June 22/08 11:49 am - MTB World Championships: 4X report
Posted by Editoress on 06/22/08
MTB World Championships Val di Sole, Italy
Coverage brought to you with the assistance of Velirium
Only a couple of hours after the Downhill finished it was time for the second gravity event of the weekend. This turned in some very unexpected results, with many of the top favourites crashing out or making mistakes. Spain's Rafael Alvarez de Lara Lu took the men's title, while Melissa Buhl salvaged American hopes with a win in the women's competition.
The course made for some of the most exciting racing at recent world championships. Usually, the race for first is decided within the first two corners, however, this year spectators saw passing as late as the final corner.
The women's race progressed as expected, with all four top seeds advancing to the final. World Cup leader Anneke Beerten (Netherlands) was the clear favourite, with only Jana Horakova (Czech Republic) expected to offer competition, and the final heat began that way.
Beerten shot into the lead, followed by Horakova, with Buhl a distant third and Romana Labounkova (Czech Republic) fourth. Going into the second last corner Beerten went wide and Horakova slid through on the inside. The Dutch rider went down, the Czech had to come to an almost complete stop, and Buhl squeezed through an open slot to suddenly find herself with an unbeatable lead. Horakova managed to keep going for silver, followed by Labounkova.
The men's final saw only one of the favourites present - Jared Graves (Australia), who has been blazing fast ever since his return from BMX Olympic qualifying. Defending champion Brian Lopes (USA) went out after the semifinals, caught in traffic and unable to pass. Cedric Gracia (France) suffered a similar problem in the quarterfinals, while World Cup leader Guido Tschugg (Germany) crashed in his quarterfinal.
Joining Graves in the final were Alvarez, Roger Rinderknecht (Switzerland)and Mickael Deldycke (France). Alvarez was a virtual unknown until is surprise win at the first round of the World Cup in Maribor (Slovenia) earlier this year. The Spaniard was having a good day, as witnessed by his fast starts in each heat.
This served him very well in the final, when he jumped into the lead before the first corner. Behind, Graves, Deldycke and Rinderknecht all tangled and went down, leaving the Spaniard to literally cruise down the track to the world title. Rinderknecht was the first to untangle himself and getting going for silver, followed by Deldycke.