Urban Downhill racing entered a new era one year ago when the test event for the proposed World Tour went down in Slovakia with Marcelo Gutierrez taking victory over ‘Sik’ Mick Hannah.
The success of the event paved the way for the City Downhill World Tour to begin in 2014 with legendary stops in Santos, Brazil and Valpariso, Chile joining up.
With those races done and dusted all eyes now turn to where it all began. Who will take the title at the City Downhill in Bratislava on Saturday?
To find out, watch LIVE on Extreme.com from 5pm CET on Saturday 21st June. Click here for the live stream link.
Set in the heart of downtown Bratislava, like every track on the City Downhill World Tour, round 3 is not for the faint hearted.
It begins at the city’s most iconic point, Bratislava Castle, and winds its way down towards the Danube River. On the way there are numerous obstacles including a 4m drop, wall rides, stair gaps and a top speed zone where riders are expected to reach around 60km/h.
One of the biggest challenges for the riders will be not clipping their bars on the narrow streets lined with 17,000 spectators. At just a minute long it will be insanely fast, and even the tiniest mistake on this course could cost someone a place on the podium!
Born in Bratislava and having already claimed victory in Rounds 1 and 2, Filip Polc is surely the favourite to make it three wins out of three in Slovakia. Doing so would all but seal the overall City Downhill World Tour title for the 32-year-old. The Polcster has ridden all types of downhill during his career but settled on urban downhill as it grew in popularity and has become the most famous name in urban racing. He is also one of the brains behind the creation of the World Tour.
While Polc is the favourite, Marcelo Gutierrez is defending champion in Bratislava. At 24, the Columbian rider is a rising star on the UCI Downhill World Cup circuit but already a legend on the urban downhill scene. He has won a host of urban downhill races including events in Valparaiso and the original Bratislava City Downhill in 2013. He did not make the opening race of the tour this year but finished second in Chile and has consistently been in the top 20 during the World Cup season.
South African rider Neethling has been a consistent performer on the Downhill World Cup circuit for around ten years and has a couple of podiums to his name as well. He showed he his still a contender with eighth place in Leogang this weekend. The 30-year-old is also no stranger to the challenges of urban downhill having tried his luck in the narrow streets of Valparaiso, and suffered a nasty crash, back in 2010.
Victory in Bratislava this weekend would cap a fantastic week for Tomas Slavik. The Czech rider won gold at the 4X World Championships in Leogang last weekend and will be hoping to improve on last year’s showing in Slovakia. The 27-year-old rode a hard-tail to the top spot in qualifying in 2013 but could only finish fourth in the finals. He missed the opening race of the tour but a third-place finish in Chile means he isn’t out of the running yet.
See the bottom of this page for a full rider list....
It seems there is no stopping Filip Polc as he continues to dominate the urban downhill scene in 2014.
His fifth place at last year’s race in Bratislava was something of a surprise considering his knowledge of the course, and desire to perform in front of his home fans, but he will be going all out to win this year.
Marcelo Gutierrez looks most likely to prevent Polc from pleasing the home fans, as he looks to take over the reigns as urban downhill’s leading light, and no one will be in better mood ahead of the race than Tomas Slavik after his World Championship gold.
Whatever the result the real celebration on Saturday will be for the return of the City Downhill World Tour to its home in Slovakia as the successful inaugural season rolls on!
Full rider list
Filip Polc - SVK Marcelo Gutierrez - COL Johannes Fischbach - GER Andrew Neethling - JAR Tomas Slavik - CZE Eliot Jackson - USA Bernard Kerr - GBR Matt Walker - NZL Junya Nagata - JPN Nikola Solomun - BAH Kamer Kolar - BAH Mario Jarrin - ECU Martin Knapec - SVK Matej Vitko - SVK Hannes Slavik - AUT Alberto Zamperetti - ITA Lordanis Karamichailidis - GRE Sion Gwynn - GBR Reece Potter - NZL Daniel Mikel - CZE Bence Fekete - HUN Thomas Crimmins - AUS Raphael Kammlein-Cutler - NZL Tom Matthews - NZL Rupert Chapman - NZL Nick McConachie - NZL Edward Masters - NZL