British downhiller Gee Atherton has just been crowned as the Mountain Biking UK dual slalom pro champion after a thrilling final run showdown with US 4X star Brian Lopes at BikeRadar Live.
Third place went to France's Romain Saladini (Sunn), while Britain's Scott Beaumont (Rocky Mountain) came a close fourth. After a crash in practice, Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate) had decided to bow out of the competition rather than risk injury and lose his lead in the World Cup.
After his win, Atherton (Animal Commencal) said: "It feels good to ride in front of a home crowd so I was always on the cards for a win, but with Lopes, Salidini, all the fast boys, it was always going to be a good race.
"I tried to take it easy in practice because I knew it was going to be a really long evening. The first run [in the finals] was super close so on the second run I tried to relax and just get stuck in."
An initial field of 32 qualifiers was whittled down through five two-race rounds (riders swapped lanes after the first run in each moto), with most of the big names, including World Cup downhill champion Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) and Aussie powerhouse Chris Kovarik (ChainReactionCycles Intense) making it through to the final stages.
Marc Beaumont (L) and Lewis Lacey jostle for the lead
The races were not without incident however, with a particularly dramatic crash between Tom Dowie (Spank) and Danny Hart (Lapierrre) on the finish line and plenty of other wince-inducing collisions.
In the third round, Atherton knocked out Matt Simmonds (ChainReactionCycles Intense), Salidini won against Minnaar, Lopes ended Kovarik's hopes and Scott Beaumont took out Mark Beaumont (GT).
Brian Lopes (L) beat Chris Kovarik to earn a place in the finals
Fastest qualifier Atherton then beat Salidini to face Lopes in the finals, where he won both final motos, elliciting a huge roar from the home crowd and sparking a night of partying.
Fourth place went to Beaumont, who was pleased with his performance, saying: "I'm full of cold at the moment so 10 runs down there and I'm hanging! I'm stoked though."
Greg Minnaar was knocked out in the third round by French rider Romain Salidini
|1 Gee Atherton||0:00:28.965|
|2 Brian Lopes||0:00:29.772|
|3 Romain Salidini||0:00:29.540|
|4 Scott Beaumont||0:00:29.074|
|5 Chris Kovarik||0:00:29.319|
|6 Greg Minnaar||0:00:29.326|
|7 Matt Simmonds||0:00:30.329|
|8 Marc Beaumont||0:00:30.417|
|9 Lewis Lacey||0:00:29.839|
|10 Josh Bryceland||0:00:30.371|
|11 Rich Batey||0:00:30.486|
|12 Tom Dowie||0:00:30.565|
|13 Jordan Gould||0:00:30.747|
|14 Ruaridh Cunningham||0:00:30.759|
|15 Pat Campbell-Jenner||0:00:30.837|
|16 Dale Russell||0:00:30.954|
|17 Neil Donoghue||0:00:30.960|
|18 Bernard Kerr||0:00:31.238|
|19 Sam Dale||0:00:31.305|
|20 Richard Cunningham||0:00:31.311|
|21 Danny Hart||0:00:31.433|
|22 Jamie Goldman||0:00:31.562|
|23 Kieron McAvoy||0:00:31.595|
|24 Alex Dick||0:00:31.762|
|25 Duncan Ferris||0:00:31.944|
|26 Stephen Simms||0:00:32.002|
|27 James Wilson||0:00:32.092|
|28 Liam Munn||0:00:32.503|
|29 Stefan Garlicki||0:00:32.792|
|30 Jason Egan||0:00:33.016|
|31 AJ Boardman||0:00:34.954|
|32 Ollie Jones||0:00:35.407|
|33 Philip Evans||0:00:35.533|
|34 Alex Metcalf||0:00:36.702|
|35 Mike Yard||0:00:36.878|
|36 Simon Scruby||0:00:38.355|
|37 Joe Kennedy||0:00:39.453|
|38 Chris Kellet||0:00:40.138|
|39 Peter Newman||0:00:41.596|