The BIKE Festival comes to an end and so does the second round of the iXS European Downhill Cup. The race definitely was one of the most exciting highlights in this weekend’s agenda, that also included numerous other competitions with a marathon, an Enduro race, a pump track battle, the Gravel Road Race and a lot more.
It has been the first EDC race in Willingen and more than 350 riders from 23 different nations followed their invitation to the first EDC race on German ground after 4 years. In the past Willingen has been hosting several races of the World Cup and thus can be counted as one of the most demanding courses even if it may not belong to the longest ones with only 1650 meters and a 300-meter descend. After two years as an iXS German Downhill Cup host, however, the organizers decided to take it to another level by adding a few more lines and transforming the Ettelsberg bike park track into a real racing battleground with lots of fast twists and turns, dangerous jumps and roots and, of course, a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the weather was as versatile as the track itself this weekend: starting with sunshine during the first training session on Friday, followed by lots of rain during the night, and then continuing with some more sunshine on Saturday morning, until it again started to rain half through the qualifications.
The first category who really had to stand up to the extremely wet and muddy conditions was the Elite Women. After everyone trained on a dry track during the training sessions, it seemed extremely complicated–impossible even –to anticipate how the race would turn out and how to prepare for it. At the end of the day, however, it seemed like reigning European champion Jana Bartova (CZE - RRP) knew exactly how to adjust to the situation, as she set a best time of 2.39:788 minutes. Veronika Widmann (ITA - Bike Club Egna Neumarkt) finished only 5 seconds behind in second place, while odds-on favorite Carina Cappellari (SUI - Radon Magura Factory) ended up in 15th place.
Also the Elite Men category had some difficulties with the overall conditions, especially with the last section, so that some riders who started extremely fast lost their lead just before the finish line. Enduro Pro Gustav Wildhaber (SUI - Cube Action Team) surprised with a really fast time that brought him the fourth place, while odds-on favorite Johannes Fischbach (GER - Radon Magura Factory) took the first place with a 3-second lead towards Matej Charvat (CZE - Banshee Bikes).
On Sunday morning it finally ceased to rain, but the track was still soaked with water, especially in the lower sections. The Masters category opened the race crowning Rowan Sorrell (GBR - Bikepark Wales) as fastest rider in his category. Nino Antic (GER - Giant Germany Offroad Team) finished in second, followed by Michal Sliwa (POL - Myslenice/Top Riders) in third.
In the U17 female category Anna Newkirk (USA - Team Project) still had a score to settle with Kranjska Gora’s winner Valentina Höll (AUT - YT Industries/Spielberghaus) and managed to take over the lead, pushing Höll to second place this weekend, while Rosy Monaghan (GBR - One Giant Leap Llangollen) completed the podium in third. In the meantime, the male U17 was clearly dominated by Marcel Merkeli (GER - Solid National Racing), followed by Simon Maurer (GER - Herobikes) and Balazs Muszula (HUN - LiMiT Racing Team).
Max Hartenstern (GER - MTB Bande Schatzki) again managed to defend his position on top of his category with a best time of 2:17.939 minutes, which would even have brought him a seat among the top 20 riders in the Elite Male category. Adam Rojcek (SVK - Banshee Bikes) finished in second place, followed by Andrea Bianciotto (ITA - Korax Lappiere Dirty Team).
In the Elite Women category Jana Bartova simply seemed to repeat her seeding run and took the lead once more with a time of 2:33.859 minutes and a 1.6-second lead over Carina Cappellari, who came in second. Veronika Widmann (ITA - Bike Club Egna Neumarkt) completed the podium in third and at the same time took the lead over the rankings.
The Super Final of the Elite Men category once more provided the fans with a really exciting competition right until the end. After Slawomir Lukasik (POL - NS Bikes FroPro) held the best time for quite some time, Johannes Fischbach was the only one able and eager enough to take over the lead. It seemed to be a very close decision, and all eyes were on Fischbach during his run. When he finally crossed the finish line, he delivered the best time of the day with 2:12.277 minutes despite the extremely challenging conditions. Fischbach took the second title of the EDC season, followed closely once again by Slawomir Lukasik and Faustin Figaret (FRA - Radon Magura Factory Team).
The debut of Willingen as a EDC host can be entered in our books as an absolute success! Hopefully that means that another annual host joined the iXS EDC family, as we’re already looking forward to coming back here. The BIKE Festival steadily keeps on growing and the exciting Gravity races add even more to its appeal for riders, visitors and sponsors at the same time! More information you can find here: www.ixsdownhillcup.com