Posted by Editor on 06/6/09
Fort William World Cup 4-Cross Report
Round four of the Nissan UCI World Cup for 4-cross in Fort William, Scotland saw some familar faces back on the top of the podium, as Jill Kintner (Red Bull-Oakley) and Jared Graves (Yeti Fox Shox) won before large crowds on the slopes of Ben Nevis. The rain of the night before had also let up, with the sun even peeking out at times.
Both the men and women saw top favourites exit early, as the redesigned track gave few options for passing. In the women's competition, World Cup leader Anneke Beerten (Suspension Center) went out in the semi-final round, missing the Final for the first time this season, after entering the first turn in third place. Beerten won the consolation race, taking the fifth and final spot on the podium, but it wasn't enough to save her World Cup jersey, as Kintner grabbed it with her second win of the season.
"I really wanted to win here," commented Kintner. "For me, this is a special course, because I won the world title here [in 2007].
Kintner, Caroline Buchanan (Australia), round three winner Fionn Griffiths (Norco World Team) and world champion Melissa Buhl (KHS) made to the final four, with Kintner easily taking the gate and cruising to the win ahead of Buchanan and Griffiths. The win gives Kintner 270 points to Beerten's 255, with Griffiths the only other rider to crack 200 points at 225.
"I just didn't have enough power in the first straightaway," shrugged Beerten. "I prefer it when the tracks are way steeper and more technical. It's too bad to lose the jersey, but there is still have a season to go, so it isn't over."
After a third in the previous round of the World Cup broke his winning streak, Graves made it clear that it wasn't going to happen again here in Fort William, where he is the defending champion. The Australian won all of his heats leading up to the final convincingly, and left nothing to chance in the final, leading out of the first straight and easily holding off Romain Saladini (Team Sunn) in the final.
"Graves is still too strong for me," admitted Saladini, "especially in the first straight, but I'm just happy to finally make the finals for the first time this season."
Graves had qualified third, behind round three winner Joost Wichman (Netherlands) and Roger Rinderknecht (GT Bicycles), however, Wichman was knocked out in the quarter finals, and Rinderknecht in the semi finals, leaving Graves the only one of the top eight qualifiers to make it to the medal round. Wichman was boxed out in his heat, while Dan Atherton (Animal-Commencal), back from a broken scapula, came out of the first turn in third after a bad gate.
Lukas Mechura (Chain Reaction/Intense) and Jurg Meijer (Netherlands) were the other riders to make the final, finishing third and fourth respectively, while former world champion Michale Prokop (Czech Republic) took the fifth podium spot after winning the consolation race.
"I'm really, really happy to win here, to be back at the top after losing out in Vallnord [round three]," commented Graves. "For me, Fort William is the best World Cup of the series, and to win here for the second year in a row is pretty special."
Graves now holds a commanding lead in the series standings, with 450 points to second placed Saladini's 240, who is just five points ahead of Rinderknecht.
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