magic Downhill) provided the crowd with a showdown in their fight for the rankings. In the end, the title went to Italy with Federico Monzoni who finished only in sixth place, but nevertheless took the lead over the rankings.
Meanwhile, Janis Lehmann (SUI - aendus-bike-gallery.ch) already clearly dominated the U19 category and took some time to sit back and relax before his final run on Sunday. At the end of the day, he did not win the race, but reached the podium with third place, which still sufficed to make him 2015’s overall champion. Ari Montanier (SUI - Speed racing) went fastest and at the same time took the second place of the rankings, followed by Pascal Kempf (FRA - Sabma/Devinci) in second place.
The result of the Elite Women category was not exactly surprising: As already anticipated Emilie Siegenthaler was the fastest female rider of the weekend, but as she only attended 2 of 4 SDC races, this did not affect the overall standings. Laura Lohner (FRA - RVTT Morillon Pitstop) went second, but in the end, it was Carina Cappellari who was crowned champion 2015 with a healthy third place in Bellwald and after a really strong and successful season. Lea Rutz (SUI - iXS Gravity Union) finished in fifth in Bellwald, which made her vice champion.
By the way, Cappellari also has been sitting atop the iXS Standings (which include all of the iXS series of the past 365 days) for quite a while now.
As usual, the Elite Men was the last category of the day, but even after some hours of sunshine the track was far from dry and not in a good shape at all – which called for mud tires and a lot of excitement. Maxime Chapuis (SUI - Cyclone DH Team) was the first rider who delivered a time clearly under 4 minutes. After that the Swiss Champ occupied the Red Bull Hot Seat and was not interested in leaving it again. However, Martin Frei foiled his plans and set a new best time of 3:51.677 minutes. Alexandre Lohner (FRA - RVTT Morillon Pitstop) came in next, but missed the best time by 4 seconds. Then, Janik Rebmann (GER - Team Bikepark Albstadt) was faster than Lohner, but still not fast enough to reach Frei’s time. When Lutz Weber came down the hill, he set a new best time with a gap of 5 seconds and nobody any longer doubted the race’s outcome.
When Basil Weber came into sight, it was clear that he would not be fast enough, and when he crossed the finish line, he did so with 10 seconds towards Weber’s best time. In the end, Lutz Weber won SDC #4, followed by Martin Frei and Basil Weber. In the overall rankings, however, Martin Frei was crowned the new champion with Lutz Weber as vice.
Well, to sum up the weekend: of course it was not perfect, but still it once more was a worthy season finale in Bellwald. And the best part: Bellwald was already confirmed as the final venue of the iXS Swiss Downhill Cup 2016. So, see you next year! But for now, let us all enjoy our well-deserved off-season!