Preview: Final in Verbier
Verbier in the beautiful Valais is not a regular in the iXS Cup. The last events were in 2015 and 2017 as part of the Swiss series, and before that there was a five-year break. At the spectacular European Cup race in 2009, none other than Duncan Riffle (USA - Giant Nerd) won the elite men's class, Floriane Pugin (FRA - Ironhorse) the women's and Brook MacDonald (NZL - Ancelotti) the junior category. Despite the extended abstinence, the high altitude bike park is still always very active and has hosted other race formats in the recent past. It is all the more pleasing now that the venue has found its way back into the European Cup calendar.
The track called "Tire's Fire" of the bike park located in the French-speaking part of Valais is definitely one of the most physically and technically demanding in Switzerland. The start is at 2090 metres above sea level below Les Ruinettes. From there, the riders will face 2200 metres of track and 550 metres of altitude gain before arriving at the finish in Médan. These details alone promise a high level of challenge, whereby the nature of the course and the partly high speed also require enormous concentration.
Once again, a whole range of athletes will start as favourites. Especially in the Elite Men's field the circle is quite big. Looking at the overall ranking, it is certainly Adam Rojcek (SVK - Osmos Gravity Team), who with his victories in Losinj and Semmering has a considerable lead over last year's serial winner Luka Berginc (SLO - DH Visit Pohorje). But the British Phil Atwill (Propain Positve) and Adam Brayton could also have something to say about the podium.
Adam Rojcek leads the series ranking with 603 points
In the Elite Women class, Justine Welzel (GER) will try to defend her lead against Lisa Gava (ITA - Honda Downhillher Female Racing). Also within striking distance is local hero Delphine Bulliard (SUI - Verbier Racing), who everyone has to fear due to her second place in Losinj and her home advantage.
Justine Welzel is currently enjoying her holiday and will return to the race track refreshed
In the Junior class, Lino Neumann (GER - Team Herobikes) is currently in the lead, who has to hold his own against his strongest rider Ondřej Kolečík (CZE - Kellys Factory Team).
And what about Maribor?
Unfortunately, no replacement date could be found for the race in Maribor, Slovenia, which was cancelled in spring. To date, there is still no new track that could be used for a race. Unfortunately, forest work due to bark beetle infestation has meant that the former course partly no longer exists. The local organisers are now hoping to be ready again by spring 2024, when they can once again stage a European Cup race. All those who had made a series registration will receive a notification and the entry fee back, of course.
Unfortunately, this left the series with only three races, which of course does not meet our aspirations. However, we can say that for 2024 we are talking to more interested venues than ever before and hope to publish a comprehensive and well-distributed race calendar with new venues in due course.