It seems DH marathon events are becoming all the rage these days, as the inaugural Dowka u Bc in Slovenia that took place last weekend goes to show, attracting riders from around the world to an oft-ignored part of Europe.
With a 14km course with a 1750m elevation drop, competition was fierce, a young 19-year-old Nejc Rutar winning this first running of the event. Racing from the start at Mt. Kanin to the town of Bovec, the MBK Hidria/Team Scott Lactat rider finished just 27 seconds in front of second place finisher, national DH champion Jan Cestnik (Cult MTB Trbovlje). Only 6 seconds behind in third was the ex-junior cross country racer Primož Ravnik (KD Sportpoint). It took all three podium finishers less than 22 minutes to complete the course.
Cestnik took the lead from the start line down the steep and fast ski slopes, through the tricky deep gravel. But he crashed twice within the first five minutes, dropping out of the top five. Rutar took the lead in front of fastest qualifier Ravnik, and Fabian Alejandro Bonanno of Argentina, third fastest in Saturday’s qualification run, followed in third but was slowed down by problems with his chain. Rutar took off from Ravnik lower down the course in tight technical sections.
Cestnik kept gaining spots after his crashes and entered the technical middle section of MTB Park Kanin in third place. Mid-course though saw him catch Ravnik who gave up after a short but intense battle for second.
“We were touching elbows and I didn’t want us both to go down in those rocks,” says Ravnik, congratulating Jan on his pedaling efforts.
“I escaped the heavy traffic right off the start with just Cestnik in front of me. We were really flying, much faster than in practice. We were hitting about 70 kph in that deep gravel. Then he crashed and I had nobody else in front of me all the way to the finish. I didn’t risk too much in the technical sections and I tried to save some energy for the last pedaling parts before the finish. Somehow I made it to the end,” said Rutar, who will be defending his National DH Series lead in the finals next Saturday in Kranjska Gora, the 2009 European DH Championships venue.
Dowka u Bc attracted riders from Argentina, Austria, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy and Slovenia, with 37 riders making the trip. But even 37 riders provided for an exciting race. Spectators turned out across the course to cheer on the riders, with a live video screen relaying action from higher up the course to the those waiting in the finish arena.
More at www.dowka.si