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The Europe Series kicked off the season in Monte Tamaro/Switzerland with some 300 competitors from 16 countries on the top-notch starting list. Triumphant winners were Markus Pekoll and Emilie Siegenthaler.

The first race of the season is always one of the most exciting, simply because no-one knows what form the bikers are in after the long winter break. So the kick-off in Monte Tamaro also served as the initial barometer for the coming racing season. The starting field included top-notch competitors, with numerous international racers taking on the highly challenging course. The topographic statistics and the expected long race time alone provided an indication of the level of difficulty of the route, beginning at the middle station of the mountain railway and ending at Rivera. The many high speed sections and extremely slippery ground conditions after rain on Friday also demanded concentration and, above all, stamina. The course, however, improved steadily until the final on Sunday, with perfect outdoor conditions on the actual race day. 
Markus Pekoll on his way to victory.The seeding run already provided a first indication of the favourites’ form. Nick Beer (SUI - Scott 11) and Emilie Siegenthaler (SUI - Scott 11) cemented their ambitions for the race on Sunday with best times. In the final instance, however, it’s all about being the fastest rider on race day and competition was stiff.

Excitement was high when the final of the Elite Men category took place. The Top 30 repeatedly smashed the lead time, with hardly anyone able to hold onto the Red Bull Hot Seat for long. The first serious contender to cross the finishing line was Brook MacDonald (AUS - MS Evil), but he was later pushed off the top spot by Marcel Beer (SUI - GT/iXS). Neither time was, however, good enough to take a place on the winners’ podium, with Lorenzo Suding (ITA - Pila-Black Arrows) gaining third place with a finishing time of 4:36. Joshua Button (AUS - SC-Intense) demonstrated his class with a lead of less than 3 tenths of a second to come second. Markus Pekoll (AUT - MS Evil), last but one to start, achieved the best time of 4 hours and 33 minutes. The only rider with a chance of beating him was Nick Beer, who however finished far down the field after falling.
Emilie Siegenthaler, 1st Place Elite Women's DownhillAmong the Elite Women Emilie Siegenthaler was able to defend her top position in the final, with a finishing time of 5:31 and a lead of over 25 seconds, thus achieving full points in the overall ranking. Second place was taken by Fanny Lombard (FRA - Team VTT Lozère), closely followed by Martina Brühlmann (SUI - Fatwork).

Tahnée Seagrave (FRA - Intense/FOX Europe) created a small sensation with her finishing time. The U17 racer dominated the female competition, even managing to finish 1.6 seconds ahead of Siegenthaler.
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Fastest rider in the U17 male category was Gianluca Vernessa (ITA - Argentina Bike), beating Ferdinand Brunold (GER - SC Korb) and Simon Geisler (ITA - iXS Sports Division Yeti Team). Samuel Aklin (SUI- Bikegarage DH Team) was the winner in the Masters class, followed by Marcel Waldmann (SUI - Fatwork) and Javier Santiago (ARG - Uci Pine Moser Team).

The race in Monte Tamaro was the perfect kick-off to the iXS European Downhill Cup. A large number of spectators and fantastic weather provided the backdrop to a top class sporting event. The next race in the series is scheduled for 21/22 May in Todtnau/Germany. To view the detailed results visit ixsdownhillcup.com.
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© Photos: Thomas Dietze
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