Xross Challenge 2019 – Day 1: Dusty, but clean sweep for Wade Young


“If it is sunny, it is funny” – those are the words of the rider Teodor Kabakchiev, and with those words, we are going to describe the first day of the sixth edition of the toughest hard enduro race in the Balkan. Riders had an easy race day and 50 km of tracks in front of them, after which there was Akrapovič Super test – a spectacular ride of 32 best riders from the race – that left the audience in awe. The fastest rider on the first day was Wade Young, followed by Matija Zec and Teodor Kabakchiev.

Contrary to previous years when Tara used to greet the riders with dark clouds and rain showers, this year mountain beauty has whished them welcome with sun and nice weather. And everyone loves it – the riders, the audience, especially the organizers. Around 130 riders from 13 countries started the first day of the race, divided into 3 categories of difficulty – Pro, Expert and Hobby.

Finally – nice weather at the Tara mountain / Photo: Vladimir Mladenović

The first challenge was the Classic Enduro race of around 50 km which had no tough obstacles, but there were several technically demanding parts. The race was especially interesting in PRO class when in one moment Matija Zec overtook Wade Young, but because of the problem with the break, he fell behind again. Wade Young literally fly over the track and manage to finish the race in 56:56, the second was Matija Zec and the third Teodor Kabakchiev.

The audience enjoyed Akrapovič Super test / Photo: Bogdan Kosanović

The 32 riders with the best time from PRO and EXPERT category (16 each) were automatically qualified for the Akrapovič Super test – which was an absolute spectacle for the audience who gathered at Kaludjerske Bare. It was quite interesting watching the riders on their bike as they try to go over massive logs out of which some were high meter and a half. The polygon with logs has tested agility and the speed of the riders to the maximum. The final was really exciting and attractive since for the first time we had a 4×4 format, so 4 riders simultaneously were riding the polygon, fighting not only the obstacles but against each other as well. There was no mud and slipping like in previous years, but there was dust, a lot of it. In fact, we could say that Wade Young left his opponents in the dust.

The fastest guy – Wade Young/ Photo: Bogdan Kosanovic

It was good, I had a good day, no big problems, and forest race at Prologue this morning I had a safe ride and with not a big gap before the second rider, but I am happy with that. Enduro cross was very fun, I enjoyed a lot and happy to be first. If the race is not very very hard and if the conditions are, these guys are really quick in between the sections, so if it is not very hard they can compete with me, but when it gets hard and technical I have advantage but for sure, I won’t be surprised if I ride with them on some other day until the hard sections  – Young told us after the race.

Kabakchiev, super enduro champion from Bulgaria, didn’t hide the thrill.

I am very happy that the weather is nice. I mean, when it is sunny, it is funny. I am happy I am not wet for the rain, but I am wet because I rode hard. I am really happy with how the day went. The Prologue was exactly what I expected – short but technical track, and now the super enduro is just an addition to making this day perfect. I started good, so I will want to keep a good position until the end of the race – Kabakchiev said.

The tunnel that riders had to pass through/ Photo: Vladimir Mladenović

Matija Zec, vice-chamion from last year says he likes rain over dust a bit more.

This year is dry, there is dust, but it’s good, although I like more when it’s rain. The first part was great, a bit to fast for me so I had to look at the signs and on GPS a lot, and I don’t really like that. I even had a problem with my break, and I was first at that moment, but the rear brake stopped to work, so… It is not easy to compete against Wade, but sometimes those are just seconds that divide us, and the experience is playing a huge part, there are two more days of the race, we’ll see how it is going to be – Zec said.

It looks like it is going to be an interesting race until the end, and on the second-day riders have to tackle 90 km of hard enduro tracks with super tough sections.

Cloud of dust behind the riders of Xross Challenge 2019 / Photo: Vladimir Mladenović

Two days before Xross Challenge race some riders from Russia, Slovenia, Germany and Austria took Xross tours around Tara mountain. For the first time in Serbia, and on Xross Challenge race we have crew from Russia, and one of the members Ilya Malikov gave us his impressions:

“It was very important to try uphills to try and understand how to ride on the rocks in Serbia, that is why we took tours. But the main problem was that there were hobby class riders on the tour and we waited for them too much time. But the next day, hobby class riders waited for us, because we tried some PRO class uphills, it was very difficult and we tried 5 or 6 times and it took a lot of times. About Prologue – it was an easy race, it was only 42 km, not 50 but it is enough. Our Russian team had a problem on one part of the track, we didn’t believe that there was a tunnel in the mountain and we tried to find another way and lost 10 minutes. When I saw the tunnel I was happy, but I was angry because I couldn’t take the part in the final Akrapovič test, that was very pitty. Maybe it will help us to keep our energy for the next day because yesterday I spoke with Wade Young and he said that the PRO class at Xross Challenge is between Silver and Gold in Romaniacs. We competed in Silver in Romaniacs it was very difficult, but tomorrow we will compete at Xross and I hope we can finish. 

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