Posted by Editoress on 05/15/10
Rain and mud ruled the day in Maribor, Slovenia, for round two of the 4-Cross Mountain Bike World Cup on Saturday. The foul conditions led to upsets in both the men's and women's races, with Michal Marosi (RSP 4 Cross) beating world champion Jared Graves (Yeti Fox Shox) in the men's race, and Fionn Griffiths (Norco World Team) taking the women's.
The incredibly sloppy conditions meant that riders were sliding and crashing in every round. A strong start at least kept a rider out of the battle behind, but was no guarantee that an error wouldn't take them out anyway. In the 16 rider women's field, defending World Cup champion Anneke Beerten (Suspension Centre) and world champion Caroline Buchanan (Commencal) each won their opening heats and then went 1-2 in the semi-final to make the final four. Griffiths finished second in each of her first two rides, but it was enough to move on to the final, along with Australian Sarsha Huntington. Missing from the final was World Cup leader Jana Horakova of the Czech Republic, who was defeated in the semi final by Buchana abd Beerton, and ended up sixth in the final standings. In the final, Griffiths and Buchanan bumped, with the world champion going down, and Beerten crashing into her. This gave Griffiths a clear run to the finish line.
"It could have gone either way," admitted Griffiths, "so I'm very happy to get this result. My gates are not great, as everyone knows, so i hung back a bit to see how things would work out. She [Buchanan] bobbled on a corner and bumped into me. I pushed back a bit, she went the other way and went down. Then I just pedalled as hard as I could."
Horakova continues to hold onto the World Cup lead, followed by Huntington, with Beerten in third.
The men's racing was just as messy, as riders crashed and slid their way down the course. Among the top riders going out in early rounds were Michal Prokop (Agang Racing), Roger Rinderknecht, Cedric Gracia, Mickael Deldycke and Dan Atherton (Commencal). However, Graves, defending Maribor champion Joost Wichman (RSP 4 Cross) and Tomas Slavik (RSP 4 Cross) all made it through to the final, putting Graves up against a trio of team mates.
Marosi seemed to use the same 'wait and see' tactic as Griffiths in his march to the win - he won only one heat prior to final, and barely qualified for racing, at 59th out of 64 starters. But it was enough, and he quickly took advantage of a crash by Slavik that caused Graves to hesitate, and moved to the front.. Once in front, Marosi just held on to take the win.
"That was crazy!," exclaimed the Czech rider. "It was a funny race; anyone could have been first. The course changed every time, so it was like poker, or maybe roulette. First place is so great, that who cares if [you are] wet and dirty!"
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