The Out of Bounds Festival in the Leogang Bikepark took place this weekend. Next to the 26Trix, a Gold Event of the FMB World Tour classified Dirt Jump Contest, the second run of the iXS European Cup also went ahead.

Since the iXS European Downhill Cup is only open to licensed riders from this year, it could establish itself even more amongst the world elite riders. On top of that, the Leogang race was the first test for many of the 2.3km and 480 vertical metres long World Championship course. All together the starting list was packed as it would be in a World Cup, so it was hard to say who would win the race. After the Salzburger Land was a sure spot for rain during the festival in the last years, the conditions this weekend were almost perfect. 416 riders from 27 countries took to the start, and the current record was already knocked off in the seeding run. At the end Emmeline Ragot and Nick Beer were the fastest riders during the seeding run and all eyes were on them come race day.

The conditions were perfect on Sunday as the highest profile race in iXS history was about to start. 30 riders started in the elite women class. Jill Kintner started as fifth fastest and managed to break the 2-minute barrier in the interim time first. Tracey Hannah was even quicker in the interim time, but finished behind Kintner in the end. After those the top three of the seeding run were about to start. Floriane Pugin, winner of the last year’s World Cup in Leogang, managed to squeeze between the two leading riders, but it was pretty clear in the interim time that Emmeline Ragot and Rachel Atherton would decide the race between themselves. Atherton finished in 3:51, five seconds faster than Ragot’s time in the seeding run, and finally won before Ragot, followed by Kintner, Pugin and Hannah.

Gee Atherton was the first rider down in the Elite mens field. A fall in the seeding run in the forest in the upper half of the track meant he only qualified as 285 and had to accept such an early starting place. But he was already two seconds ahead of the best time from the previous day in the interim time, finishing in 3:25, so he could make himself very comfortable in the Red Bull Hot Seat. His time was the best until Brook MacDonald took to the course. Still a second behind in the interim time, he gained momentum in the lower half and finished first. He was followed by Damien Spagnolo, who closely missed out on the time of his team mate and finished behind him. Next one on the course was Greg Minnaar, and it was pretty clear in the interim time already that he was on course to win the race. He finished confidently four seconds ahead of MacDonald. Last starters were team mates Steve Smith and Nick Beer. Smith had a perfect run, but could not beat Minnaar’s time. While people were waiting for Beer’s interim time it was announced that he had fallen of the bike, finally finishing at 182. Summing the race up Minnaar won, followed by Smith, MacDonald, Spagnolo and Atherton.

All together it was race weekend as no other with perfect weather, breathtaking sports performances, uncountable spectators and a worthwhile atmosphere. The Bikepark Leogang will be on its absolute best this year, as after this successful Out of Bounds Festival the World Championships will be stopping here later this summer.

Tue 29th May, 2012 @ 1:28 pm

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Greg Minnaar

South Africa