Surprising Results in Slowenia
After two months the iXS European Downhill Cup finally returned with its second race, once more taking us to Slovenia. After the first race in Maribor, this weekend numerous riders from 26 nations made their way to Kranjska Gora. The small town not far from the Austrian border has been hosting the European series for four years now and still amazes riders and visitors with its unique scenery, its very own flair and, of course, with some high-class downhill racing.
For this year’s edition of the EDC the course has been modified in a few sections, adding even more to its flow. Some rocks have been added, the famous root section was even bigger this year allowing for more individual lines and the final forest section has been straightened a little. But the riders seemed to be more than okay with these changes already during Friday’s track walk.
Also the weather forecast for the weekend was simply perfect: temperatures reached 25 degrees on Sunday and the track got dryer by the minute, setting the stage for a perfect downhill weekend.
After the track walk, the first free training session was scheduled for Friday and the first obligatory trainings for early Saturday morning, before the race was opened for the qualification runs in the afternoon. As usual, this first run determined which riders of the Elite Men category would take part in Sunday’s Super Final. The fastest Elite rider of day was Stanislav Sehnal (CZE - Kelly Factory Team), followed by Max Hartenstern (GER - Cube Global Squad) and Bryn Dickerson (NZL - FS Funn Factory Racing), but the result was more than close. In fact, the first 5 riders were not more than 1 second within each other’s reach. So it already seemed clear that it would get extremely close during the Super Final.
In the Elite Women category European Champion Monika Hrastik (SLO - Blackthorn) took the first place with a clear 2.5-second lead. But the most surprising result of the day was delivered by Tristan Botteram (NED - Ripstar/Bombshell Team) in the U19 who set the best time of the day with 2.25,881 minutes, which was even faster than Sehnal in the Elite Men.
On Sunday everyone got ready for the finals. After one last training session in the morning and the last chance to check out some lines, it was finally time for the final run. The first category to start were the Masters. Similar to the seeding, Billy Caroli (SUI - Fabien bike tramelan) finished fastest, followed by Mads Weidemann (DEN - madsweidemann.com) and Fabrizio Dragoni (ITA - Alessi Racing Team).
After that Vilma Gombalová (SVK - CTM Racing Team) started as the only participant in the U17 category. In the male U17 category Antoine Rogge (FRA - US Cagnes) finished in first place with a time of 2.31,638 minutes. Blake Ross (NZL - Hibike-Gravity) and Benjamin Beck (GER - Pivot Cycles Devo Team) completed the podium in second and third place.
On Sunday it got really exciting in the Elite Women category! During her run it seemed like Nina Hoffmann would finally celebrate her first victory in the EDC, when Monika Hrastnik was split seconds behind.
But the Slovenian Champ delivered a real come back in the second half of the race and finished with a 1.5-second lead in the end, while Hoffmann finished in second place. Jana Bartova (CZE - MaxCursor) completed the podium in third place.
The Pro U19 category attracted some special attention this weekend thanks to Tristan Botteram’s amazing result in the qualification run.
Even if he did not set the best time of the on Sunday, he still took the title in his category and his name will definitely be remembered during the rest of the season. Marcel Merkeli (GER - Propain Gravity Union) reached the second place, followed by Hannes Lehmann (GER - MRC Saracen Racing Team).
The Super Final was opened by Baptiste Gaillot (FRA - Chamrousse Urge bp Enduro Team) with a time of 2.28,142 close to Saturday’s best time. After that he had quite some time to enjoy the sun in the Red Bull Hot Seat, until Miran Vauh (SLO - Blackthorn) finally took his place and seemed to be eager to make history repeat itself by once more reaching the podium as he did with his second place in KG in 2015. After 10 more riders, however, there was some movement among the ranks again, when Vauh’s team mate Luka Berginc set the new best time with 2.25,372 minutes. When the race finally reached the top 5 riders, all eyes were on the huge clock. First, Erik Irmisch crossed the finish line visibly frustrated and ended up in 14 th place. After that Joshua Barth (GER - Carbocage Factory) beat Berginc’s time by split seconds.
Both Bryn Dickserson and Max Hartenstern did not reach his result, so Stanislav Sehnal was the last man to race down the hill and it was clear that he was eager to win. First, he seemed to be even faster than in the seeding, but in the end he only finished in fifth place. A short look at the results of this weekend’s race shows that the first 7(!) riders finished within 1 second – which pretty much summarizes an extremely exciting weekend. In the end Joshua Barth celebrates his well-deserved first victory on the international stage, followed by Berginc and Hartenstern. And we all should make sure to pay close attention to these three during the rest of the season!
Kranjska Gora once more hosted a perfect race this weekend, which was made even better by the new track and the perfect weather. After this second round the European Series enters a one week break before it returns with round three in Abetone (Tuscany). See you there!