Members of the international downhill mountain bike elite were confronted with obstacles of a very different kind at Red Bull Desafio no Morro as they raced though the winding paths and over the roofs of the Favela Dona Marta at the foot of Rio de Janeiros famous Christ statue. Slovak rider Filip Polc powered his way to victory in the Brazilian metropolis.
Downhill mountain bikers may well be more than used to sprinting, jumping and sliding down over steps, roofs, walls and rocks, but the challenge that awaited some of the worlds best at Red Bull Desafio no Morro in Rio de Janeiro surpassed anything and everything that had gone before. The 760-metre course descended 170 vertical metres, contained 13 special obstacles and was punctuated with plenty of jumps. So, sounds like a normal downhill, right? Wrong. The location for the high-speed event wasnt a mountainside but the Favela Dona Marta at the foot of the world-famous Christ the Redeemer statue dominating the Rio de Janeiro skyline. Reaching speeds of up to 50km/h, the athletes hurtled through alleys no more than 80cm wide in places as they passed living rooms, bars and shops.
Its a bit like in motor rallying when the drivers manage to squeeze the car through the gap at the very last second, commented Slovakias Filip Polc. As if the course through the shanty town wasnt challenging enough, the competitors also had to contend with unexpected obstacles of the winged and four-legged kind on their way down.
Victory in the ten-man final went to the Slovak rider Filip Polc, with Brazils Marco and Britains Dan Atherton finishing second and third respectively. World champion Gee Athertons hopes of glory were dashed by a puncture, and the Briton could do not more than trundle in last in the final.
The favela community also profited from the special one-off event, with more than 100 locals employed before, during and after the race.
RED BULL DESAFIO NO MORRO FINAL RESULTS:
1. Filip Polc (SVK) 01:39:91
2. Markolf Berthold (BRA) – 01.41.57
3. Dan Atherton (GBR) 01:42:29
4. Stevie Smith (CAN) 01:45:16
5. Wallace Miranda (BRA) 01:46:61
6. Doron Cattoni (BRA) 01:49:80
7. Antonio Leiva (CHI) 01:50:48
8. Mario Jarrin (ECU) 01:52:20
9. Volkmar Berthold (BRA) 01:53:35
10. Gee Atherton (GBR) 02:06:80