Race Report: EDC Brandnertal

Ruetsch and Widmann are the EDC Champions 2019

Another season has come to an end. This past weekend Brandnertal hosted this year’s final round of the iXS European Downhill Cup, crowning Constantin Ruetsch and Veronika Widmann the 2019 EDC champions. Slawomir Lukasik set the best time of the weekend.

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Since its very first race in 2018 the iXS European Downhill Cup crowned a lot of champions. Names like Nick Beer (SUI), Markus Pekoll (AUT), Robin Wallner (SWE), Emmeline Ragot (FRA) and Monika Hrastnik (SLO) went down in iXS history.

Emmeline Ragot - iXS EDC Todtnau 2012 © extreme-pics / Thomas Dietze Emmeline Ragot - iXS EDC Todtnau 2012 © extreme-pics / Thomas Dietze

And also some of the world’s downhill elite started their international careers in this very series including Brook McDonald (NZL), David Trummer (AUT), Valentina Höll (AUT) or Tahneé Seagrave (GBR). Therefore, the protagonists of the EDC 2019 are names to be remembered and their careers to be followed in the future!

The twelfth EDC season included six races in total, the final round once more taking the riders and fans all the way to Brandnertal in Austria. After the rather unfortunate weather experiences in recent years, the date was set a little earlier this season and the organizers and riders were rewarded with some late summer vibes setting the stage for the 2019 season finals in Vorarlberg’s bike park!

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THE RACE

The final race of the season was once more set at the famous “Tschack Norris“ track, covering a height difference of 300 meters along its overall 2 300 meters in length. The combination of some huge jumps and the constant mix of rocks, roots and soft forest ground made it a rather demanding setting for the 170 athletes from 22 different nations fighting for some final points for their rankings this weekend.

Track Walk - EDC Brandnertal 2019_4.jpg

As usual, the final race of the season started with the track walk on Friday. After that there was a lot of time to check out the track and to find the fastest lines during the first 5-hour training session.

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QUALIFICATION

Saturday started with 5 more hours of training before the qualification runs started at 2:30 pm, offering a first chance to take home some points for the overall rankings and the race for the title of the season. This year, the fight was on right until the end especially in the Elite categories, adding even more to the overall anticipation and excitement. Some of the athletes seized the chance to demonstrate their ambitions already during the qualification runs: Veronika Widmann (ITA - Insync Racing), for example, set a time of 3.05,288 minutes with a 5-second gap towards the second place and finished even 10 seconds faster than Lea Rutz (SUI - iXS Gravity Union), current leader of the rankings, diminishing her lead to a mere 38 points. So in order for Rutz to still take home the title, she would have to finish at least in second place on Sunday.

Lea Rutz - iXS EDC Brandnertal 2019 @ Rick Schubert Lea Rutz - iXS EDC Brandnertal 2019 @ Rick Schubert

In the Elite Men category, the leaders of the rankings did not even play a role in Saturday’s podium. Instead, Andreas Kolb (AUT - Gamux Racing) set the best time of 2.34,080 minutes. Meanwhile, odds-on favorite Constantin Ruetsch (SUI - iXS Gravity Union) ended up in 23rd place, while his strongest competitor Christopher Philogene (RSA - 2 Bros Racing) practically lost his shot at the title with a DNF after leaving the race track due to a wrist injury caused during one of his training runs. With his status as ‘protected’, however, he was still allowed to take part in the Elite Men’s Super Final, but it would take both a complete failure on Ruetsch’s side as well as the first place for himself to still take home the title.

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FINALS

Sunday greeted the riders with a few clouds, but the dry and warm temperatures still made for the perfect conditions for the final race of the EDC season. After one last training session, the Pro Masters opened the race. Benny Strasser (GER - Magura Santa Cruz) finished his season exactly like he started it: with a victory. And that was enough to also crown him the champion of the season, followed by Benjamin Herold (GER - Giant Germany Off-Road Team) in second place. Frank Hedwig (GER - Rad-Art Ilmenau) did not take part in Sunday’s race after a crash in Friday’s training session, but nevertheless ended up in third place of the rankings. Get well soon, mate!

