By Paul Verkuylen, Cyclingnews.com
Sunday, August 31, 2008 12.00pm
Jared Graves heads the charge
Jared Graves, Sam Willoughby and Luke Madill atop the men's 4X podium AFP/Getty Images
Australian Jared Graves finished atop the men's four cross podium after beating Sam Willoughby in an all-Australian final.
"It's the best to come to races like this and get the home crowd support," Graves said.
This was Graves' last race for the season after a hectic build up to the Olympics, to come away with a win was bonus. "It's good for the head to go home and know that I finished the season strong."
Intermittent rain made it tough, but not surprisingly it didn't seem to slow them down. With the huge home crowd cheering on the Australian riders it was tough for the international riders to advance to the final. "Having it at night when everyone has had a few beers under their belts, that's what I love about mountain biking, everyone is so relaxed, it's just like a big party," Graves said.
With four Australians making the final, and Caroline Buchanan taking her first world cup in the women's event, the crowd was pumped as they lined up for the final run down the course.
Graves was the only rider in the final who had actually experienced a world cup before. The others, regulars at Australian events had never raced an international four cross before. "But they are all top level BMXer's and have raced internationally before," Graves explained. "If we get more of these guys racing four cross we [Australia] would be the dominant country in the world.
Graves' tactics were simple going into the race. "I tried not to snap to quick out of the gate because it was wet. Luke Madill slipped so that strategy paid off. I got out in front and tried to ride smart and clean."
Showing just how much class he has, even a mechanical was not able to hinder his winning ride.
"I actually lost my rear brake at the top. It is pulling right to the bar. Trying to slow down for the corners with just the front brake was a bit sketchy."
Coming home for second, to the delight of Graves, was his 17 year-old Yeti team-mate. Both riders advanced through the heats and the semis in the same draw. Each time going one-two with Graves proving to be the better rider in each.
According to Graves, Willoughby has a bright future ahead of him. "We went one-two all night. He is like the little brother that I never had. He is the junior BMX world champion; it is not unreasonable to label him the Sam Hill of BMX."