The iXS Swiss Downhill Cup stopped in the Wallis last weekend. 280 riders from 12 countries took up the invitation to Anzère and experienced a perfect weekend of racing with fair weather and a relaxed atmosphere.
Even as the number of spectators usually drops at the end of the season, there was no sign of that in Anzère. At the third of four races riders were racing for valuable points for the overall win of the series, as well as winning the race. The 2km long course has a vertical drop of 300m and is not known for being the most difficult course in Switzerland, but is well known for its fun factor amongst the riders. But at the end it's not the fun that matters, but the result.
On Saturday Richard Leacock (NZL – Kiwi) secured the fastest time in 3:46.981 min, as some of the favourites finished with problems. To name but a few, Lutz Weber and Andy Schäfer (both SUI - iXS Gravity Union) finished way below their expectations, and therefore missed out on securing valuable points for a decision in the overall series. In the women’s category it was down to a duel between the Swiss Champion and the Swiss Vice Champion, so between Miriam Ruchti (SUI - SC-Intense) and Martina Brühlmann (SUI - iXS Gravity Union). On Saturday Miriam Ruchti won it, which might be due to the fact that Brühlmann had to battle with an injured finger for a while now.
It rained quite heavily on Saturday night, with the only consequence that the course was less dusty and a wee bit faster in the final runs. The wind played a much bigger part this time, as the riders had to battle against it in the open areas in the upper section of the course.
The finals started at 12.30 sharp with the non-licensed classes, and the licensed classes took to the course at 2pm. With the masters first, it looked like the usual battle between fresh Swiss Champion Christian Greub (SUI - Radbar Racing), the winner of the last race, Thomas Ryser (SUI - Thömus HOT-TRAIL), and Marcel Waldmann (SUI - iXS Gravity Union). In the end Greub decided the race for him, 2 seconds ahead of Ryser with Waldmann completing the podium as third.
In the U17 Nicola Friedli (SUI - Friedli Bike Style) booked his spot in the race history with being the fastest on both days, with Myles Weber (SUI - Team Project) only 2 tenths of a second behind him followed by Niko Kindle (LIE - Scott Team Bike Garage Triesen).
In the women's Miriam Ruchti dominated the race this time. Although she was in 4:21.290 about five seconds slower than on the previous day, she finished almost 15 seconds ahead of Martina Brühlmann. Ruchti has now taken the overall lead of the series and will be very hard to catch, so it is very likely that she will bring home the win of the series on top of her Swiss Champion title.
The field of riders in the Elite men's category proved a bit more excitement. The first one to watch was the new Swiss Junior Champion Maxime Chapius (SUI - Hot Point Geneva CH), finishing in 3:47.855 close to the fastest time of the seeding run. He proved yet again that he is one to watch out for in the future, and enjoyed the comfort of the Red Bull Hot Seat as the riders behind him had to fit in after him. The first one to come close to him was another junior. For Felix Klee (SUI - Stöckli Bike Geroldswil), taking to the course as third last, the clock stopped 1 second behind the fastest time, and all looked good for a double win of the juniors this time. But Fabian Bieli (SUI – aendus-bike-gallery.ch) managed to place himself between the two, securing the reputation of the older Swiss elite riders. The last one to race was Richard Leacock, fastest rider of the seeding run. Pretty much unimpressed he repeated his run from the day before. The scoreboard displayed 3:46.327 min, followed by -1.528, which meant that he beat his time from the previous day and was faster than any other rider on the weekend. The final result was Leacock first, followed by Chapuis on two and Bieli third, followed by Klee. In the overall rankings four riders are within 10 points between them, so the pressure is on for the last race. Leacock has taken the lead with 265 points, followed by Bieli and Weber with 256 at two, and the two juniors Klee (255) and Chapuis (218) on four and fife.
To sum it up, Anzère proved to be fun once again, and on top of that this spot in the Wallis seems to be weatherproof, as the race action once again took place under perfect sunshine. The Swiss series is now off for a month before returning to the German-speaking part of the Wallis. On the first weekend of October the final of the series is scheduled as every year in Bellwald, with the iXS season finishing as well. Fotos: © Andreas Manecke