The last season of SloEnduro, international competition in mountain cycling discipline endure, ended exactly where last weekend the new 2017 season began. In Grožnjan in Istria, where the local cycling club BKK Grožnjan organises the Enduro Grozni. The race attracted a record number of 168 cyclists from nine countries.
After a short evening prologue on the street on Saturday and five stages on Sunday, on around 40 kilometres of circular track with 1.350 metres of ascents and descents, the same names ended up on top as in October last year: Austrian Petra Bernhard and Slovenian Vid Peršak, this year’s teammates in the new Austrian Team Dorrong. Petra, who only started out in the endure last year after a DH career, repeated her success from last year. Vid, also the total winner of the series in the last two years, was best in Grožnjan three years in a row.
Both were the fastest also in the first stage St. Juraj, with points for the special ranking Kendo SuperEtapa. The best Croatian drivers were Framo Liović and Veno Vrbanović in the Master 1 category in 27th and 28th place in total rankings, while Gorana Težak was best among women, 107th in total. Ivo Jarić was best in the men’s category, 44th in total and Alen Jurjević was the best placed Croat in the Master 2 category (53rd).
Petra overtook the second-placed Gorana Težak from the Pula Adrenalina MTB Team, the Croatian marathon champion, with Italian Giulia Albanese in third place (UC Caprivesi).
Peršak’s toughest opponent was a candidate for last year’s total victory, Austrian Gerd Skant, also Team Dorrong member. Gerd lagged behind 23 seconds, so we can say Peršak won convincingly. Third was another Austrian Manuel Gerber (URC Bikestore.cc) who was in downhill World Cup last year, and now, after performing for strong teams, has decided to compete by his own choosing. Enduro is obviously good for him, although this was only his third race after the Garda festival and last year’s Austrian DP in Leogang. He was 32.5 seconds behind the winner.
Gruber pushed ahead by three seconds in the last stage over Matjaž Istenič (Energijatema.com) in the fight for the throne, while Matjaž, with his first performance in the Elite category and last year’s win as junior, was not even aware of the danger behind him. Literally, as Gruber had the start number 153 and began his stages almost an hour after Istenič. Among the ten fastest were Istenič’s team colleague Nejc Huth in fifth and Andrej Bratina (Kamplc Racing Team) in eighth place. Ana Zupan (Energijateam.com) in fourth place among women ended a one year Slovenian absence from that category.
“I did not take many risks, riding all stages equally good,” said Peršak. “The routes were top notch and did not seem dangerous. This is a good start of the season for me, my team is also satisfied,” he added and said he will focus on studying until the next race in Trieste at the end of the month.
“Everything went by fast and in the first stage I was still nervous, it is the first race of the season,” said Petra Bernhard. “I made several mistakes, however I managed to keep a constant rhythm. This year I will participate in all race of SloEnduro,” said the candidate for total win. Last year’s total winner, Petra’s national Yana Dobnig, missed the race due to a prom dance.
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