6 Things We Learned - European DH Cup: Round 1 Maribor

Apr 23, 2019
by Ed Spratt  
dakotah norton
Photo: Rick Schubert

The first round of the iXS European Cup is over and with the World Cup just days away at the same venue here are five things we noticed from the sidelines.

1. The Brits are back

If you turn back the clock a few years you could have almost guaranteed there would be multiple British riders in the top 10 or even on the podium, but in more recent years Britain has fallen behind in the men's field. In Maribor, three of the top five were British with Danny Hart and Matt Walker taking a 1-2 and Phil Atwill completing the podium in fifth. With some of the other big GB names only just arriving in Slovenia, we could see a similar set of results this weekend and in the Elite Women, we won't be surprised if Tahnee Seagrave and Rachel Atherton continue their domination of women's downhill.
Photo: Rick Schubert

The French may have dominated the 2018 season but it looks like they might have some competition in 2019.

2. Is 27.5 dead?

None of the top five men in Maribor last weekend were running two 27.5" wheels. Matt Walker won the race running at least a 29" front wheel, and teammate Danny Hart is confirmed to be running mixed wheel sizes. Charlie Harrison, Dakotah Norton and Phil Atwill were all on 29" wheels front and rear. This a trend that we expect to continue across the rest of the season, with riders either going full 29er or using 27.5/29 frankenwheelers. Interestingly Rachel Atherton has made the switch to a 29er bike this season and we will be watching to see if the other women follow or opt for the mixed wheel size.
Photo: Rick Schubert

3. Vali Holl and Thibaut Daprela already beating Elite riders
There was some chatter after Vali "only" topped qualifying by a few seconds, but with an 11-second gap to second place in her race run, it is clear that she has not lost any speed over the winter. Not only did she dominate the Junior field but she laid down a time that would have placed her second in the Elite Women's race only two seconds off the top spot. In the Junior men's race, Commencal Vallnord rider Thibaut Daprela came across the line with a 3:14.500 which would have placed him ninth in the elite. It looks like the Elite riders will have plenty to worry about when Vali and Thibaut move up from Juniors.
Photo: Rick Schubert


4. The new generation is here

Although some of the older big names were not in attendance for the first round of the iXS European Cup, no one inside of the top 10 was born before 1990. The average age of the ten fastest men in Maribor was 25 years old. Even inside the top 20 racers, there were only four born before 1990: Mick Hannah, Wyn Masters, Sam Blenkinsop and Gee Atherton. We already saw last year the rise of the young talent with wins from Amaury Pierron, Loris Vergier and Luca Shaw and it looks like this is set to continue into 2019.
Photo: Rick Schubert

5. Tactical Moves

With their full team setups already at Maribor and both the among the top riders in their fields, it was strange not seeing Rachel Atherton or Gwin in the finals at Maribor. Rachel seems to have decided to stay in Wales and get some final prep done before joining her brother and the rest of the team in Slovenia this week. Gwin, however, was flying in practice and look like he was definitely ready to go but then didn't take part in qualifying or the finals. Gwin rarely goes at race pace unless he has to and clearly felt that he was better resting and avoiding any risk of injury than fighting for the win.
Photo: Rick Schubert

6. Strong Form

The first big international race of the year always brings out surprising results when you get to see how is coming into the season strong. Matt Walker just beat out teammate Danny Hart last weekend by 0.086 seconds repeating the same feat from the first round of the British Nationals the week before. Dakotah Norton and Phil Atwill both struggled with injury last season but podium results from them here is a great indicator that they are back up to speed.
Photo: Rick Schubert
Nina Hoffmann was also looking strong in the Elite Women's race taking second place just under four seconds back and putting almost a second into Monika Hrastnik's third-place finish. Gee Atherton had a great end to 2018 with a podium in La Bresse but he couldn't put it together in Maribor and had a disappointing 18th finish. He will definitely be looking to improve this in the World Cup as he not only has to prove he is quick but also the new bike is World Cup worthy.



