EDC season finale in Verbier

Welzel and Rojcek are series winners

Last weekend, the iXS European Downhill Cup had its season finale. 220 athletes from 23 nations gathered in Verbier, Switzerland. Veronika Widmann and Phil Atwill won the elite races.

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The iXS European Downhill Cup has now been around for 15 years and has seen many great venues on the race calendar. One of the most impressive venues is Verbier, high in the Valais. The mountain village in the French-speaking part of Switzerland has hosted a race of the series several times, but in the recent past the race has been missing from the European Cup programme. So it was all the more pleasing that this year the crowning finale could be celebrated in Verbier.

Unknown Rider - EDC Verbier 2023_1.jpg

The competition was held on the challenging "Tires Fire" track. The start is at an altitude of 2,090 metres below Les Ruinettes. From there, the riders face 2,200 metres of track and a 550-metre difference in altitude until they reach the finish in Médan. These figures alone give an idea of the high demands. But in addition to the external conditions, there is also the nature of the track itself, because the course has everything in the repertoire of a track builder. High-speed alternates with technical passages. Rock gardens, jumps, offsets and curves of all kinds are the ingredients that demand full concentration. And then there is the choice of different lines in some sections, which were probably partly the key to success.

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As always, it started on Friday with the track walk, where some of the participants already had a big grin on their faces. This somewhat longer hike was also an effort for the head, after all, one should memorise the course. Afterwards, six hours of free training were on the programme, after which everyone should really have internalised the track.

On Saturday, the best conditions awaited the participants once again and after the compulsory training in the morning, it was all about full concentration, because the qualification not only allows entry into the Super Final in the Elite Men, but important points for the series ranking are also awarded across all classes. The result also provided a first indicator of the protagonists' ambitions with regard to the outcome of the race. Winners in the elite classes were Simon Maurer (GER - Schornsteinfeger Maurer) and Veronika Widmann (ITA - Continental Nukeproof Factory), while the best time of the day in the women's class was achieved by Eliana Hulsebosch (NZL) from the U17 class.

Veronika Widmann - EDC Verbier 2023.jpg Veronika Widmann dominated the Elite Women class the whole weekend

Sunday again offered extremely good conditions and thus nothing stood in the way of an eventful final. The athletes used the morning training session once again to consolidate their lines and get a good feeling on the bike. It was clear that due to the very long course and the altitude of the venue, they had to be careful with their energy, after all, the final run was the only thing that counted in the end.

As always, the Masters kicked off with Marcus Klausmann (GER - Klausmann Suspension Propain) taking the win. In the following U17 class, the attention was focused on the young New Zealander, as the bang from the previous day still reverberated a little. In the end, the time of 5:01.335 minutes would have been enough for Eliana Hulsebosch to finish second in the elite class, so she could once again underline her quality. But also in the male U17 category, the winning time of 4:14.170 minutes by Lorenzo Mascherini (ITA - ASD Afrer Skull-Rogue Racing) would have been enough for a top ten place in the Super Final.

In the U19 female category, Amelia Dudek (POL - HR Racing Team) took the fastest time and also the overall win. Fastest U19 male rider was Marco Lamaris (GER - PROPAIN Positive), with the series win going to Ondrej Kolečík (CZE - Kellys Factory Team).

Marco Lamaris - EDC Verbier 2023.jpg Marco Lamaris took his first win of the year

The elite women's class was quite strong, so it wasn't easy for series leader Justine Welzel (GER) to claim her title. The German also had to face unfavourable conditions on race day, as she had to start with a fever. She will have been all the more pleased at the end that fifth place was enough for her to be able to call herself European Cup winner 2023. The day's victory again went to Veronika Widmann (ITA - Continental Nukeproof Factory). The Italian champion was the only women to complete the course in under five minutes, repeating her win from last year's European Cup final in Pila. Second place went to Kerstin Sallegger (AUT - Bike Club GIANT Stattegg), who probably not too many would have predicted on the podium. Third place was taken by Kine Haugom (NOR - Haugom Racing Team), who was able to claim her first elite podium.

Veronika Widmann & Justine Welzel - EDC Verbier 2023.jpg Justine Welzel congratulates Veronika Widmann

In the Elite Men class, the Super Final was hard to beat in terms of excitement. The large number of fans gave the race the atmosphere it deserved and the competition was once again an absolute promotional event for downhill sport. Phil Atwill (GBR - Propain Positive) left the field as the winner. With a time of 4:07.506 minutes and a clear lead of 4.5 seconds, the likeable Briton relegated the fastest qualifier Simon Maurer to second place. Third place went to Felix Bauer (GER - SportOkay.com Racing). Adam Rojcek (SVK - Osmos Gravity Team) finished fifth and thus secured the series victory.

Awards Overall Elite Men - EDC Verbier 2023.jpg Podium Overall Ranking Elite Men

The iXS European Downhill Cup is now history. In the background, work is already underway on the 2024 race calendar, which will once again be much more extensive. The final of the PROPAIN Rookies Cup with the iXS International Rookies Championships in Schladming is scheduled for the coming weekend before the season finale of the iXS Downhill Cup in Bellwald, Switzerland.