Cycling: Willingen in Sauerland was the venue for the fourth race of the Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series. Undeterred by the football events in Brazil, more than 320 starters found their way to the northernmost stop of the series and experienced a thoroughly successful race weekend.
Even the XS Power Ride prologue, which took place as usual on Saturday after the training, proved to be extremely entertaining: A classic meadow slalom marked out with flag gates awaited the riders directly at the Expo Area of the BIKE Festival - a welcome change from the more traditional Pedal-heavy prologue routes and a guarantee for spectacular drifts. In the end, the Focus Trail Team secured a double victory with Markus Reiser just ahead of Fabian Scholz. Third place went to the XC World Cup experienced Belgian Jeff Luyten (Two racing) - despite a crash in the upper part. Hats off! Among the women, Kerstin Koegler (BMC Enduro Racing Team) was the fastest, closely followed by Laura Brethauer (Cube Action Team) and Birgit Brauman (Trek Gravity Girls).
But a prologue is not a race and a best time here is far from a win. There was a fight for that on another five stages on Sunday. A varied mix of the best trails in the region awaited the riders. While stage 1 partly flowy on crushed sand, partly rough and steep followed the routes of the bike park, the second stage was all about one thing: brakes on and full throttle. With best times of a good four minutes, the third stage was the longest of the day. A longer, pedal-intensive section was followed by a technical section that ended in a tightly marked meadow slalom. Stage four again followed gravity exclusively, delighting – and challenging – the riders with a mix of loose, fresh forest soil and rockier sections. The last stage was fast again, a few open meadow curves led the drivers onto the slalom course of the prologue and finally to the finish - after a total of 27 kilometers and approx. 1000 meters in altitude.
While the recovered André Wagenknecht (Cube Action Team) celebrated a successful comeback with a second place ahead of Fabian Scholz (Focus Trail Team), first place in the Pro Men category went overseas: Joseph Nation from New Zealand was able to beat the competition, especially on the stages 1 and 1 precious seconds to secure victory with a total time of 3:12. Radon Flow Team pilot Petrik Brückner finished fourth, followed by Marco Widmer (Giant Swiss Team).
The fastest lady needed 14:35.43 for all stages: Along with best times on stages 1 and 4, the day's victory in the Pro Women also went to Raphaela Richter (Radon Factory Enduro). Kerstin Koegler (BMC Enduro Racing Team) and Birgit Braumann (Trek Gravity Girls) lined up behind her.
Daniel von Kossak (Propain Factory Racing Team) continued his winning streak in the Amateur Men class – his top time of 12:15:85 would have been enough for fourth place in the Pro category as well. The second fastest amateur was Hannes Brändlein ahead of Kurt Exenberger (Bikeacademy.com). The fastest amateur lady was Jana Goetze (Last National Team) ahead of Anja Düthmann and Christine Vöhringer.
The fastest master driver was André Kleindienst (Bergamont Hayes Factory), followed by Remo Heutschi (gravityunion.ch) and Guido Wachter.
The next stop of the Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series will take place in two weeks in Kirchberg, Austria, where new challenges await the participants.