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The Swiss Championships in downhill took place last weekend, with Wiriehorn in the Diemtigtal as the host for the most thrilling race in the Swiss season.

After the rain belonged as a set fixture to almost every race weekend in the first half of the year, the conditions were perfect this time. With the track at the Wiriehorn widely known to the riders it was pretty clear that a perfect race weekend was on its way. The list of participants was already well filled before the race, and therefore more than 300 riders from 14 countries showed up for the second run of the iXS Swiss Downhill Cup. Amongst all Swiss licensed riders the Swiss Championships were first priority, and to honour this the finals for the national title were already held on Saturday evening in an extra run. Miriam Ruchti (SUI - SC-Intense) and Florent Payet (FRA - SC-Intense) posted the fastest times in the seeding run, with Lutz Weber (iXS Gravity Union) as the fastest Swiss rider. With some favourites already set for the following day it was dawning that Sunday could be a pretty successful day for SC-Intense.

The first one on the start was the U17 class, with the riders repeating the results of the seeding run as Mike Schär (Stöckli Bike Geroldswil) secured the fastest time, followed by Nicola Friedli (Friedli Bike Style) and Myles Weber (Team Project). In the juniors class, which followed next, Maxime Chapius (Hot Point Geneva CH) established himself as the new Swiss Junior Champ as we beat the fastest seeding run rider Noel Niederberger (Scott 11) to second place. Third on the podium was Jonas Bernet (EWZ Mountainbiketeam Loop). All of the three would have been in the Top 5 in the elite men, strong evidence that a new generation of Swiss riders is on its way. In the masters class there had already been a tough duel in the seeding run between local hero Thomas Ryser (Thömus Hot-Trail) and Christian Greub (Radbar Racing). In the end it was Greub who took the win over Ryser, with Andreas Steffen coming third in nine seconds behind the leaders.

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In the elite woman Miriam Ruchti had already made it obvious on Sunday that there is no way around her when it comes to the win. With almost 15 seconds between her and the next Swiss rider she secured the final starting place for the finals. Last year’s winner, Emilie Siegenthaler (Scott 11), couldn’t defend her title due to an injury. So everything happened as expected and Ruchti secured the title ahead of Martina Brühlmann (iXS Gravity Union) and Alba Wunderlin (Veloatelier Biel). More unexpected things happened in the Elite Mens class, as no one was really traded as favourite here. 5-time Swiss champion Nick Beer (Devinci) missed out as he is currently preparing in Canada for the World Championships in two weeks’ time. As one of the first candidates Claudio Caluori (Scott 11) crossed the finish line, and even if the Scott 11 team boss had the biggest lack of training, he managed to finish in a time faster than the fastest Swiss time in the seeding run. So he wasn’t far off being the sensation of the day. But even the next rider Ludovic May (Norco Factory Team) managed to beat the time by another 3 seconds. There were only five riders left to race, but Samuel Zbinden (Stöckli Bike), last year’s third, couldn’t beat the time. Gustav Wildhaber didn’t make it to the finish line, but soon afterwards it was Lars Peyer (SC-Intense) making the last metres down to the finish line. The clock stopped at a new fastest time of 4:03.314 for him, with a bit more than 1 sec ahead. Martin Frei (GT) crossed the finish line positioning himself after Caluori. Now only Lutz Weber was left, the fastest Swiss rider in the afternoon. Even as it looked close in the final jump, he was 2.5 seconds behind and managed to come third. Therefore the new Swiss Champion was crowned. Lars Peyer snaps a surprise victory in front of Ludovic May in second place, followed by Lutz Weber and Claudio Caluori.

But also the finals on Sunday were as dramatic as Saturday’s final, as there were important points up for grabs on this stop for the overall series.

In roasting-hot temperatures the Elite Men battled out an exciting final. Right at the beginning Felix Klee (SUI - Stöckli Bike Geroldswil) took to the 2800m long course. The junior secured the bet time and made himself comfortable on the Red Bull Hot Seat. All the others missed out on his time, until the next junior rider after about 100 starters beat the time. Noel Niederberger could take the lead with roughly the same time he did in the Swiss Championships by 3 seconds. His time was then beaten by Lutz Weber, but his lead didn’t last for long as well. Joshua Button (NZL - SC-Intense) finished in 4:03.490 min and burned the fastest time into the dusty ground. After him only his team mate Florent Payet had the potential to win the final, but had to be satisfied with rank three after Button and Weber.

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In the elite women it was Switzerland against New Zealand. Even though the numbers were balanced, the Kiwis had to admit defeat. Miriam Ruchti played well in her role as the fresh Swiss Champion and secured the fastest time in the finals, three times in a row. Junior Géraldine Fink (SUI - Velo Elsener Racing Team) came second and made it clear that she is the new hope for Switzerland in the years to come. New Zealand Champion Sarah Atkin (NZL - Team NZ) finished third.

The U17 was less exciting with the same results on the podium as on the previous day, Schär ahead of Friedli and Weber. In the masters category Thomas Ryser could fight back and secured the win ahead of Andreas Steffen and Marcel Waldmann (SUI - iXS Gravity Union). Christian Greub lost his bike on the way and finished with DNF (did not finish).

Altogether it was race weekend that will stick in people’s memory for a long time, especially for Team SC-Intense. And we can all but hope that Hot-Trail, as the longest standing race promoter in Switzerland, will continue its engagement promoting the sport and holding many races in the future at the Wiriehorn. Next weekend the series continues with the third run of the Swiss series in the French-speaking part of the country in Anzère. All further results and information can be found at ixsdownhillcup.com.

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