The season is already in full swing and ahead lays the first European Cup downhill race of 2013. Again, there will be six different races in 6 different countries on this year’s agenda and there will definitely be some big names among the hosts and riders.

This year’s first race will again take place in one of the most popular venues of the mountain bike scene in Austria: welcome back to Leogang! Already since 2006 the iXS Cup kept coming back there and since 2010 Leogang even managed to replace Schladming as the host for the World Cup. Especially last year’s event is seen as one of the absolute highlights and a role model for this year’s season. Again, the World Cup finals will be preceded by the Out of Bounds Festival, including the FMB-Gold-Contest 26TRIX and the first race of the iXS European Cup this weekend.

Markus Pekoll won the last round in Todtnau, Germany, last year...can he carry over his form for the first round this weekend?

Markus Pekoll won the last round in Todtnau, Germany, last year…can he carry over his form for the first round this weekend?

There are some real big names on the starting list, which makes it impossible to give any prognoses. There are many hot favorites among the 400 riders from 28 nations such as the present world champion Morgane Charre (FRA – MS Mondraker) in the Elite Women category. Also Floriane Pugin (FRA – Gstaad-Scott) might have some strong ambitions after finishing third in the last World Cup race.

In the Elite Men category the long list of popular riders is continued with names like Loic Bruni (FRA – Lapierre Gravity Republic) and Sam Blenkinsop (NZL – Lapierre Gravity Republic) who missed the podium in Fort William only by a few seconds. Another rider who is eager to show his skills again might be Brendan Fairclough (GBR – Gstaad-Scott), not to mention Robin Wallner (SWE – Team W-Racing) who dominated the overall standings in 2012. Most of the local visitors, however, would probably like to see Markus Pekoll (AUT – MS Mondraker) win, which is more than just possible, as far as his present position in the world’s Top 10 is concerned.

The iXS European Downhill Cup isn't all about bikes, bikes, bikes.

The iXS European Downhill Cup isn’t all about bikes, bikes, bikes.

The Out of Bounds Festival 2013 will be the biggest one in its own history. The gates will already open on Thursday and won’t close for 4 days full of mountain bike action. There will be a huge expo-area as well as many smaller events like Thursday’s Bunny Hop Contest, Friday’s Pumptrack Contest and Minibike Race, the Override Afterparty on Saturday and finally the SCOTT Junior Trophy on Sunday. This weekend could obviously get interesting and will definitely cater for visitors of all ages.

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