It’s time to relive the action, the emotion – and the scorchio with the BBC2 Scotland Adventure Show Fort William World Cup special.
Put the date in your diary (or set the recorder) and spread the word!
BBC2 Scotland, FreeSat channel 970, Sky Digital 102 at 18:40 on Sunday 31st July. Thereafter on the BBC iPlayer.
JBC Bikepark in Jablonec, Czech Republic was the host for round 3 of the 2016 4X ProTour. After 2 superb rounds already, it was time for the riders to take on the most challenging track on the 4X ProTour. Famed for the ‘Marosi Wall ride pass’; this track has it all. Gap jump from the start, huge jumps, wooded section full of roots and rocks, wall ride and technical jumps that really catch the riders out. It is the ultimate 4X challenge and the venue for what was an amazing night of 4X racing.
The event was scheduled to start on Thursday with practice. Unfortunately torrential rain all day meant that this session was cancelled and moved to an extended session on Friday. The track guys worked tirelessly throughout the night to get the track ready for practice on Friday and qualifying. On Thursday there was the opening ceremony in the centre of Jablonec town with the mayor giving out the number plates to the top ranked riders, along with interviews with them all in front of huge crowds. The atmosphere and expectation for the race was already bubbling with the locals, and it was great to see the whole city getting behind the event.
On Friday the practice session was extended to 3 hours to give the riders plenty of time to get to grips with this extremely challenging track. Throughout the session the track dried out and by the time qualifying rolled around the track was in great condition.
The women went first and it was 2015 4X ProTour champion Helene Fruhwirth set the fastest time ahead of Czech BMX star Romana Labounkova and British rider Natasha Bradley in 3rd. Next up it was the men. Running in reverse order to the UCI World rankings, the fastest riders qualified at the end. As each rider left the start, the times were getting quicker and quicker by the finish line. It was local hero and crowd favourite Tomas Slavik taking the fastest time ahead of Felix Beckeman and Hynek Strouha. The scene was set for an action packed race on Saturday night.
Saturday morning and thankfully the sun decided to make an appearance. The temperature was rising and the track was quickly drying. The final practice session started and the crowds were building. The crowds turned up in their thousands. At an estimate there were 10,000 passionate Czech 4X fans all with air horns, flags and whistles. There was a true party atmosphere and this was going to be a fantastic night of action. They we looking for hometown hero Tomas Slavik to take the victory, but would it be his night? First up, the top riders were introduced to the crowds. Fire, smoke and each rider’s choice of music introduced them to the huge crowds.
After the rider introductions, the first round of racing started at 18.00. In the first round there was a huge surprise with 3rd qualifier and former podium finisher Strouha went out after crashing on the lower section. Into the quarter finals and there were some huge shocks. Felix Beckeman, Simon Waldburger and Scott Beaumont all 3 who are fighting for the 2016 overall title went out.
By the semi finals it was getting really interesting. In the women’s Natasha Bradley crashed out of an intense race which left Romana Labounkova and Olga Romzaikina qualifying to the final. In the 2nd semi final it was Helene Fruhwirth and Michela Berakova qualifying through.
In the men’s it was the Slavik show in semi final 1 with Tomas and Hannes qualifying to the final. In the 2nd semi it was Quentin Derbier and Jan Svub making it through. Svub had been riding well all day and was stoked to make his way to the final.
So it was final time. In the women’s small final Mareike Bohm rode a flawless lap to take the final step on the podium with 5th overall. In the main final Labounkova got the holeshot but in turn 2 Fruhwirth made a great pass to take the lead. Romzaikina and Berakova had a great battle going on in 3rd and 4th but at the finish line it was Fruhwirth from Labounkova and Romzaikina.
So finally it was the men. In the small final it looked like course builder Jiri Penc was going to take the win but in an amazing pass in the final turn Dominik Kvapil crossed the finish line in 1st and took 5th overall for his day.
So the men’s final lined up. Tomas Slavik in 1, Hannes Slavik in 2, Jan Svub in 3 and Quentin Derbier in 4. The gate dropped and it was Tomas in the lead. The crowd were going crazy. In turn 1 Hannes crashed out and left Jan and Quentin fighting for 2nd. Into the big doubles and Jan made a mistake giving Derbier a clear run into 2nd place. From there the positions held and Tomas Slavik was able to win his race ahead of Derbier and Svub.
After huge podium celebrations, the Jagermeister guys took control and the after party began. With dj’s, bands and thousands of happy Czech fans, this race was the perfect showcase for 4X ProTour, the sport of 4X and all the riders.
