Saturday 14th April sees the very first 4X Pro Tour hit the small town of Houffalize, Belgium. After UCI removed the discipline of 4X from the World Cup Series, the future of the sport was uncertain, however the announcement of the 4X Pro Tour ensures that 4X Mountain Bike racing is kept on the World Stage.
Chris Roberts and Scott Beaumont have worked relentlessly over the winter months to create the five rounds, which are brewing much excitement. Talk of the 2012 4X Pro Tour has peaked over the last few weeks, with facebook interaction and frequent twitter posts by eager fans who are following the magazine interviews and promotion in the run up to the first round. With over 100 pre entries so far and the added option of registering at the event, the 2012 4X Pro Tour is set to be a huge success.
The Houffalize 4X track itself is classic. The favourites never have an advantage as the huge, loose berm corners, corkscrew bridge/tunnel, pro line and road drop at the finish make this unique track unpredictable.
The ones to watch
In the men’s race, Tomas Slavik and Joost Wichman will be the favourites. Slavik has already got his season off to a winning start last weekend at the first round of the Schwalbe British 4X Series. His reasons for racing in the UK early in the year – he wanted to be ready for round 1 of the 4X Pro Tour. Wichman has a new focus this year. As the team captain for the newly formed Rose Vaujany team, he will be looking to get his season started with a great result in Houffalize.
In the women’s race, World Champion Anneke Beerten will be racing in her rainbow jersey for the very first time since winning the World Championships in September last year. Her competition will surely come from Katy Curd, team mate to Joost Wichman. Katy has always shown promise with her racing, but 2012 looks like it could be her year.
Registration – 16.00 to 19.00
Practice – 20.00 to 21.15
Qualification – 21.30
Practice – 19.00 to 20.15
Race – 20.30