Benjamin Herold - iXS EDC Benjamin Herold - iXS EDC Brandnertal 2019 @ Rick Schubert

In the U17 category Nuno Zuzarte Reis (POR - Commençal) took his fifth first place of the season and with it his well-deserved title. Oisin O‘Callaghan (IRL - Trek Ireland Racing) followed in second both in Sunday’s race and the rankings, while Davide Capello (ITA - Team Scoutbike) finished in third place on Sunday. In the female U17 Kine Haugom (NOR - Drammen cykleklubb) snatched the title right from under Izabela Yankova’s (BUL - United Riders) nose. In the end it was only split seconds that divided the both of them, leaving both with 3 wins in 6 races this season, but that was enough for Haugom to take over the lead in the rankings by only 20 points.

Nuno Zuzarte Reis - iXS EDC Nuno Zuzarte Reis - iXS EDC Brandnertal 2019 @ Rick Schubert

But the closest result of the season was delivered in the U19 male category. With only one thousandth (!) of a second Onni Rainio (SWE - Saracen SportSource) took the first place, leaving Ian Guionnet (FRA - Bunny Hop Club) in second. Hannes Lehmann (GER - MRC Saracen Racing Team) finished in third place. In the overall rankings this made Rainio the 2019 champion, followed by Lehmann in second place. In the female U19, Samanta Pesenti (ITA - Team Zanolini Bike) both succeeded in Sunday’s race and took the title.

In the Elite Women category, the weekend definitely did not go as expected for Lea Rutz. Actually, she was the odds-on favorite, but then Veronika Widmann decided to sign up for the race rather last minute and seized the chance to take home the full points for the rankings, crowning her the 2019 champion.

Veronika Widmann - iXS EDC Veronika Widmann - iXS EDC Brandnertal 2019 @ Rick Schubert

This is already her second title after her last victory in 2016 and rounded off what was her most successful season yet. Alessia Missiagia (ITA - Team Zanolini Bike) finished in second place on Sunday, which brought her the third place in the rankings, while Lea Rutz had to settle for vice champion this season after finishing in fourth.

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SUPER FINAL ELITE MEN

This year, the very last competition of the season, the Elite Men Super Final, was extremely exciting and far from predictable, if not unpredictable at all! All the odds-on favorites seemed to have some kind of trouble, while others profited. Erik Irmisch (GER - Team Racing Dudes), for example, fell ill and did not attend the race in Brandnertal, but nevertheless he ended up in third place in the overall rankings at the end of the day without even being there. Davide Palazzari (ITA - Scout Nukeproof), on the other hand, played a more active part in his final result and finished in third place on Sunday, which made him vice champion 2019.

Davide Palazzari - iXS EDC Davide Palazzari - iXS EDC Brandnertal 2019 @ Rick Schubert

Andreas Kolb started really fast, but only reached the second place in the end, while 2016’s champion Slawomir Lukasik (POL - NS Bikes Factory Racing) set the best time of the day.

Screenshot Brandnertal

In the meantime, Constantin Ruetsch seemed to play it safe and finished in 16th place, but with all those points in the rankings, he took the title anyway, while his strongest competitor Constantin Philogene only finished in 24th place due to his injury and, therefore, missed the 2019 podium altogether ending up in fourth place.

Podium Elite Men - iXS EDC Podium Elite Men - iXS EDC Brandnertal 2019 @ Rick Schubert

Of course, the final race of the season is always the most exciting one and Brandnertal once more set the stage perfectly, even if there were not too many visitors this year. Nevertheless, it was a great last weekend of the season with good overall conditions (finally!). And even though the EDC 2019 has officially come to an end, there is still plenty of downhill action left for this season! Next up are the German Championships in Thale next weekend and the final race of the season in Bellwald one week later. Looking forward to seeing you there!