Brendan Fairclough and Alba Wunderlin succeed in Lenzerheide
Lenzerheide seems to have a big plan for the future: from 2015 to 2017 it has been announced the venue of the World Cup and after that it plays host to the World Championships. In the past months, the track has been rebuilt, modified and improved constantly and this weekend we finally were presented with the result: a fast and steep 2-km track with a difference in altitude of 460 meters. What a promise for the future!
The location is simply perfect after the long absence of the Eastern parts of Switzerland in the downhill scene during the past years. This weekend’s race with more than 300 riders proved that the riders have actually been waiting for Lenzerheide to join the SDC agenda. Despite the German National Championships in Albstadt, many riders decided to participate in the second race of the Swiss series instead.
The track was extremely crowded already for the track walk on Friday – whenever a completely new track is introduced to a series, it is important to get to know the track in order to set a fast time. The Trailworks team provided the riders with extreme speed, big jumps, a rock garden and much more. Meanwhile, the weather was as changeable as the track itself, but a mixture of sunshine on a warm Friday and rain and cold temperatures on the misty race days made it rather unfortunate overall conditions in the end.
Saturday’s was not exactly a perfect day for a seeding run, but nevertheless, it was an exciting day for everyone as riders, visitors and the Trailworks team were eager to see how the riders would handle the track. And despite the rain the track was as fast as promised. Emilie Siegenthaler (SUI - Gstaad-Scott) set a best time of 3:43.697 minutes in the Elite Women category with a healthy 7-second lead. However, in the Elite Men category Steve Peat (GBR - Santa Cruz Syndicate) was edged out Brendan Fairclough (GBR - Gstaad-Scott) only by split seconds. This was definitely about to get very interesting on Sunday.
On Sunday the weather did not change very much and the overall conditions actually got worse: although the rain had stopped by Sunday afternoon it was difficult for the riders to see the track and stay on their bikes at some section. There hadn’t been enough time for the track to dry up and the slippery ground took its toll: the riders needed a lot of strength and skill to set a fast time in their final runs.
In the Masters category, Thomas Ryser (SUI - Hot-Trail Racing) demonstrated exactly those characteristics once more after he already had won the seeding and set the best time. Tobias Müller (SUI - 2-Rad Jack Mueller AG) and Marcel Waldmann (SUI - iXS Gravity Union) completed the podium. Meanwhile, Jerome Müller (SUI - Bechtel Cycle) dominated the U17 category with a 7-second lead, followed by Luca Heinzi (SUI - Hot Trail) and Bennet Newkirk (USA - Team Project).
The small field of starters in the Elite Women category was dominated by Alba Wunderlin (SUI - Stützrädli), followed by Géraldine Fink (SUI) and Lea Rutz (SUI - Never Freeze). Emilie Siegenthaler did not start in the final run after a crash in the trainings. Regarding next week’s agenda with the World Cup, the decision is absolutely understandable and definitely the right one. After the second round of the SDC, Géraldine Fink still sits atop the women’s standings, while Lea Rutz follows in second place of the rankings.
The British absolutely reigned the Elite Men category this weekend. On both race days, the podium was completely British. But this really wasn’t a surprise: After all, the British should be familiar with rain… Brendan Fairclough extended his narrow lead in his final run and set the weekend’s best time of 3:05.335 minutes. Joseph Connell (GBR - SC-Intense) came in second, while odds-on favorite Steve Peat ended up in third place.
All in all, it was an exciting weekend and it can be seen as a first test run for some really big events in the future. In the end, bad weather also belongs to the sport even if it might be exhausting sometimes. We’re grateful for the great work of the Trailworks team and their advisers Steve Peat and Claudio Caluori and we’re looking forward to more downhill action at a perfect new venue of the annual agenda. After a short break, the iXS Swiss Downhill Cup will return with round three in August in Anzére.