Niederberger and Cernilogar win in Spicak
20 Jul 2014
This weekend the iXS European Downhill Cup returned to Spicak in the Czech Republic for its fifth round. Despite hot and dry temperatures, Noel Niederberger and Zarja Cernilogar took the title and collected important points for the overall rankings.
Spicak's bike park has been one of the classic and almost annual venues of the iXS European Downhill Cup for some years now. Being located right at the German border and thus in the center of Europe it is no surprise that Spicak is a very popular destination for riders from all over Europe. This weekend, the EDC invited 250 riders from 20 different nations for another round that might alter the overall standings.
A short recap - it is the fifth of seven races and only five results will be included in the overall rankings at the end of the season. Many of the points have been collected already, but there is still a chance to gain some more. The first four races were far from easy and everyone who has a seat in the upper parts of the standings should be proud and definitely deserves the title.
This weekend's track does not belong to the longest ones but provided some other obstacles: 1750 meters in length and a 320-meter difference in altitude are covered in rocks, stones, roots and a lot of wood. Last year's track had been slightly modified at some parts and proved to be in perfect shape for the race. The weather and the general conditions were nearly perfect, but hot temperatures and the lack of rain made the track extremely dusty and fast. With nearly no grip the riders had to prove real skill, precision and a remarkable feeling for their bikes.
In the seeding run on Saturday Zarja Cernilogar (SLO - Blackthorn GT) made clear that she was eager to take the title of the Elite Women category once more. With a best time of 3:28.843 minutes she edged out her strongest competitor Jana Bartova (CZE - Bikeplac Racing) by six seconds. In the Elite Men category, Johannes Fischbach (GER - RRP Ghost) went fastest and his ambitions for the season were made clear: this time, he won't be satisfied with an overall second place! With a time of 3:02.648 minutes he went 1.6 seconds faster than Ziga Pandur (SLO - Unior Tools Team), followed by Noel Niederberger (SUI - Gstaad-Scott).
On Sunday, the Masters opened the fifth race of the EDC under a bright and shining sun. Fastest rider of his category was Rostislav Stencel (CZE - Bikeplac Racing Team) who currently sits atop the rankings with quite a lead. Vlasimil Hyncica (CZE - Specialized CZ) went second, followed by Frank Hedwig (GER - Rad-Art) who also still holds the third place in the rankings.
After Remy Morton (AUS - NS Dynamics) returned to his home country it got a little more interesting again in the U17 category. He will not be able to influence the rankings any longer in the current season, but he already promised to come back and take part in the EDC again next season. A look at the standings, however, hints that the Italians might dominate the season: Andrea Bianciotto (ITA - Asd Sestriere Bike Club) did not only win this weekend's race, but also took over the lead in the standings. He was followed by Lorenzo Sorrentino (ITA - Ancillotti Doganaccia), who edged out Vojtech Rousavy (CZE - Krabcycles Trek) by only split seconds.
Zarja Cernilogar again dominated the Elite Women category. With nearly the same time as in her seeding run she edged out the current leader of the rankings Jana Bartova by a healthy 4-second lead. After the fifth race of the season, Bartova sits atop the standings, but the gap is getting smaller. After her victory in Bad Wildbad last weekend, Diana Marggraff (ECU) proved her skills and finished in third.
Lutz Weber (SUI - Swiss Downhill Syndicate) was one of the first Elite Men riders after a DNF in his seeding and he delivered a breathtaking performance that brought him a new record with a time of only 3:01.666 minutes. After crossing the finish line, he was allowed to relax in the Red Bull Hot Seat for nearly the whole race as it was not until the Top 10 that someone went faster. When Robin Wallner (SWE - W-Racing Team), last year’s winner in Spicak, came down the hill he was really fast in the first half, but had serious problems in the second one and ended up way outside the Top 10 in the end. Jure Zabjek (SLO - Unior Tools Team) finally managed to beat Weber’s time and to take over the lead. Odds-on favorite Nick Beer was not able to reach this time so that he ended up in sixth place. Noel Niederberger was the first rider to cross the finish line in less than three minutes: after an incredible it took him only 2:59.358 minutes to get down the hill. After that, all eyes were on Ziga Pandur and Johannes Fischbach – both still eager to win- and they were fast, but not fast enough. Pandur took the fifth place, while Johannes Fischbach ended up in third place in the end. Noel Niederberger celebrated his first victory as an Elite rider, followed by the also 17-year old Jure Zabjek. Johannes Fischbach went third, followed by Lutz Weber, Ziga Pandur and Nick Beer.
In the overall rankings, David Trummer (AUT - RRP Ghost) still holds the first place, followed by Manuel Gruber (AUT - Radon Factory Team). After this weekend, however, we have a new third place with Nick Beer.
Five in the books, but still two to go! In August the Cup will return to Italy with round six in Pila, before all the rider will make their way to the final seventh round of the iXS European Downhill Cup in Leogang.
Photos: © Thomas Dietze