Posted by Editoress on 06/5/10
There were no surprises in round three of the 4-Cross Mountain Bike World Cup at Fort William, Scotland, with the leaders of the series extending their frontrunner status. Jared Graves (Yeti Fox Shox) and Jana Horakova (Duratec) each took their second victory of the year before a crowd of 8,000 spectators.
Fort Bill was uncharacteristically warm and dry, making the course dusty and loose, and causing numerous washouts in the corners. The organizers also replaced a rock garden halfway down the course with extra turns, after rider complaints that it was too narrow. Despite the conditions, the top three qualifiers in both the men's and women's fields made it through to the finals.
The women's defending World Cup champion, Anneke Beerten (Suspension Centre) qualified fastest, and easily made it to the final, along with Horakova, Anita Molcik (Yeti) and Czech rider Romana Labounkova. One rider missing from the final was Australian Sarsha Huntington - Huntington has been consistently among the top riders this season, but crashed hard in the small final for fifth place while leading, and had to be carried off the course on a backboard.
In the final, Horakova was first out of the gate, followed by Molcik, and these two held their positions to the finish. Beerten had a poor start, and struggled all the way down the course, finishing fourth and last behind Labounkova. Lucia Oetjen (Thoemus Racing) won the small final for the remaining podium spot.
"I'm very happy, I didn't expect this," commented Horakova. "I didn't have a very good gate, I thought, so I am surprised to win here."
Horakova also said that this will be her last World Cup until the final round in Windham, New York, as she switches to BMX for the upcoming world championships in South Africa. She now leads the series with 220 points to Molcik's 180, with Beerten a distant third at 130 points.
The first two rounds of the men's race had no surprises, with all the top seeds easily qualifying for the quarter finals. Graves had a slight scare in his eighth-final, when his foot slipped off a pedal, but the world champion was already in the lead, and quickly regained control.
In the quarter final Graves again had a scare, when he flatted late in the run, but managed to hold on for second, moving on to the semi final round. The first of the high seeds went out in this round, with Rinderknecht finishing third to Michal Prokop (Agang) and Tomas Slavik (RSP 4 Cross) in a race that could have quite easily been the final, while Guido Tschugg (Ghost ATG) and Dan Atherton (Commencal) both went out when they banged bars and Tschugg crashed.
Graves again shot to the front of his semi heat, while Prokop and Slavik tangled in the battle for the second slot/ Slavik got the worst of it, crashing out while Prokop moved on. In the other semi final, Joost Wichman (RSP 4 Cross) and Romain Saladini (Team Sunn Montgenevre) had an easy ride to the big final. Graves had another scare prior to the start of his semi, when he flatted in the truck on the way up to the start gate.
The final saw Graves once again shooting to the front out of the gate, closely followed by Prokop, who managed to squeeze in ahead of Wichman before the first corner. However, Wichman fought back, with an incredible inside pass on the third corner to take the second spot behind a disappearing Graves. Graves easily held on for the win, while Wichman managed to hold off Prokop for second. Czech rider Kamil Tartarkovic won the small final for fifth.
"The corners were getting bad," admitted Graves, "so I was pretty much worried the whole way down. I'm so happy to get the win; it was a sketchy start [to the final]. I was banging elbows with Joost, and I thought we might both go down. He certainly kept me honest today."
Graves now has a commanding lead over second place Wichman, with 350 points to 225. Slavik sits third at 150 points.
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