Previously:
Final Results: European DH Cup - Round 1 Maribor
Qualifying Results: European DH Cup - Round 1 Maribor
Video: Course Preview with Tahnee Seagrave & Vali Holl - European DH Cup Round 1 Maribor
Video: Highlights from the European DH Cup - Round 1 Maribor


70 Comments

  • + 77
 I think it is good form that the World Cup level pros attend and practice at these lower tier events but do not participate in the qualifying and racing part. That way the IXS Cup level riders can see what it takes to get to the top level during practice but they are not being displaced in important points earning finish positions by riders who do not need those points in order to gain entry to the WC level races.
  • + 48
 Maybe don't have an IXS race on the same track 1 week before a WC?
  • + 0
 @acali: that was my call on other Maribor post... the same venue is ok to exist but not this close in time...
  • + 31
 @acali: yeah but it's miles cheaper on logistics which really helps the privateers
  • + 2
 Is IXS UCI sanctioned? I seem to remember the UCI tries to ban riders from racing events that aren't theirs
  • + 2
 @mattg95: yes it is. It's in the UCI calendar at least
  • + 0
 @IllestT: do it after then! but hey I not really fuzzy about it... hopefully conditions may change...
  • + 1
 @mattg95: That's one specific EMTB series being held by the Motorcycle version of the UCI.
  • + 1
 @bulletbassman: now thats a good e-reasoning! arrest my case
  • + 3
 @IllestT: “They should not allow the race to be on the wc track the weekend before, but if they are I wanna do it.” Neko Munally
  • + 26
 Your whole country's English is bad. So give the guy a break.
  • + 2
 You can't talk. Nobody can understand Ratboy and I've seen some clangers from your countrymen. You may have invented it but the Brits no huw ta fook it oop...
  • + 24
 REAL QUESTION WE WANT ANSWERED: Was/is Gwin on blacked out Onzas or Maxxis, or is he actually riding the Kendas?
  • + 14
 He was on legit Kendas in Fontana.
  • + 72
 Aaron slid out in a turn so I’m gonna guess he was on Kenda
  • - 3
 @kleinblake: If he was riding a flat, you'd have a more accurate slapshot.
  • - 1
 I'd be very upset if I were Kenda-IF that is the case.
  • - 2
 @yakimonti: he was on blacked out Maxxis tires for the first few seasons when he switched to Onza being his tire sponsor
  • + 3
 On the black and white picture, you can clearly see he's on the Kenda Hellkat tire, on the front at least.
  • + 0
 @etga6657: That could be an Assegai as well...
  • + 22
 birts were there, fine but the frenchies were not... wait and see this we
  • - 49
flag bizutch (Apr 23, 2019 at 11:31) (Below Threshold)
 Your English is bad. And the flag makes me read it in a French accent, which is funnier
  • + 0
 oui.
  • + 29
 @bizutch: LOL do you speak more than one lauguage? My guess is no, so give it a rest.
  • + 2
 @bizutch: Before you criticise others, perhaps you should learn how English grammar works properly yourself. Even then it's probably better to not bother ;-)
  • - 1
 @locoola: butt hurt much?

I can make fun of someone spelling a slang word "birts" all day.

Bunch of downvoting snowflakes sound too tight. hah
  • + 2
 @bizutch: nah just can't handle ignorant hypocrites. Happy riding.
  • + 1
 @locoola: pretty sure you read the wrong post rhe wrong way on the wrong way. suck an egg & go defend your mom instead of strangers on the net
  • + 1
 @bizutch: I fail to see any ambiguity within this sentence. "Your English is bad".

