In 2006, Leogang acted as the host for the iXS European Downhill Cup for the first time. In the following years it gained more and more attention within the mountain bike scene. After last year’s World Championships, there will be some more highlights in 2013. One of them is already in the books: the first race of the iXS European Cup series. With 415 starters from 29 different nations on the list of participants and even more riders on the waiting list, the perfect conditions for an exciting weekend were already prepared and the list of favourites included more than just a few big names.
This year, the timetable of the weekend was slightly changed. After an early track walk on Friday, the riders had enough time for a first official training session in the afternoon. The 2.3 km course with its 480-meter-difference in altitude was well-known among the riders from previous years and presented itself as dry and therefore really fast. But – as every rider knows – conditions can change very fast. And they did change in Saturday’s seeding run. Whereas it seemed to be a short shower in the beginning, it got heavier in time for the Elite Men category.
Already on Friday, the GoPro Course Check with Floriane Pugin (FRA – Gstaat-Scott) and Emilie Siegenthaler (SUI – Gstaad-Scott) gave a first impression of Pugin’s eager ambitions. In the seeding run she dominated Elite Women category with a masterful performance and a confident 14 second lead, while the Elite Men category was led by Loic Bruni (FRA – Lapierre Gravity Republic). The reigning junior world champion was followed by Aurélien Giordanengo (FRA – Topcycle by Trek) in second place. Although the seeding run result only serves as such, it proved to be more than just a prognosis.
In the finals on Sunday, the weather was on its best behaviour again and the sunshine lured numerous spectators into the bike park who were eager to witness some fast downhill action. The first rider who stayed in the Red Bull Hot Seat for more than just a few minutes was Bryn Dickerson (NZL – John Foord valuation), who came down with a time of 3:24.820 minutes approaching Bruni’s best time of the previous day. Later, he had to give way to Noel Niederberger (SUI – Gstaad-Scott) who finished 3 seconds faster and took the lead until Robin Wallner (SWE – Team W-Racing) set the best time of 3:19.854 min for the time being. After Markus Pekoll (AUT – MS Mondraker) reached the finish line, the hot seat holders changed faster: Wallner was edged out by Pekoll, until Harry Molloy (GBR – Madison Saracen DH Team) took over and was beat by Giordanengo shortly after that. But in the end, the previous day’s prognosis was confirmed and Loic Bruni finished first with a new best time of 3:16.012 min. The top five was rounded out by Aurélien Giordanengo and Harry Molloy, followed by Markus Pekoll and Robin Wallner.
In the Elite Woman category, Floriane Pugin was the odds-on favourite in the finals. Even if the lead was not as big as in the seeding run, she succeeded with a 7 second lead and a time of 3:39.082 minutes. Her teammate Emilie Siegenthaler finished in second and was followed by Fionn Griffiths (GBR – Kenda/Alpinestars) who was the fastest British rider in her category.
Sara Böhm (GER – Team Green DH. Racing) was the only rider in the U17 female category but managed to edge out some of the Elite Women participants. The U17 male category was dominated by Loris Revelli’s (ITA – Argentina Bike) time of 3:33.968 minutes. Alex Marin (ESP – FOX Giant) and Brad Swinbank (GBR – Steve Peat Syndicate) finished in second and third.
Nino Antic started first in the Masters category due to a flat tire on the previous day and stayed in the Hot Seat for nearly the whole race. It was not until the top three that he had to give way to Štencel Rostislav (CZE – Bikeplac racing) who remained in the Red Bull Hot Seat for the rest of the race. Paolo Alleva (ITA – Team Scout/Nukeproof) came down in second and Ruben Castro Carril (ESP – Evil XMS Racing) went third.
Due to changes in the regulations in Austria concerning safety gear and equipment, some of the riders were not able to take part in the race. As these regulations apply to Germany, France, Czech Republic and Switzerland as well, every rider should know that any “failure to comply with gear regulations will result in disqualification”.
All in all, Leogang was again the perfect host for the season opening of the iXS European Cup. Even the weather played along perfectly except that the 26Trix had to be cancelled due to the rather bad weather conditions on Saturday. In autumn, the next highlight will be the World Cup finals. The iXS European Cup, however, will continue its journey already on the upcoming weekend in Špičák/CZE. A video with all the highlights from Leogang will be available on redbull.com/bike. All other race dates and information can be found on ixsdownhillcup.com or at facebook.com/iXS.Downhill.Cup
1 Loic BRUNI (LAPIERRE GRAVITY REPUBLIC) 3:16.012
2 Aurélien GIORDANENGO (TOPCYCLE BY TREK) 3:16.705
3 Harry MOLLOY (Madison Saracen DH Team) 3:18.080
4 Markus PEKOLL (MS MONDRAKER TEAM) 3:19.022
5 Robin WALLNER (Team W-Racing) 3:19.854
1 Floriane PUGIN (Gstaad-Scott) 3:39.082
2 Emilie SIEGENTHALER (Gstaad-Scott) 3:45.946
3 Fionn GRIFFITHS (Kenda/ Alpinestars/ Evil / F10) 3:50.182
4 Zarja CERNILOGAR (Blackthorn GT) 3:50.813
5 Jana BÁRTOVÁ (Bikeplac Racing) 3:52.175