iXS European DH Cup #2 – Leogang
The Out of Bounds Festival in the Leogang Bikepark was on the agenda last weekend. Next to the 26Trix, a as Gold Event of the FMB World Tour classified Dirt Jump Contest, the second run of the iXS European Cup also went ahead.
Since the iXS European Downhill Cup is only open to licensed riders from this year, it could establish itself even more amongst the world elite riders. On top of that, the Leogang race was the first test for many of the 2.3km and 480 vertical metres long World Championship course. All together the starting list was packed as it would be in a World Cup, so it was hard to say who would win the race. After the Salzburger Land was a sure spot for rain during the festival in the last years, the conditions this weekend were almost perfect. 416 riders from 27 countries took to the start, and the current record was already knocked off in the seeding run. At the end Emmeline Ragot (FRA – MS Mondraker Team) and Nick Beer (SUI – Devinci Global Racing) were the fastest riders during the seeding run and all eyes were on the final day.
The conditions were still perfect on Sunday as the highest profile race in iXS history was about to start. 30 riders started in the elite women class. Jill Kintner (USA – Team Norco intl.) started as fifth fastest and managed to break the 2-minute barrier in the interim time first. Tracey Hannah (AUS – Hutchinson United Ride) was even quicker in the interim time, but finished behind Kintner in the end. After those the top three of the seeding run were about to start. Floriane Pugin (FRA – Scott 11), winner of the last year’s World Cup in Leogang, managed to squeeze between the two leading riders, but it was pretty clear in the interim time that Emmeline Ragot and Rachel Atherton (GBR – GT Factory Racing) would decide the race between themselves. Atherton finished in 3:51, five seconds faster than Ragot’s time in the seeding run, and finally won before Ragot, followed by Kintner, Pugin and Hannah.
As of of the first Gee Atherton (GBR – GT Factory Racing) opened the final in the elite mens. Due to a fall in the seeding run in the forest in the upper half of the track he only qualified as 285 and had to accept such an early starting place. But he was already two seconds ahead of the best time from the previous day in the interim time, finishing in 3:25, so he could make himself very comfortable in the Red Bull Hot Seat. His time was the best until Brook MacDonald (NZL – MS Mondraker Team) took to the course. Still a second behind in the interim time, he gained momentum in the lower half and finished first. He was followed by Damien Spagnolo (FRA – MS Mondraker Team), who closely missed out on the time of his team mate and finished behind him. Next one on the course was Greg Minnaar (RSA – Santa Cruz Syndicate), and it was pretty clear in the interim time already that he was on course to win the race. He finished confidently four seconds ahead of MacDonald. Last starters were team mates Steve Smith (CAN – Devinci Global Racing) and Nick Beer. Smith had a perfect run, but could not beat Minnaar’s time. While people were waiting for Beer’s interim time it was announced that he had fallen of the bike, finally finishing at 182. Summing the race up Minnaar won, followed by Smith, MacDonald, Spagnolo and Atherton. Mick Hannah (AUS – Hutchinson United Ride), winner of last week’s iXS race in Winterberg/GER, finished sixth.
In the masters category, where 50 riders took to the start, Jordan Regnier (FRA – Vertical Bike) won confidently. A bit more than 2 seconds behind Nino Antic (CRO – Giant) finished second, with Rüdiger Jahnel (AUT – Specialized-mountainbiker.at) coming third. In the U17 category Marcus Hansson (SWE – Hanssonbil.se) won ahead of Loris Revelli (ITA – Argentina Bikes), followed by Ferdinand Brunold (GER – Mag41.com Racing Team) as third.
All together it was race weekend as no other with perfect weather, breathtaking sports performances, uncountable spectators and a worthwhile atmosphere. The Bikepark Leogang will be on its absolute best this year, as after this successful Out of Bounds Festival the World Championships will be stopping here later this summer.
The iXS European Downhill Cup will be heading to Scotland’s Innerleithen next from 15 – 17 June. More information can be found as usual at ixsdownhillcup.com. There will also be some more video clips that the iXS crew is producing in cooperation with the Red Bull Media House on the website soon.
With Val di Sole World Cup coming up this weekend, the racers get ready for another solid round of competition. Steve Smith is still killing it, here’s hoping he can hit the podium again on Sunday (Saturday night in BC)!