How exactly do you know nicolai7 isn't my mum. Razz

Anyway like I said without a drop of sarcasm - happy riding. Hope you enjoy the DH, I know I will.
  • + 1
 I think, Bruni won.... first ahead of brits, ;-) I just love it, thanks Loïc !!!
  • + 12
 Troy did qualify first on 27.5 but seemed to have some mechanical issue in the race run. Also brook macdonlad just won crank works nz on his 27.5 in a pack of 29s. To say 27.5 is dead isn't true but pinkbike doesn't ever seem to want to point that out.... hmmmm
  • + 2
 I just switched to a 29er DH bike for racing. There's no way I'd go back to 27.5 for racing. But for actual mountain biking and having fun and being an actual mountain biker who lives to be out there on the trails, it's 27.5 alllll the way. I think both will be equally as popular for a while.
  • + 1
 @thesharkman: I thought the same thing, till I started mixing. It’s the future bro.
  • + 15
 7. Nothing will be the same at the world cup
  • + 4
 Wet world cup...mhmmm...the roots...
  • + 10
 7. Maribor is reminiscent of Haribo. Eat more gummybears, people.
  • + 12
 avoid the sugar free ones though.
  • + 3
 @tkrug: If I sent a five pound bag of them to my ex does that make me a bad person?
  • + 1
 @taquitos: is your ex a total chubber who can't stop snacking?
  • + 8
 Guess Ed did not see Troy`s race run highlight video.

www.instagram.com/p/BwhplNTAo9s
  • + 7
 Am I the only person who can visibly see the 29er rear wheels wobbling all over the place in the Maribor videos from this week?
  • + 3
 That happened on 26” wheels too.
  • + 3
 @davechopoptions: yeah, but that had more to do with crappy rear swingarm designs. hah...

Should have seen my Rocky RM9. I had a buddy fall off his bike laughing when I rode a cross rut & it swam like a carp!
  • + 1
 I noticed the wobbling, too. But I believe it's intentional by the teams with their wheel building, to help give a more compliant ride in gnar. As long as the front keeps tracking, I guess...
  • + 1
 @bizutch: haha...carp
  • + 1
 @rookie100: That's what it felt like. A lazy fish tale.

You'd get on an off camber and try to lean the bike hard but the wheel would just stay vertical and go it's own direction. Sucked. It's why Kirkcaldie ran a 24" rear.
  • + 3
 Edit..... Smile
The Brits are back... coz the Frenchies, American didn't turn up.
Riders rode 29 coz companies have saturated 27.5 and need something new to sell to the masses
The new Gen do great when everyone isn't there. (but the "new Gen" are still not that new gen as they have been around a while, it was a mix of new and old, just the really old gen have been hogging the WC for a while, pretty much until AP last year).

Its only what happens this WC weekend that really matters, everything else is just noise. Thats what I have learned over the years when it comes to a WC. Not timed training, that means nothing, Qualies and ultimately the race run.
  • + 3
 This thing with juniors that would be top ten happened already in the past, and when they came in elite they didn't confirm. Took them a couple of races to get back to speed, why ?
  • + 2
 My guess is that when they are smashing the juniors thier mental game is strong, and when they go up to the elites they realise they are in with the big dogs and self doubt/belief takes a knock, maybe.
  • + 6
 30" soon
  • + 7
 30.5, gotta keep the trend alive.
  • + 1
 @MrCerulean: that's too much. Too much by .01 exactly.
  • + 4
 Matt Walker won on 29 front and rear - he’s been riding that for some time now.
  • - 1
 Surprising that none of the articles, predictions or fanboy comments include Martin Maes as a top contender. He has already shown he is carrying form over from last year. If he is not on your fantasy team, well, more for me!
  • + 2
 Was Vali on a 29er front and rear? shes so little, but goes so fast!
  • + 3
 @thesharkman: what are you sharkman, 12?
  • + 1
 Does anyone know of a online service or app that covers these IXS races?
  • + 1
 Looks like some rain for the weekend in Maribor?
  • + 1
 None on 27.5
And the top on a 27.5 rear ?
  • + 2
 "None of the top five men in Maribor last weekend were running two 27.5" wheels"
If you read it, it is clear about that. No one on TWO 27.5 wheels.
  • + 2
 Matt was on 2x 29” wheels.
  • + 7
 Well to be fair troy Brosnan qualified 1st on 27.5 front and rear but seemed to have a mechanical issue or something in his race run.
  • + 2
 @nismo325: actually looks like he he was having some fun on his race run and didn't take it entirely seriously, check out the video posted in comments above.
  • + 1
 Okay ????????
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