The iXS European Downhill Cup, which is designed to fill the gap between national series events and the UCI World Cup, kicked off in Scuol, Switzerland at the weekend. Last year iXS ran a series each in both Germany and Switzerland and in 2008 the European event runs alongside its Swiss and German counterparts.
A total of 250 riders from 15 countries and four continents were involved in the first of the European series events, and changing weather conditions made for a challenging course.
In the women's race Team Sport Promotion’s Miriam Ruchti won by a big margin with her French teammate Caroline Sax finishing second ahead of Team Zonenschein’s Harriet Rücknagel from Germany.
In the junior category, Austria’s Boris Tetzlaff (AClass-Solid) came third behind the winner, Australia’s Rhys Willemse (Tomac Factory Racing) and runner up, Briton Joseph Smith who also races for Tomac.
In the men elite’s race, Austria’s national champion Markus Pekoll (AClass-Solid) occupied the leader’s Hot Seat for more than half an hour and it fell to Swiss rider Nick Beer to remove him on the final run of the day. After he had won the seeding run with an advantage of ten seconds expectations were high of Swiss national champion Beer who was the winner of both the Swiss and German iXS series in 2007. Beer didn’t disappoint, crossing the finish line ten seconds ahead of Pekoll's time.
Scuol's Via Nova race track is one of Europe’s most demanding with steep pitches that see it drop 800 meters in altitude. Many sections of the 3.5km long course are ridden at high speed, but repeated braking drains strength from the riders’ lower arms, making Scuol a real test of stamina. In 2009, the race track will be out of use as the Motta Naluns gondola lift gets a complete renovation, but until October, when the 2008 season comes to an end, riders can test themselves on this toughest of race courses.