This year, the iXS European Downhill Cup makes its way to Willingen for the first time. 350 riders from 22 nations have already registered for the race and are ready to take home some more points for their overall rankings on their way towards the title.
Johannes Fischbach / iXS European DH Cup Kranjska Gora 2016
The BIKE Festival is officially known as the biggest and most popular festival of its kind. It invites visitors and participants to numerous races at once with the Rocky Mountain Marathon, another round of the Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series, the Cannondale Graval Road Race, the Radon Pump Battle and many others. And on top of that the festival also includes the biggest German outdoor mountain bike fair with more than 180 well-known exhibitors. With a setting like this, the BIKE Festival simply is the perfect host for the second round of the iXS European Downhill Cup.
Anneke Beerten / Specialized-SRAM Enduro Willingen 2015
Even if this is a first in the EDC history, Willingen is far from alien as a venue for downhill races. On the contrary: it already hosted World Cup races several times and offers an impressive 1 650-meter track with more than 300 meters of difference in altitude. And even if this makes it by far the shortest track of the series, it should not be underestimated and still remains far from easy. The bike park course has additionally been modified to fit the occasion and so the stage is set for another high-class race. Last year’s best time in the GDC race was set by Andreas Sieber (GER – Radon Factory Racing) with 02:05.199 minutes, which is extremely fast. After all, the Ettelsberg course has it all: after the jumps right at the top, the track takes the riders right through the woods towards a dangerous mixture of roots and stones, over the bridge across the marathon track and towards the former Fourcross world cup track. Let’s wait and see who can cope with it all and manages to set the best time this year!
Who are the odds-on favorites?
The first of the favorites is again Johannes Fischbach (GER – Radon Magura Factory Team). Not only is he the reigning German Champion, but he also won the first round of the EDC 2016 in Kranjska Gora and now again leads the overall rankings. On top of that, he also sits atop the iXS Standings which takes all the different iXS races of the last 365 days into account at any given stage of the current season. However, Slawomir Lukasik (POL – NS Bikes FroPro) is not far off after he missed the first place in Kranjska Gora only by three tenths of a second.
Sławomir Łukasik / iXS European DH Cup Leogang 2015
And of course there are so many others who are eager to win and definitely have a shot at it, including current European Champion Jure Zabjek (SLO – Unior Tools Team) and Faustin Figaret (FRA – Radon Magura Factory Team) who finished among the top 10 riders in the World Cup in Lourdes in 2016.
The female categories also include all off this year’s protagonists: Kranjska Gora’s winner Veronika Widmann (ITA – Bike Club Egna Neumarkt) will definitely be ready to defend her position right on top of the ranking, while Carina Cappellari (SUI – Radon Magura Factory) already announced that she will not settle with the silver medal for long. But also German Champion Sandra Rübesam (GER- Rose Factory Team), European Champion Jana Bartova (CZE – RRP) and the former European Cup winner Zarja Cernilogar (SLO – Unior Tools Team) will make sure that it remains an open and exciting competition right until the end!
The BIKE Festival in Willingen is definitely worth the trip not only for the riders, but also for visitors and fans. And there definitely won’t be time for boredom – that’s for sure!
Official website: ixsdownhillcup.com