Opening round of this year’s series doubles as National Championships. On updated track with new organizing team, probably in wet and without defending champion.
The 2018 Unior Downhill Cup opens this weekend in Bike park Javornik in Lome, Slovenia. This race doubles as this year’s Slovenian National Championships. The 2018 series unites three events: second one follows in the end of July in Cerkno and the final one mid-September in Maribor. All three are also included in Croatian national series while the Cerkno and Maribor round are also UCI Class 2 events.
Javornik returns to calendar after a two-year break. The park hosted National Championships in 2015. It was closed during the 2017 season and is now re-opened by DEŠ Fleš crew, also the event organizers.
The event starts with Saturday morning’s track walk at 8am, training will take place from 10am to 6pm and continue Sunday morning from 9 to 11. The semi-final run starts at noon and final at 2.30pm.
The track, the park
The track at Javornik is a mix of old track and new sections. It is about 2,5km long with elevation drop of 375m and race time around three minutes. »I think it will be one of the fastest tracks here« says organization chief Rok Stegovec. »We set the course tape wide and left as many lines as possible«
It is very likely that wet conditions will keep the speeds down though. Anyone who rode those trails in wet remembers the combination of clay and slick rocks.
On Saturday, the park will also open for guests with a new trail in top part and three more demanding options in the bottom: the Skala, Goriška and Huda. Promotional ticket prices, freshly shaped trails, the race, barbecue… Lots of reasons to come.
The chairlift will also be open for hikers, spectators and team support for 2 € per ride.
Jure Žabjek (Unior/Devinci Factory Racing) who won the men’s elite title for last three years will not competing this weekend due after smashing his pinkie open on a rock last week. He should be ready for round two in Cerkno as well as for July’s World Cup rounds in Italy and Andorra. There are now three main favourites: the 36-year old Miran Vauh (Blackthorn) who started his season with an 8th place in iXS EDC race in Maribor and a 34th in World Cup at Lošinj; the 21-year old Luka Berginc (Blackthorn) who won the small final in Maribor and was close to final at Lošinj; and 24-year old Jan Cimperman (MTB Trbovlje) who failed to show his real speed at both events.
The European Champion Monika Hrastnik (Blackthorn) is the clear favourite in women’s field – in photo.
National Championships history
This will be the 27th edition of Slovenian downhill championships, it has been held every year since 1992 at a total of 14 different venues. Javornik will host it for fourth time after 2005, 2012 and 2015.
In Žabjek’s absence Vauh (2009, 2011, 2014) is the only one who can this weekend match the most successful of all times, Janez Grašič who holds four titles (1996, 1998-2000). Hrastnik (2015, 2017) will be going for her third title which would put her next to Tanja Jerman (2001-2003). Zarja Černilogar has five (2011-2014, 2016) and Rebeka Barlič six (2004-2007, 2009-2010).