The third race of the iXS European Downhill Cup took place at Innerleithen in Scotland last weekend. With the Scottish weather being extremely challenging, it was the wettest race of the season so far. Ruaridh Cunningham and Jessica Stone could cope best with those conditions and took the wins.
Men's Top 5
1. Ruaridh Cunningham 2. Brook MacDonald 3. Lewis Buchanan 4. Robin Wallner 5. Markus Pekoll
Women's Top 5
1. Jessica Stone 2. Josefine Björkman 3. Rosie Smith 4. Hannah Barnes 5. Erin MaGuire
Complete Results at bottom.
After the first two rounds in Switzerland and Austria all competitors from Mainland Europe had a bit further to go than usual, as the third of seven overall stops took the iXS European Cup to Innerleithen. After the series already stopped here in 2010, it was time again for another visit to Scotland. One week after the World Cup in Fort William it was the second big downhill spectacle in Scotland. Only the weather wasn't up for any racing this weekend, and as a consequence this stop will make history as the wettest race this season. The course was modified exclusively for this race, and was still well ridable despite the wet conditions. Local hero and current British Champion Ruaridh Cunningham (GBR - Alpine Bikes Racing) showed off all his qualities and secured the last starting place in the finals in Saturday's seeding run.
Mud tyres were first choice again on Sunday, although it stopped raining for the finals. After his crash on Saturday Brook MacDonald hit the course a bit earlier and finished faster than anybody in the seeding run on the day before. He made himself comfortable in the Red Bull Hot Seat for quite a while, and it almost looked like he would stay in the lead until the end. Robin Wallner (SWE - Team Are Bike Park Sweden) was the first one to come very close, but he couldn't beat his time in the end. The next one to miss the fastest time by only 5 tenths of a second was Lewis Buchanan (GBR - Chain Reaction Cycles). Markus Pekoll (AUT - MS Mondraker Team), one who can cope very well with conditions like those in Innerleithen, was next to beat the fastest qualifying time. Finishing with the second fastest time in the seeding run, he showed on Saturday that he was ready to attack again after his problems in the last races. But he too couldn't beat MacDonald's time in the final and missed the podium. The last one to finish was Cunningham, and it was pretty clear when he hit the final berms on the muddy meadow that he was going for the win. He finished in 3:02.056, more than 3 seconds ahead of MacDonald to take the win. In the end it was Cunnigham first, MacDonald second, Buchanan third, followed by Wallner and Pekoll. The MS Mondraker Team managed to take all three spots in the overall rankings, with MacDonald first, Damien Spagnolo (FRA) second and Pekoll with only one point difference at three.
In the Elite Women Jessica Stone (GBR - Unior Tools Team) repeated her success from Saturday and finished fastest time again with a 3:55.084, beating her closest competitor by more than 15 seconds ahead. Josefine Björkman (SWE - Swedish National Team) came second, and Rosie Smith (GBR - Bikeart/Knox) finished third. Fastest in the Masters category was Dave Wardell (GBR), followed by Jack Tattersall (GBR) and David Tallontire (GBR - Uplift Scotland). The U17 category was also dominated by British riders. Taylor Vernon (GBR - FOX/Bike it/Scott) took the win, with Daniel Farley (GBR - Wheelbase.co.uk/Kona) and William Weston (GBR - Madison Saracen Downhill Team) finishing second and third. Marcus Hansson (SWE - Team Hanssonbil.se) finished fourth and could defend the overall lead in the class. In the U17 female Charlotte Mallin Martin (GBR) was the only one starter. But looking back Tahnée Seagrave (GBR - FMD Racing) had to hold the flag for the female offspring last season, and is already making her mark in the World Cup at the moment.
Despite the not-so-optimal weather conditions the long journey to Scotland was worth the effort. With three races done, the next stop will be Pila in Italy in August. More videos from the cooperation of iXS and the Red Bull Media House will be published soon as well. More information and photos can be found here on the iXS Downhill Cup Website.