May 16, 2016
4X Protour: Race Report from Winterberg, Germany
4X ProTour 2016 – BMO Rumble – Winterberg,Germany
The opening round of the 2016 4X ProTour took place in Winterberg, Germany at the weekend. Held as part of the Dirt Masters Festival, this event attracts thousands of fans who flock to Winterberg to watch 4X ProTour, IXS Downhill Cup and the impressive Slopestyle event.
The race had nearly 200 riders entered so practice was busy and the track had a constant flow of riders as everyone got to grips with it. The weather was dry for qualifying making the track super fast and dusty. The sun was shining and the track was absolutely perfect.
In the women’s qualifying, it was an amazing ride from Natasha Bradley as she took the fastest qualifier ahead of Vanessa Kager and Michaela Berakova.
In men’s qualifying, there were 74 riders looking to qualify in the 64 places available. Every rider was looking for a perfect run but the rougher track this year was tricky and catching a few riders out. At the sharp end, it was Tomas Slavik from Czech Republic who had a perfect run to take the fastest time ahead of Quentin Derbier, with Hannes Slavik (no relation to Tomas) in 3rd. Just 2 seconds covered the top 10 riders making this an extremely tight qualifying session.
So onto race day. The sun from the previous 2 days unfortunately disappeared and was replaced with freezing temperatures, snow, sleet and rain. The conditions were extremely tough and made the racing challenging for everyone.
In the early rounds there were a couple of top riders who went out. German favourite Aiko Gohler unfortunately failed to make it past the first round of racing which would only place him in 44th for the day. The current 4X World Champion just didn’t look at home all weekend, however the early first round exit was a real surprise. Bondor Bogdan who qualified 8th also had a terrible first round and did not make it through.
It was the quarter finals though, where some real shocks came along. Klaus Beige, Tom Scherer and Marco Muff all qualified in the top 10 but all failed to make the semi finals.
In semi final 1, Quentin Derbier made life tough for himself starting in third but made his way through to 2nd at the finish line to qualify with Hannes Slavik who led from start to finish.
In semi final 2, Tomas Slavik got the holeshot and rode a comfortable lap with Felix Beckeman, Jonas Gauss and Scott Beaumont fighting for 2nd. Felix withheld the pressure and booked his place in he final.
So onto the finals and first up were the women. Marissa Roth won the small final to give her 5th place for the day and the final podium position. In the main final, fastest qualifier Natasha Bradley took gate 1, Vanessa Kager was in 2, Michela Berakova in 3 and Olga Romzaikina in 4. Bradley missed the gate and went into turn 1 in 2nd. Romzaikina was leading the race into turn 2 when Bradley made her move to take the lead. Romzaikina unfortunately went from 1st to 4th in one corner! Kager followed Bradley through into 2nd. The race stayed like this to the finish with Bradley taking the win, Kager 2nd and Berakova in 3rd.
The men’s finals stepped up to the start. Simon Waldburger rode fantastic all day and was duly rewarded with winning the small final to give him 5th overall for the day.
The last race of the day was the elite men’s final. Tomas Slavik took gate 1, Quentin Derbier on 2, Hannes Slavik on 3 Felix Beckeman on 4. It may surprise you all to know but it is extremely rare that the top 4 qualifiers all end up in the final! As the gate dropped, All 4 riders were level and something had to give. With a bump and bang, Felix Beckeman came out of the turn leading with Tomas in 2nd and Hannes in 3rd. Into turn 2 and Derbier dived inside of Hannes Slavik and Slavik crashed out of the race. Beckeman led the race until the esses where Tomas made his move and dived inside. It was absolutely flat out, tyres on the limit, full gas perfection. They were wheel to wheel and that was the way it stayed. Tomas Slavik took the win from Beckeman, Derbier and Hannes Slavik.
Tomas Slavik was clearly happy with the win:
‘I have had an awesome winter of training and it is paying off right now. After a year of illness in 2015 I’m stoked to be back and take the win here in Winterberg and leave here with the 4X ProTour points lead.’
Results – Women:
1. Natasha Bradley
2. Vanessa Kager
3. Michela Berakova
4. Olga Romzaikina
5. Marissa Roth
6. Mareike Bohm
7. Hannah Escott
8. Eva Katherina Brauer
Results – Men:
1. Tomas Slavik
2. Felix Beckeman
3. Quentin Derbier
4. Hannes Slavik
5. Simon Waldburger
6. Bocharov Krill
7. Scott Beaumont
8. Jonas Gauss
So that was it from Winterberg and round 1. Some great racing, huge crowds, a few fresh names and the top riders from 2015 again showing they are ready to make a challenge for the 2016 title.
The next round of 4X ProTour is in Fort William on June 4th. We will be reporting from practice, qualifying and the race itself but if you have ever fancied attending a 4X ProTour race and you are free that weekend we cannot recommend it enough. It is a real showcase of these riders and their talents on hardtail mountain bikes.