Posted by Editoress on 08/1/10
Beerton World Cup extends leade, Graves loses race, seals overall
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Anneke Beerten (Suspension Center) took her second straight win of the season, while Jared Graves (Yeti Fox Shox) locked up the men's overall title despite finishing fourth behind Swiss champion Roger Rinderknecht, at round five of the 4-Cross World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy.
A large crowd came out in the warm evening sun of the Italian Dolomite Mountains to cheer on the eight women and 64 men who had made it through qualifying to contest the heats competition. The track was virtually unchanged from the world championships in 2008, with most contests decided within the first two corners.
Beerten was clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the women's field. Unlike the rest of the riders, she was clearing the same big jumps as the men on the lower half of the course, and easily took the final. Austrian Anita Molcik, her rival for the overall title, did not have the same ability on the more technical aspects of the course, but used her very fast start to win her semi-final and then take second to Beerten in the final. Katy Curd of great Britain took third and Joanna Petterson of South Africa fourth.
"I really like this course," agreed Beerten. "Even at the beginning of the week when I first rode it, I felt comfortable here. I knew that it was important to be able to do all the jumps, so I have been practicing on them, and it really made a difference."
Beerten now leads Molcik by 45 points in the standings, with one race remaining, so this competition is not over.
In the men's event, Rinderknecht had the rare distinction of beating Graves for the number one seed in qualifying. Both riders advanced steadily to the final by winning all of their heats, and were joined by Tomas Slavik (RSP 4 Cross) and Michal Prokop (Agang Racing) in the men's final.
Out of the gate, through the first corner and the small jumps of the second straight Graves had a clear lead on Rinderknecht, but coming out of the second corner, the World Cup leader and world champion had suddenly dropped to fourth.
Video showed afterwards that Rinderknecht and Graves had clashed in the corner, with the Swiss rider on the inside coming up on Graves and sticking his elbow right up into the Australian's throat. Just the rough and tumble of 4-Cross or a foul? Officials did not sanction it, and Graves didn't protest, so Rinderknecht took the win, ahead of Slavik and Prokop, with Graves rolling in fourth.
Graves was nonetheless angry with the move by Rinderknecht. "He stepped over the line, I think. It's all part of racing, but that was pretty dodgey."
With Slavik - Graves' only potential rival for the overall title - finishing second, Graves now has 535 points to Slavik's 400 and, with 125 points for a win, it means that the Australian has won the men's title with one race remaining.
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