Three special stages in MTB trail center Kočevje in Slovenia were not an enduro racing premiere on their well designed and maintained trails, it’s only that the third edition of Enduro Kočevje was the first one under the SloEnduro 4Fun roof.
The one before last event of the series of simpler (and fun) one day races in 2019 started with Friday night party and concert of local ska band Kočevska Orkestra. Great entertainment even if we would be lying to say that riders were a majority in the crowd. But if SloEnduro decided to hand out a prize for best party of the season then Kočevje organizers would be favourites.
Come Saturday morning there was enough time to get to know the three special stages: Spet doma/Home again as SS1, the flowing Veronika into technical Squamish as SS2 and top of Veronika into a fresh cut forest section into wood bermed Ris as SS3. Under 15 category riders did the first one, then moved to shorter Ris as SS2 as last one of their race.
About 80 riders from 4 countries started the race at 11am. Each of the stages was planned to be open for 90 minutes which meant relaxed 2 runs for each rider with the faster one counted into final result. But after a break due to an injury there was only time for one run on SS2.
Returning from injury, Marko Fink (Pank kura) got back on top, doing each special stage just once and saving power. He was fastest in each of the three and won the race with a total of 6 minutes, 12 seconds and 40 hundred of a second. After a long forced break from riding he favoured the shorter stages from the longer ones at Krvavec or from lots of climbing at Trnduro where he already tried his luck after returning to racing.
Local junior rider Matej Južnič (KD Melamin) surprised with second place, 6.7 behind the winner. Žan Kuder (MTB Trbovlje) finished third, 7.86 behind Fink.
Tina Perše (Calcit Bike Team) was the fastest woman of the day in front of Teja Cerar and Austrian Gerlinde Hollaus.
Fink won the 30-34 age class, Južnič the U19 and Kuder the 25-29. Matjaž Istenič, the fourth placed overall, won the 19-24, Nejc Kalan (MTB klub Kranj, 11the overall) the 35-39, Grega Nagode (Energijateam.com, 15th overall) the 40-44, Italian Enrico Cantoni the 45-49, Martin Brus (Kamplc Racing Team) the 50+ and Vanja Ražem (Cycling Team Friuli) the U17 category.
Marko Gumzej won the shorter U15 race from Lenart Dejak (Energijateam.com) and Bor Makuc (Pedal Racing Team).
There was a smell of surprise in the air, provided by former Slovenian alpine ski team member Rok Perko in his first ever bike race. Rok finished 8th on SS1 and 7th on SS3 but blew it in SS2 where he did not get another try. But great job Rok, what’s some speeding on two wheels to a downhill ski racer and stuntman!?
The weekend continued on Sunday with the opening of new trail In Dragon’s Nest from the top of the hill. So maybe Enduro Kočevje will have a longer stage in 2020? It should take about 7 to 8 minutes from top to bottom.
This weekend, on Sunday September 22nd, it’s time for the last SloEnduro 4Fun event of the season – the Golovec trails Ljubljana race! Registration by Thursday. Find out more about Golovec trails Ljubljana and register here
Photos by Peter Novak @pero_frontero