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Red Bull Race Down

Sondershausen, Germany, February 15, 2003


Lopes takes out mad underground downhill race

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Photo: © Red Bull
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Mountain bike four-cross World Champion Brian Lopes has won this year's edition of perhaps the most unusual mountain bike race on Earth. The Red Bull Race Down is mountain bike competition 700 meters below the surface in an old salt mine situated in the German town of Sondershausen.

On Saturday night, 16 of the world's best male downhill mountain bikers and eight women tackled the underground course. Like other downhill courses this one featured jumps, berms and wall rides on a one kilometer run, but these obstacles are part of the mine's network of more than 200km of tunnels. With top speeds up to 70 km/h the riders had to jump over diggers and lorries, taking care not to smash their heads on the only four to five meter high tunnel walls. 25 degrees Celsius, almost complete darkness and zero percent humidity created a truly diabolic atmosphere. "I have never been to a place like this before, not talking about racing my bike," said Brian Lopes.

Cedric Gracia on the berm
Photo: © Red Bull
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The invitational race with a total prize money of 10,000 Euro featured athletes from twelve nations. The competition format was held as a dual elimination system.

Among the remaining four men in the semi final were only top class mountain bikers: BMX World Champion Cedric Gracia of France, Four Cross World champion Brian Lopes, Downhill World Champion Gregg Minnaar of South Africa, and Briton Steve Peat, the 2002 World Cup champion. In the final run Lopes took the better start and finally the race against Gracia, whilst Minnaar captured the third place against Peat.

Anne-Caro at lightspeed
Photo: © Red Bull
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"I have claustrophobia, so I should not think about, where I am at the moment - among rocks four times higher then the Eiffel Tower in Paris," said second ranked Cedric Gracia after the race.

In the women`s competition "Miss Mountain bike" Anne-Caro Chausson of France battled down American Marla Streb. Swiss Marielle Saner took the third place.


Images by Red Bull/Flo Hagena


1 Brian Lopes (USA) 
2 Cedric Gracia (Fra) 
3 Greg Minnaar (RSA) 
4 Steve Peat (GBr) 
5 Michal Marosi (Svk) 
6 Bernard Guardia Pascual (Spa) 
7 Oscar Saiz (Spa) 
8 Andre Wagenknecht (Ger)
1 Anne-Caro Chausson (Fra) 
2 Marla Streb (USA) 
3 Marielle Saner (Swi) 
4 Fionna Griffiths (GBr)