The colourful spectacle of the annual Red Bull Valparaíso Cerro Abajo urban downhill race took place in all its glory on Sunday, February 12, as Tomáš Slavík picked up his third win in the 19th edition of the famed race around Chile’s steeply-streeted port city.
Red Bull Valparaíso Cerro Abajo is a true urban downhill challenge as riders rattle over a rooftop and ride through an actual house, navigate down narrow staircases, take on difficult drops, and navigate man-made obstacles down the narrow residential streets of the UNESCO city.
Every edition that takes place sees subtle changes to the course in order to present the riders with some different challenges. In this 2023 edition, the placing of a boarded wallride and the approach into and out of it had caused the athletes to think about things during practice.
The race also forms part of the new Red Bull Cerro Abajo urban downhill series that includes Red Bull Medellin Cerro Abajo and Red Bull Guanajuato Cerro Abajo in Columbia and Mexico respectively.
Qualifying had whittled down 26 riders to a 16-man final, two-time Red Bull Valparaiso Cerro Abajo winner and home favourite Pedro Ferreira not competing after suffering wrist injuries in a practice crash.
Notable riders that qualified for Sunday’s final included Chilean enduro mountain bike specialist Pedro Burns, Red Bull Monserrate Cerro Abajo 2022 winner Camilo Sánchez, regular British UCI World Cup racer Phil Atwill and Frenchman Adrien Loren, a previous Cerro Abajo winner.
Czech rider Slavík powered to the race win in 2m 16.815s which was just under 1.5s faster than Columbian Juanfer Vélez, who had gone last down the course during finals as the fastest qualifier with Brazilian national downhill champion Lucas Borba rounding out the podium on the day.
Slavík’s winning run was remarkable given that he suffered an ankle ligament injury on his right leg from a practice crash before qualifying where he dug deep to finish with the third fastest time.
The 35-year-old revealed: “I’m super stoked. Breaking the ligaments in my ankle, I thought this chance of taking a third win, it’s just like, gone and I was already thinking about next year here. Whenever the journey is hard, then then the victory tastes better. So today tastes real good.”
Both Velez and Borba were up on the Czech’s time at the top of the course, nevertheless mistakes in the middle of the course saw them ultimately lose momentum and speed to leave Slavík on top.
The Czech, second last year, won previously in 2017 and 2018. Slavík also leads the 2023 Red Bull Cerro Abajo series overall going into the next race at Red Bull Medellin Cerro Abajo on March 4.
2023 Red Bull Valparaíso Cerro Abajo selected results
1. Tomáš Slavík Czech Republic 2m16.815s
2. Juanfer Vélez Columbia 2m18.300s
3. Lucas Borba Brazil 2m18.3872
4. Camilo Sánchez Columbia 2m19.920s
5. Felipe Agurto Chile 2m20.135s
11. Pedro Burns Chile 2m24.158s
Watch the 2023 Red Bull Valparaíso Cerro Abajo replay HERE.
Header image: Tomas Slavik competitors perform during Red Bull Valparaiso Cerro Abajo, Valparaiso, Chile on February 12, 2023. Credit: Luis Barra / Red Bull Content Pool