END THE SEASON WITH TRADITION
Now it's official, the season for the iXS Downhill Cup is over and with the results of the last race in Bellwald, Switzerland, the winners of the series have also been determined. In addition, the title of German Champion for the elite class was awarded at this event.
Traditionally, the season finale of the iXS Downhill Cup takes place in Bellwald on the first weekend in October. And in 2021, even after the pandemic-related break last year, this custom continued. Located high up in the canton of Valais in Switzerland, Bellwald is deliberately scheduled to take place around this time every year as conditions tend to still be pleasant before the wrath of Autumn takes complete control.
The route of the bike park, which continues to expand more and more, is considered to be quite the full-throttle course with a strong factor of stoke. Spanning length of 2,200 meters and with an difference in elevation of 400 meters, the course offers everything that any track builder would like to have in his track kit. High-speed passages littered with all kinds of jumps, root sections, stone fields, bank curves and meadow curves are the ingredients of this route, which planted smiles on all the faces of participants. The popularity was certainly one of the reasons why around 350 riders from 16 nations accepted the invitation to the race, with the same attendance happening 5 years ago.
Those who arrived on Friday were welcomed with blue skies and optimal riding conditions. Before the track was opened for the training session, participants had the opportunity to walk and scope the track. With an extraordinary mountain panorama, a promising route, and beautiful weather, the track walk proved to be pleasant and of important, as the first strategic pre-selection of potential lines could be scouted . In the training that followed, the athletes had time to test and solidify their choice of lines.
On Saturday morning, contrary to some predictions, the conditions were perfect again, so that one could unreservedly attest to the good work of the weather officers. The first hours of the day were again reserved for training before things would become serious for seeding in the afternoon. The seeding run took off and gave a good indication of what results of the final could be, which were not only important for the day's victory and the overall standings, but also for the German Championship for all the German elite riders who were in attendance. The fastest riders of the day were Charly di Pasquale (FRA - Forbike) and Nina Hoffmann (GER - Nina Hoffmann Racing - Stif). The fastest Elite Men rider from Germany, however, was Simon Maurer (GER - Assault Racing).
Sunday started off a bit of cloudy, however the weather was forecasted to be much grimmer, prompting officials of the commissioners' committee to release a warning, stating that if the race had to be stopped due to bad weather conditions, the results of the seeding run would count. Despite the forecast, the weather cooperated and the race was held under fair conditions.
Samuel Zbinden (SUI) immortalized himself as the winner in the licensed classes at the Masters, Mike Huter (SUI - Gamux Factory Racing) as a U17 rider and Christopher Ström (SWE) in the U19 class. In the highly acclaimed Elite Women class, Nina Hoffmann was once again able to secure the title of German Champion and won the race with a time of 4: 01.766, a full 17 seconds ahead of Delia da Mocogno (SUI - Bikewelt Factory Racing) and Lea Rutz ( SUI - POC Norco Gravity). Justine Welzel (GER) crowned her season with fifth place, bringing her a series victory. Ramona Laura Kupferschmied (SUI - Swiss MTB Pro Team) finished the season in second place in the overall standings, followed by Roos op de Beeck (BEL - Mondraker).
Once again, the excitement of the race in the elite class was hard to beat. In the end, Tristan Botteram (NED - Canyon CLLCTV) won with 3: 32.694 minutes and just under a second ahead. The flying Dutchman was able to finish his season perfectly with another victory after the overall victory of the European Cup.
Basil Weber (SUI - teamproject.ch) came second, while Simon Maurer (GER - Assault Racing) secured the title of German champion with third place. The previous owner of the jersey and thus favorite, Max Hartenstern, made a costly mistake, which finished him two tenths of a second behind Maurer. In the overall standings, Felix Bauer (GER - Sportokay.com Racing) saved his lead by just eleven points and won the iXS Downhill Cup for 2021. Simon Maurer was second in the series classification, followed by Julian Steiner (GER).
In conclusion, one can say that Bellwald is always worth a trip, especially when the iXS Downhill Cup is celebrating its finale there. In general, the season was understandably not easy, with only four races the series taking place, probably at the lowest level in terms of the number of venues. But despite all the challenges that the year presented, the events that were hosted turned out to be great and supported with a healthy attendance of participants. Hopefully this ever-looming pandemic will finally be over next year, allowing for the return of a full racing calendar without cancellations and changes. The last 2021 race of Racement will take place next weekend as part of the Specialized RockShox Rookies Cup in Oberhof, Thuringia.