This is it for 2019 SloEnduro series. Wrapped it up in Grožnjan, Croatia once again, with some epic battles in perfect conditions. We have the names of series champions to be crowned in November.
The 2019 Enduro Grozni in Grožnjan on the hills in the North-West of Croatia’s Istria peninsula consisted of Sunday’s five special stages. In the end, Slovenians Tina Perše (Calcit Bike Team) in women’s race and Nejc Huth (Energijateam.com) in men’s race proved to be the fastest of the day. 25-year old Tina also took the series title in her first enduro season after a career in cross-country while men’s title went to 19-year old Austrian National Champion Max Fejer (Team Dorrong) in his first elite year.
Trails built by BBK Grožnjan crew, flowing from the ridge East and West of the artistic medieval town of Grožnjan, are the ones the riders are looking forward to all season long, as well as the views all the way to the sea and pizza and coffee in town. After four races in Slovenia, Austria and Croatia (Kamplc Enduro in Ajdovščina, the Black Hole Enduro which doubled as EWS European Series event, Enduro Krvavec and Trnduro in Dražice) 140 riders from Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Italy and Slovenia rolled into town for the series final.
One of the duels of the year
After Saturday’s practice, it was time for the last race from 10am on Sunday. 35km of riding with (at least) 1250m of climbing and descending. With reversed starting order, the main battle of the day and one of the best battles of the season, similar to Fejer vs. Peršak at Trnduro, went on at the end of the start list among start numbers 11 and 1. Huth (#11) took off fast by winning special stage 1, the classic Get from Sv. Juraj, and SS2, the Kalčini stage, starting close to the namesake settlement. Fejer (#1) followed in second and was 2,1 of a second behind after SS2. Another Austrian Peter Mihalkovits (Radwelt MK Factory Racing) won SS3, the fast and flowing Šaltarija stage. Huth was second and Fejer third but lost over 5 seconds to Huth. Then Fejer went on to win both SS4, the Kenda SuperStage on party new EnĐuro trail, and SS5, the Sv. Juraj. Huth followed in second on both and stayed in first place by only 2,3 of a second!
29-year old Huth has been among top Slovenian enduro racers for years now, even finished second overall in last year’s SloEnduro series, but this is his first SloEnduro “big league” victory. “After a season gone wrong I had two great races at the end, the Trophy of Nations and Grozni. Things had to go in a better direction at some point,” explains Nejc. “I’m really happy for my first SloEnduro win. Last year I said to myself that I could not improve my times here in Grožnjan but I was much faster again this year. I was really tired on the last stage, especially since I walked to the top with a flat tire after SS3. Finally, I managed to keep a small advantage.”
Fejer was happy with second this time and of course with his first SloEnduro overall title: “The race was really fun! I love the fast and loose tracks of Grožnjan. I didn’t quite find my groove on the first few stages but really pinned it on the last two. I’m happy to walk away with second and I’m over the moon about taking the overall win! The SloEnduro events are always super fun and I am already excited for next year!”
The four-time SloEnduro champion and winner of first two 2019 races Vid Peršak (Orbea Enduro Team) missed Krvavec for EWS races, then lost the duel with Fejer with a mechanical at Trnduro. He was in second place, 250 points down on Fejer before the final and after finishing the EWS season, the Trophy of Nations and finally winning the Trans-Nomad four day race he decided he was not in shape for SloEnduro final. He kept his second place though while Mihalkovits moved to third overall by finishing third at Grozni and passing co-national Max Trafella (Do-Biker Bruck/Mur), another no-show.
Fastest five overall at 2019 Enduro Grozni, from left: Liović, Fejer, Huth, Mihalkovits and Istenič
Title for Tina
University, work, long season… Too bad but women’s leader and defending champion Yana Dobnig (Team Dorrong) also didn’t make it to the final event. After winning first two rounds and finishing second to Tina Perše at Krvavec she missed both Croatian rounds and finally had to settle for second overall. Black Hole Enduro was first SloEnduro race for Tina Perše and in the end, she took the title. Tina won all the special stages of the day, including the Kenda SuperStage, and won with a gap of more than two minutes over second placed Tamara Homar (Energijateam.com) and third placed Teja Cerar, both Slovenian.
“I expected a battle for the overall but in the end, I won the title without one,” said Tina. “Too bad because I’m sure it would have been intense. Still, it was an interesting race, I had some duels with the guys. I’m happy with the season, switching to enduro turned out to be a good decision. I might enter more international races next year, let’s wait and see…”
Fejer and Perše, Kenda SuperStage winners and series champions
Let’s start with two riders who made it to overall top five podium at Enduro Grozni. Slovenian Matjaž Istenič, a former elite category rider, returned to “big league” Hobi category after some 4Fun racing, and finished fourth. Former Croatian enduro and downhill champion Frano Liović (BK Opušteno) finished in fifth overall. Of course, they won in their respective categories while the titles went to Austrian Daniel Apreutesei (Radlager Mountainbikeverein) in Hobi and Peter Pingitzer (Rdnk Racing) in Master 1.
Austrian Cri Maierhofer (Team Dorrong) was the fastest Master 2 rider in 9th overall while the overall title in this category goes to Slovenian Grega Nagode (Energijateam.com) who finished 4th, just one spot in front of his rival Walter Ziedler from Austria.
Slovenian Jakob Smolnikar (Energijateam.com) in 12th was the fastest junior man of the day, another Slovenian rider Aljaž Černigoj (Kamplc Racing Team) won the series title.
Slovenian Martin Brus (Kamplc Racing Team) sealed his title before the final and confirmed it with another category win.
There is now SloEnduro title for the under 15 category, but it was once again added to the field. Italian Lorenzo Pagliari Consolati (ASD 360 MTB) was the fastest in the 3-stage race in front of Slovenian Kevin Klančič (KK Črn trn) and teammate Daniel Martini.
Team ranking as well as special titles and awards will be announced at “SloEnduro Gala” presentation and party in November. Date and location to be announced.
Photos by Aljaž Petkovšek, Nejc Huth in cover photo