Another excellent, action packed round of the 4X Pro Tour was held in Fort William last Saturday evening. Chris Roberts gives an overview of the racing:
“The dust has just settled from the finals here in Fort William at 4X ProTour round 4. As ever the racing simply did not disappoint and kept the huge crowd on its feet all night.
In the women’s race, current World Champion Anneke Beerten qualified the fastest and was looking awesome on the track all weekend. Current series points leader Katy Curd, had a tough qualifier, finishing 4th, giving away vital points towards her overall title chase.
The surprise came in the semi finals as Curd crashed in the first corner, trapping her foot between the floor and her bike and her shoe actually flew off into the crowd! A really tough break for her, but she went onto win the small final and salvage 5th overall for the night.
In the main final, Anneke Beerten took gate 1, Celine Gros was on 2, Melissa Buhl in 3 and British rider Suzanne Lacey in 4. The crowd were looking for a home win and the atmosphere was wild for Suzanne. As the gate dropped, it was World Champion Anneke who took the holeshot closely followed by Melissa. On the second straight the loose, rocky track took hold and Anneke’s rear tyre exploded.
Melissa swooped through, and took the lead. Anneke was holding on but the tyre came off the rim and Celine came past followed by Suzanne. Across the finish it was an awesome ride by Melissa to take the win and show the world that she is still a real force in women’s 4X racing. Celine was 2nd, Suzanne 3rd and Anneke limped across the finish in 4th. Really great racing from the women all night and heading into the final round Celine Gros is leading the points but it is really tight and 3 riders could still take the overall – with Anneke and Katy close behind.
In the men’s, the home crowd were going just as wild. Scott Beaumont and Issac Mundy made their way to the semi finals and were looking to book their place in the finals.
In semi final 1, Tomas Slavik, Michal Prokop, Quentin Derbier and Mundy were on the gate. As the beeps went and the guys snapped out of the gate, Slavik made a perfect start and led the race. Prokop in 2nd was under pressure from Derbier, but he held on to take 2nd and book his place in the final with Slavik.
In the 2nd semi final, Joost Wichman took 1, Patrik Bruckner was in 2, Beaumont in 3 and Jakub Riha was in 4. As the gate dropped, all 4 riders were level and in a clash of handlebars between Bruckner, Beaumont and Riha, Boom Boom found himself on the ground and out of the race. Wichman led the race with no problems, but the battle for 2nd was still going on in the rock garden as Bruckner and Riha came together again, this time, Riha went down which allowed the 2 Rose Vaujany riders to transfer to the final.
In the small final, Derbier made a great start and was followed by Beaumont. On the final straight, Boom Boom lined him up and charged for the finish line. In a photo finish, Derbier got the win to give him 5th overall on the night followed by Beaumont, Riha and Mundy.
So finally it was the men’s main final. Slavik was on gate 1, Joost took 2, Prokop on 3 and Bruckner was in 4. Slavik got the snap and looked like he was leading, but over the technical first straight, Prokop showed why he is the current World Champion as he got an amazing drive and took the lead into turn 1. Slavik was close and after the big double he dived inside to try and take the lead. Unfortunately he hit a flag and in one of the most sportsman like gestures ever seen at a gravity Mountain Bike race, Slavik pulled of the track with his hands up and allowed the other riders to go past him before the finish. Joost and team mate Patrik were battling for 2nd now and it was great to see Patrik finish in a career best 2nd ahead of team manager Wichman with Slavik in 4th.
This result gives Slavik the 2012 overall 4X ProTour title. He has ridden absolutely fantastic all year and thoroughly deserves the crown of ProTour Champion.”
There is no rest for the ProTour as all the riders are now packing their bikes and heading to Germany for the final round next week at Willingen. In the women’s, it is all still to play for and in the men’s, the final podium positions are still to be settled.