This year the iXS European Downhill Cup returned to Spicak for the tenth time, which officially makes it the eldest venue of the series. The bike park near the German-Czech border is situated right in the Bohemian Forest and is a well-known, as well as popular venue for most athletes. The “Struggle Track” definitely deserves its name and, thus, is a perfect match for the European premium series. With a length of 1800 meters covering a 320-meter descend the track isn’t exactly the longest one of the series, but the mixture of rocks, stones, roots and soft forest ground makes it at least equally demanding!
The European Cup includes 6 different races this year. 5 out of 6 qualification and race results will be included in the overall rankings to determine this year’s champions. And as Spicak already hosted the penultimate race of the series, every one of the 200 athletes from 28 different nations seemed to be ready to fight for some points!
Friday welcomed the riders with chilly but dry conditions. The first 6-hour training session was on right after the track walk which left all riders with enough time to get themselves prepared for the weekend.
On Saturday morning the conditions were a pleasant mix of sunshine and some clouds and the riders were provided with another training session to finalize their lines and get ready for the qualification in the afternoon. In the Elite Women category Lea Rutz (SUI - iXS Gravity Union) made clear that she was prepared to take the lead in the rankings when she delivered her result of 3.45,086 minutes.
Erik Irmisch (GER - Team Racing Dudes) set the best time of the day in the Elite Men with 3.02,468.
On Sunday the weather was at its best just on time for the race and the bike park was soon filled with lots of visitors and fans eager to see some high-class racing. The Pro Masters opened the race and once more Benjamin Herold (GER - Giant Germany Offroad Team) succeeded with a time of 3.16,451 minutes. Benny Strasser (GER - Magura Santa Cruz) reached the second place, followed by Ondrej Fiala (CZE - Ofbike Scott Team) in third.
In the Pro U17 category Oisin O’Callaghan (IRL - Trek Ireland Racing) made it his second victory of the season, leaving behind Robin Novotny (CZE - Ofbike Scott Team) in second place with a clear 8-second lead. Nicolas Baechler (SUI - Idirt racing team) completed the podium after he had already delivered a strong result on Saturday.
Izabela Yankova (BUL - Riders United) won in the U17 female category and almost reached the winner of the Elite Female category with her time of 3.45,856 minutes and extended her lead towards Kine Haugom (NOR - Drammen cykleklubb) in the overall rankings.
The Elite Women category served the crowd with one hell of a show! The 2016 Junior World Champion Alessia Missiaggia (ITA - Team Zanolini Bike) set a time of 3.45,307 minutes and made it her first victory in an international race in an Elite category.
Even though Lea Rutz missed the gold medal by only split seconds, it was enough to take over the lead in the overall rankings. With the first three spots in the rankings only few points apart, the stage is set for an exciting final EDC race in Brandnertal. In the meantime, Jana Bartova (CZE - MaxCursor) completed the podium in third, already celebrating her fifth podium in Spicak.
In every iXS European Downhill Cup race the 30 fastest riders of Saturday’s qualification fight for the podium in the Elite Men Super Final. This weekend, Luka Berginc (SLO - KK Crn Trn / Blackthorn) set the first promising time with 3.02,891 minutes and pretty much watched the rest of the race from the Red Bull Hot Seat.
When all eyes were on the last 5 riders of the day not even the current leader of the rankings managed to reach his time. Instead, Constantin Ruetsch (SUI - iXS Gravity Union) finished in fifth place when he crossed the finish line. Adam Rojcek (SVK - Kellys Factory Team) came close, but missed the title by 1.5 seconds.
Former German champion Johannes Fischbach finally seemed to take the lead… but somehow he did not reach the finish area. Andreas Kolb (AUT - Gamux Racing) was fast, but not fast enough after hitting a rock. The only one still left with a shot at the title was Erik Irmisch, but by the time he reached the final jump, it was clear that it wouldn’t be enough this time. So Luka Berginc (SLO - KK Crn Trn / Blackthorn) took home his first victory in the European Cup this weekend, followed by Adam Rojcek in second and former EDC odds-on favorite Slawomir Lukasik (POL - NS Bikes Factory Racing) in third place.
So this weekend, the European East clearly marked its territory. In the rankings, however, Christian Ruetsch still dominates the Elite Men category, now followed by Erik Irmisch in second place.
Spicak once more made for some high-class racing this weekend! In only four weeks’ time the EDC takes the riders to Austria for the final race of the series in Brandnertal and a short view on the rankings promises another exciting downhill weekend!