iXS European Round Three – Innerleithen

The third race of the iXS European Downhill Cup took place at Innerleithen in Scotland this weekend. With the Scottish weather being extremely challenging, it was the wettest race of the season so far. Ruaridh Cunningham and Jess Stone could cope best with those conditions and took the wins.

After the first two rounds in Switzerland and Austria all competitors from Mainland Europe had a bit further to go than usual, as the third of seven overall stops took the iXS European Cup to Innerleithen. After the series already stopped here in 2010, it was time again for another visit to Scotland. One week after the World Cup in Fort William it was the second big downhill spectacle in Scotland. Only the weather wasn’t up for any racing this weekend, and as a consequence this stop will make history as the wettest race this season. The course was modified exclusively for this race, and was still well ridable despite the wet conditions. Local hero and current British National Champion Ruaridh Cunningham showed off all his qualities and secured the last starting place in the finals in Saturday’s seeding run.

Mud tyres were first choice again on Sunday, although it stopped raining for the finals. After his crash on Saturday Brook MacDonald hit the course a bit earlier and finished faster than anybody in the seeding run on the day before. He could make himself comfortable in the Red Bull Hot Seat for quite a while, and it almost looked like he will stay in the lead until the end. Robin Wallner was the first one to come very close, but didn’t beat his time in the end. The next one to miss the fastest time by only 5 tenths of a second was Lewis Buchanan. Markus Pekoll, one who can cope very well with conditions like those in Innerleithen, was next to beat the fastest time. Finishing with the second fastest time in the seeding run he showed on Saturday that he was ready to attack again after his problems in the last races.

But he too couldn’t beat MacDonald’s time and missed the podium. The last one to finish was Cunningham, and it was pretty clear when he hit the final berms on the muddy meadow that he is going for the win. He finished in 3:02.056 min with more than 3 seconds ahead of MacDonald and took the win, so in the end it was Cunnigham first, MacDonald second, Buchanan third, followed by Wallner and Pekoll. The MS Mondraker Team managed to take all three spots in the overall rankings, with MacDonald first, Damien Spagnolo second and Pekoll with only one point difference at three.

In the Elite Women Jess Stone repeated her success from Saturday and finished in the fastest time again, declassing her competitors in 3:55.084 and more than 15 seconds ahead. Josefine Björkman came second, and Rosie Smith finished third.

Fastest in the Masters category was Dave Wardell, followed by Jack Tattersall and David Tallontire.

The U17 category was also dominated by British riders. Taylor Vernon took the win, with Daniel Farley and Will Weston finishing second and third. Marcus Hansson finished fourth and could defend the overall lead in the class. In the U17 female Charlotte Mallin Martin was the only one starter. But looking back Tahnée Seagrave had to hold the flag for the female offspring last season, and is already making her mark in the World Cup at the moment.

Despite the not-so-optimal weather conditions the long journey to Scotland was worth the effort. With three races done, the next stop will be Pila in Italy in August.

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