Thanks to the World’s mtb media who supported this event, the live tv, the fans in Jablonec, the riders, the sponsors for this race and most of all Tomas Slavik and his crew for working tirelessly on this project and showcasing to the world that 4X is amazing.
The final round of 4X ProTour is on Saturday October 1st, at Roquebrune in France. The overall title is pretty much in Tomas Slavik’s hands now but the fight for 2nd is on with Derbier, Beckeman, Hannes Slavik and Beaumont all fighting. It’s going to come down to the wire and you won’t want to miss it.
For more information on the 4X ProTour, visit:
Organisers confirm dates for 2017 event after more than 22,000 fans gather in Scottish Highlands
A record number of fans attended the 15th year of downhill mountain bike racing in the Scottish Highlands in what is being described as the best ever Fort William Mountain Bike World Cup.
Organiser Rare Management has today revealed almost 22,000 fans attended the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup and BUFF® 4X Pro Tour, over the course of the weekend (June 3 – 5), making it the most well attended UCI World Cup in Scotland yet.
Taking place on the uncompromising slopes of Aonach Mor and the Nevis Range, riders and fans enjoyed glorious sunshine as part of a thrilling weekend of mountain bike action which saw Great Britain’s Rachel Atherton and South Africa’s Greg Minnaar storm to victory in the women’s and men’s finals.
As the only UK leg on the UCI World Cup circuit, 8,300 fans watched the BUFF® 4X Pro Tour and downhill qualifying on Saturday (June 4), which was up 23 per cent on last year’s weather affected opening day.
The record for a single day attendance was smashed on the Sunday (June 5), when 10,800 fans crammed into the Nevis Range finish arena, with an atmosphere to match any sporting event, anywhere in the world.
Following the event’s success, the UCI has confirmed that the Mountain Bike World Cup will return to the Scottish Highlands in 2017 on 3 – 4 June.
Event organiser, Mike Jardine, from Rare Management, said: “This year’s Fort William Mountain Bike World Cup has surpassed all of our expectations thanks to the biggest ever crowds, emotional farewells, stunning gravity action and of course the glorious weather.
“The event is a huge celebration of a sport that continues to grow in popularity thanks to the success of home grown riders such as Rachel Atherton who won her third Fort William World Cup title at the event. We’re thrilled by the number of fans from around the world who came out to support all of the elite riders and make 2016 the best we’ve ever experienced in 15 years.”
More than a quarter of a million fans have descended on Fort William since the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup came to the Highlands 14 years ago, delivering a £33m boost to the Highland economy since 2002.
Peter MacFarlane, managing director at the Nevis Range, said: “We were delighted to welcome so many mountain bike fans to the Nevis Range. Not only did we see record numbers of spectators over the weekend, but we also had a record number of enthusiasts stay on beyond the weekend to test their skills on the downhill track when it reopened to the public.
“The event has a massive economic impact on the Lochaber area – the hotels are filled to capacity over the weekend and all the local pubs and restaurants are packed each night. It is one of the busiest weekends of the summer for Fort William.”
The multi-award winning event, which is supported by EventScotland and Highland Council, was the third stage on the UCI World Cup Downhill calendar and this year marked the last competitive appearance of former Downhill World Champion and mountain bike legend, Steve Peat.
Stuart Turner, Head of EventScotland, said: “The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup has been a tremendous success once again for both Fort William and Scotland, attracting impressive crowds eager to catch a glimpse of the world’s best downhill riders. For spectators, the World Cup is second to none in terms of action and excitement, proving why Scotland truly is the perfect stage for major sporting events.”
Leader of The Highland Council’s Lochaber Committee, Councillor Thomas MacLennan, said: “As well as being a top sporting event, it’s been a great weekend away for anyone wanting to get close to the action and soak up some of the thrill and buzz of the sport in a spectacular location and I’d like to thank the community for making everyone feel so welcome. A bonus this year was the weather which was hot and sunny and really capped a successful weekend.
“Fort William has developed an international reputation as the spiritual home of the sport, offering some of the best and most gruelling courses in the world. We have been delighted to work with the organisers to make sure the Highlands benefits from the increased number of visitors during the event, as well as showcasing our spectacular scenery to people across the world through the global media coverage the event attracts. The economic benefits are well recognised and have firmly placed the Highlands and Scotland on the world map for mountain biking and the organisers should be congratulated for once again delivering a top world-class event. We look forward to welcoming back competitors, their supporters and spectators.”
To watch all of the highlights from the UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup at Fort William 2016, go to redbull.tv or for more information visit www.fortwilliamworldcup.co.uk.
Photos: Charné Hawkes