Course Preview by Johann Potgieter and Stefan Garlicki
Spicak already hosted iXS EDC races several times before and invited the riders already for the sixth time this season. The small bike park in the Bohemian forest has been an inside tip for a long time, but now officially belongs to many riders’ favorite venues and anticipation is always high when it is time to return to the Czech Republic for another race. With 1800 meters in length the track is rather short, but it is packed with lots of action, roots and rocks – definitely not for the faint hearted!
Like almost at every weekend this season, the weather did not exactly improve the overall conditions of the track this weekend. This season, it seems to take even more skill than usual to succeed in the fight for the title, making it even more exciting for the fans. Unfortunately, the weather does not care about fair play and so it started raining during Saturday’s Seeding run just in time for the top Elite Men riders. It was literally impossible for them to reach the current best time that was set by von Glenroy Martin (GBR - Grips), while the track was still dry and in nearly perfect condition. The conditions had worsened so much by then, that most of the favorites this weekend had to fall back on their “protected” status to reach the Super Final on Sunday. At the end, 37 instead of only 30 riders fought for the title.
During the Elite Women Seeding, the overall conditions were however still perfect and Veronika Widmann (ITA - Bike Club Egna Neumarkt) once more demonstrated her skills and ambitions for the European series this year. With a gap of nearly six seconds she set the best time of her category. The best time of the day in all categories, however, was set by Max Hartenstern (GER - MTB Bande Schatzki) in the U19 category. Another promising career which has just begun!
On Sunday, the weather was much better and everything was set for another fast and exciting race. Sunshine and a high-class event like this lured numerous visitors to the track and provided the riders with a huge audience and a cheering crowd during their race runs. The finals were once more opened by the Masters category and Rostislav Stencel (CZE - Bikeplac Racing Team) succeeded and finished only split seconds faster than Frank Hedwig (GER - Rad-Art) in second. Rowan Sorrell (GBR - Bikepark Wales) finished in third place and completed the podium.
After that, all eyes were on the youngest categories. In the U17, Giacomo Masiero (ITA - 3 stars) opened his category as first rider down the hill and set a time that would turn out to be the best time of his category. Masiero won the fourth race of the EDC, followed by Marcel Merkeli (GER - Solid National Racing) and Kristian Poruban (SVK - Peksport Specialized).
In the U19 category Moritz Ribarich (AUT - Swiss Downhill Syndicate) set a best time of 3:08.781 minutes. Fastest rider of the seeding and winner of the races in Willingen and Schladming Max Hartenstern had to settle with the second place this weekend, but still sits atop the overall rankings.
The fight for the crown in the Elite Women category also went into another round this weekend. It seems like Jana Bartova (CZE - RRP) and Veronika Widmann are the odds-on favorites racing neck and neck for the lead of the rankings this season. This weekend, Jana Bartova succeeded. Setting a best time of 3:33.829 minutes she finished only split seconds faster than Carina Cappellari (SUI - Radon Magura Factory). Veronika Widmann finished in third place and had to give way to Bartova who now officially took over the lead in the overall standings with a 22-point lead.
In the Elite Men Super Final Slawomir Lukasik (POL - NS Bikes FroPro) was one of the first riders on the track and instantly set a time of 3:01.725 minutes which led him straight to the Red Bull Hot Seat – and there he stayed… for now. Of course, with a time that was 7 seconds faster than Saturday’s best time, it was clear that this result would be hard to reach. And one by one his competitors indeed failed to do so.
Jure Zabjek (SLO - Unior Tools Team) was the first one who really got close, but it still was not enough. During Fischbach’s final run, all eyes were on the clock, while the seconds were ticking away. First it seemed that the reigning German Champion would not manage to reach the time set by Lukasik, but when he finally crossed the finish line, he beat it by 1.5 seconds and set a new best time with 3:00.246 minutes. It is Fischbach’s third victory in the European Cup this season which once more pushed him to the top of the rankings with a lead of 63 points.
With the second place this weekend, Lukasik also currently holds the second place of the rankings. Jure Zabjek completed Spicak’s podium in third, followed by Faustin Figaret (FRA - Radon Magura Factory) and Basil Weber (SUI - Team Project).
Four races are in the books, two yet to come. The next round of the iXS European Downhill Cup takes us to Les Deux Alpes in France, the last stop of the series before the finals in Leogang in September. We can’t wait to find out who will be crowned the champions of the EDC season 2016! For more information, visit www.ixsdownhillcup.com.
Full results here.