Miriam Ruchti And Johann Potgieter took the wins, but sadly after breaking her collar bone twice it looks like Emilie Siegenthaler will now be out for the World Champs.
The South African Johann Potgieter celebrating his win at the 5th round of the European Downhill Cup. He now also leads the overall standings, but since when was South Africa in Europe?
Here’s the full race report…
Miriam Ruchti and Johann Potgieter dominate in Špičák
With its fifth race the iXS European Downhill Cup made its third stop of the series in the Czech Špičák. The Kona Bikepark in the Bohemian Forest was perfectly prepared and at last the weather was right for the occasion.
While the sun was shining, the 1.7km long course with a vertical drop of 320m was right dusty. The many rocky passages and open berms were extremely slippy, and made the also otherwise demanding course the right stop for the only appearance of the series in Eastern Europe. A total of 270 riders from 27 nations registered for the race to get important points for the overall win of the series. But the seeding already showed that getting points will be much harder done than said. Markus Pekoll (AUT – MS Mondraker) had to settle with position 18. Emilie Siegenthaler (SUI – Scott 11) broke her collar bone twice in the training and will unfortunately be off for the world championships now. Joshua Button (AUS – SC Intense) also crashed badly on the training and was taken to hospital in a precautionary move. But he was released quickly afterwards, only diagnosed with bruises. Johann Potgieter (RSA – Le Cannabis Canfield Factory Team) could cope best with the dusty conditions. Those conditions seem to be perfectly right for him, he proved that last year already with his win in Ilmenau and coming third on Pila. In both of those races named the course was also dry. In the women’s Miriam Ruchti (SUI – SC Intense) secured the last starting spot for the finals.
Emilie Siegenthaler will be gutted to be missing out on the World Champs.
The riders were greeted by perfect sunshine and many spectators as well on Sunday. The first class for the finals were the masters. As in the seeding run, Run Vlastimil Hybcia (CZE – SK Gfafobal) won in a time of 3:10.944, more than 5 seconds ahead. Thomas Schaal (GER – Team Last International) came second and did sent the in the interim time leading Wilfred van de Haterd (NED – YT Industries) to place three. Van de Haterd could secure his lead in the overall series and was even able to improve that.
Next on the bone-dry course was the U17 class. Here the rankings from the seeding run were repeated, but the dominance of Ferdinand Brunold (GER – Mag41.com Racing) was challenged a bit. With more than 9 seconds ahead he secured a time in the seeding run that would have been good enough for a top 20 finish in the elite men class. He could almost match his time in the final, but Marcus Hansson (SWE – Hanssonbil.se/Lapierre) could shorten his advance ahead of the rest to less than 2 seconds, and came second. Third came Martin Lebl (CZE – Commencal/ONeal), as Hansson could maintain his overall lead in the series.
In the elite women a duel between Miriam Ruchti and Zarja Cernilogar (SLO – Crn trn GT) developed in the seeding run already, as Ruchti could take the lead on Saturday by only 8 tenths of a second. In the final Jana Bartova took to the course as third last. She led in the interim time, but had to settle after Elke Rabeder (AUT – RRP Revolution Racing Project) in the finish. Cernilogar’s interim time made a change at the top clear. She managed to lead by 7 seconds when she crossed the finish line. Ruchti was a bit behind in her interim time, but managed to gain momentum and finished in 3:34.694, 2 seconds ahead of Cernilogar. Due to a closure of the course earlier, some women had to start again, and Simona Jirkova (CZE – Bikestrike.com) managed to finish third after Ruchti and Cernilogar. In the overall standings Emmeline Ragot (FRA – MS Mondraker Racing) leads with 122 points ahead of Ruchti and Cernilogar.
Miriam Ruchti on her way to taking the win, and second spot in the overall title race behind Emmeline Ragot.
The race in the elite men was again unbeatable in excitement. There was some material to talk about even before the race started, as Johannes Fischbach (GER – Ghost Factory Racing) was due to be disqualified, as he had been on the course as it was closed between training and the finals. At the end the German Champion could convince the UCI official that he started his run before the training officially finished, and therefore things were back to normal after a short discussion. Due to a mechanical in the seeding run, Noah Grossmann (GER – Mag41.com Racing Team) was on the course early. With a time which looked like a spot in the top ten, he managed to stay in the Red Bull Hot Seat for quite a while, with the seat being hot in two ways due to the sunshine. Only after half an hour his time was beaten by Lutz Weber (SUI – iXS Gravity Union). After him a change in the lead was evident in Markus Pekoll’s interim time already. Last year’s winner of the overall series could take the lead with more than 2.5 seconds ahead. His time of 3:04.847 would have been enough for the third place on the previous day, but was shortly afterwards beaten by Czech veteran Adam Vagner (CZE – RockMachine). The next riders couldn’t beat his interim time, but as third last to race Robin Wallner (SWE – Team Are Bikepark) could finish in a new best time, as the course was lined by many spectators, but only 3 tenths ahead of Vagner. After him only the former four cross rider Fischbach and the fastest from the seeding run were left in the final. In the interim time Fischbach was still behind, but over the finish line the clock stopped at 3:03.124, more than one second faster than Wallner’s time. After him the question was if Potgieter could repeat his sensational run from the previous day and take the lead of Fischbach. The South African was already ahead in the interim time, but was that enough to win an iXS race again after his win in Ilmenau/GER last year? Time was ticking, but his lead was enough as he crossed the finish line. With 3:02.678 he couldn’t quite match his time from the seeding run, but was still fastest rider to secure the win if the fifth run if the iXS European Downhill Cup. With this result Potgieter could also take the overall lead of the series with 397 points, with Wallner second (393) in front of Pekoll (350), Damien Spagnolo (301) and Brook MacDonald (257).
Johann Potgieter has been a force to be reckoned with this season. Can anyone take the title away from him?
So another successful race came to a close, and with Châtel/FRA and Todtnau/GER there are only two races left.
And current overall standings can be found here.
Footage from the finals is still to appear, but here’s a few vids from earlier on…
GoPro course check with Emilie Siegenthaler
Seeding run action, results and riders views from the Spicak round of the iXS EDC.