Switzerland’s Nick Beer and France’s Floriane Pugin won the European downhill championships in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia on the weekend. The course was described as loose, dusty and unpredictable and many riders pushed too hard and crashed.
Beer won the men’s elite competition by almost five seconds ahead of French riders Aurelien Giordanengo and Remi Thiron who finished second and third, respectively.
Beer said: “This is an amazing track, it suits me well. It has steep parts, some technical sections and fast straight parts. I made a mistake on top but I somehow pulled it off in the end.”
Having posted the fastest time in elite seeding runs on Saturday Team GB rider Dan Stanbridge had high hopes for a podium position in the final. Dan said: “I knew it would be a tough race, lots of pedalling at the bottom of the course and technical sections where it was vital to carry your speed but very easy to make mistakes in the loose dusty corners. Sadly most of us fell foul to the unpredictable nature of the tight corners in the woods but realised at the end of the day it was ride like that and either end up on the top of the podium or back in the car park.”
The women’s elite podium was an all-French affair with Floriane Pugin taking top spot ahead of Emmeline Ragot and Myriam Nicole.
Defending title holder Sabrina Jonnier of France finished in tenth after crashing in the first steep forest section. Jonnier said: “I did well in last year’s world cup but winning this title is special. I like this course as well as Slovenia so I’m also looking forward to Maribor.
The junior men’s title was won by Team GB rider who started the race as a hot favourite after setting the fastest seeding time. Taking gold and beating the rest by over three seconds, Kerr set a blistering time of 3:50.09.
Spaniard Lago Tamayo and Frenchman Ivan Oziol took second and third place.
In the junior women’s race, French rider Fanny Lombard took the win ahead of German Leoni Dickerdorf and Italian Alia Marcellini.
Team GB downhill coach Will Longden commented on the performance of the junior men riders: ”Coming away from this championship we can take pride in the fact that the current crop of junior riders are at the top of their game when thrown onto the international stage. Hopefully they can continue this form through to the world championships in Australia later in the year.”
Kranjska Gora, Slovenia
Floriane Pugin in action
Team GB rider Bernard Kerr