In Spain, downhill has never been, and probably never will be a mass sport. That's a fact. Yes, Spain may have great trails and be one of the favorite places to train in the winter for the majority of the European pro riders, but for most of the population, it was always considered more like a game played by mental people who want to get hurt rather than a real sport. Riders and teams always wanted a chance to present the sport to the masses and explain the techniques, the risks and the emotions of the sport, and with great efforts, they started to find support in companies, brands, and even some public institutions. To take the sport even closer to the people, some urban races appeared in the race calendar, making the action even easier to follow for the spectators. As a result of all these actions, now there are Cups and Championships in almost every of the 17 regions of Spain, and the number of licenses is growing year after year.
One perfect example of all this can be found in Sarria, a little town in the North West of the country. Since 2012, the local DHGTeam has been working successfully with the local authorities and businesses to create an urban race in the town, and the thing is getting bigger and bigger as the years go by. These last years, the race has become so popular that the council allowed us to close the traffic in the center of Sarria for the weekend of the race, making it look more like a bike festival than just a race. This, together with the fact the Route of Santiago de Compostela also known as St. James's Way goes across the center of the town which creates a special atmosphere, making the astonished pilgrims have a rest to enjoy the show.
Seeing the impossibility to compete with the greatest urban downhills in terms of inclination, the DHG crew started to work in wooden modules trying to make the track fun to ride but also demanding for the riders as they increase their speed. There are wooden structures everywhere with lots of different shapes and sizes which makes every one of them unique. Obviously, as an urban track, there are flat and straight sections, but the sensation is going non-stop from stairs to doubles, jumps or wall-rides. According to all riders comments, this year's track was a complete success, pointing out the ease to make some tricks on any jump and the high physical demand while going on flat-out timed runs.
This year, the level of the competition has risen with some high-level riders like Eva Castro and Toni Ferreiro. Castro, former World Cup 4-X racer, 10 times 4-X National Champion and three-time Downhill National Champion. Then, Ferreiro, three-time Downhill National Champion, two-time Enduro National Champion, former World Cup downhill rider and current EWS rider, plus, Pinkbike's best enduro privateer, took the race to a new level, making everyone to give their best to achieve a good final result.
After the two timed runs, Eva Castro was finally able to win the Elite Women category ahead of Fany Cabarcos and Lucía Vázquez. Toni Ferreiro was not so lucky, finishing in second position after Marco Veiga, whose perfect first run was enough to get the first place in Elite Men category after timing technical issues for all riders on their second runs. Esteban Paz took the third place in this category.
After this edition, there is only one final comment to make: Sarria urban downhill has become without a shadow of a doubt, the referent urban downhill race in Spain, and hopefully will become even bigger in the next years to come.
There is no fancy gondola in Sarria, but it only takes four minutes to the top.
Prepared for another go. Ready, steady...
As some parts of the track go alongside the Route of Santiago de Compostela, pilgrims could have a break and watch the show.
The typical training time whips for the crowd.
The typical training time one-handed wheelie for the pictures.
And the typical full-power pedal on flat sections.
There is wood everywhere, literally, even on top of a butane gas-bottle truck.
Training sessions are always fun and relaxed here in Sarria.
Jumps, wallrides, drops... All structures are big, if not huge.
Sun goes down late in the summer, so training session can be a bit longer than the regular.
Eva Castro posing after Saturday's training session.
The race day starts like the previous day, with loads of bikes going and going under the scorching sun.
The girls don't hesitate to go big on the jumps.
Any place is a good place to check for other rider's lines.
Did you say selfie? Let me strike a pose.
The track is fast. Very fast.
It's always good to rest for a while before the race runs.
Some riders prefer a good talk to calm their nerves though.
And after the final adjustments, the race is on.
Locals are the favorite for the spectators, but they cheered every rider no matter who.
Any jump gives room to do it nicely, even wearing old leather boots.
Any race, any grip, and any tiny cowbell are good to initiate young people in the sport.
These long stairs can make a difference between the good riders and the best. Keeping the brakes open is the key.
Two ways to watch the same race: through the screen or live. The third option would be behind the lens.
People invaded every part of the track to enjoy the race from the beginning to the end.
Lucia Vazquez, former Spanish Open XCO Champion, took the third spot on the Elite Women category.
The enduro rider, Fany Cabarcos finished as the second fastest woman of the weekend in her first downhill race.
The national legend, Eva Castro was unbeatable all weekend and won by almost eight seconds.
All the women racers on the podium.
Yuriy Tomas, Marketing Manager at Specialized Spain, styling it up on one of the first jumps of the track. He won the 40+ category.
Despite a crash on his second race run, local rider, David Díaz set the fourth fastest time overall and first in the 30+ category.
Locals were on fire. Jorge Lopez won the Cadet category with the 28th fastest time overall.
Marcos Fernandez was the fastest junior of the race.
Esteban Paz made a solid run to get the third fastest time overall and the win in the U23 category.
After a very hard night partying in Sarria style, Ivan Mourelo managed to get the third spot of the Elite Men podium.
He couldn't win this time, but Toni Ferreiro finished second overall on his enduro bike.
Marco Veiga gave his best to reach the top spot overall.
Besides the trophy, podium riders get some local food -that doesn't last long- as prize. #SayCheese
Already counting days for the next year's race.
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