By Rob Jones, Cyclingnews

Monday, August 2, 2010 9.25am

Graves takes fourth to secure World Cup title

Jared Graves (Yeti Fox Shox) locked up the men's overall four-cross title despite finishing fourth behind Swiss champion Roger Rinderknecht at round five of the 2010 UCI World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy.

A large crowd came out in the warm evening sun of the Italian Dolomite Mountains to cheer on the 64 men who had made it through qualifying to contest the heats competition on Saturday. The track was the same as used for the world championships in 2008, with most contests decided within the first two corners.

Rinderknecht had the rare distinction of beating Graves for the number one seed in qualifying. Both riders advanced steadily to the final by winning all of their heats, and were joined by Tomas Slavik (RSP 4 Cross) and Michal Prokop (Agang Racing) in the men's final.

Out of the gate, through the first corner and the small jumps of the second straight, Graves had a clear lead on Rinderknecht, but coming out of the second corner, the World Cup leader and world champion had suddenly dropped to fourth.

Video showed afterwards that Rinderknecht and Graves had clashed in the corner, with the Swiss rider on the inside coming up on Graves and sticking his elbow right up into the Australian's throat. Just the rough and tumble of four-cross or a foul? Officials did not sanction it, and Graves didn't protest, so Rinderknecht took the win, ahead of Slavik and Prokop, with Graves rolling in fourth.

Graves was nonetheless angry at the move by Rinderknecht. "He stepped over the line, I think. It's all part of racing, but that was pretty dodgy," he said.

With Graves's only potential rival for the overall title, Slavik, finishing second, he now has a 135 point lead. With 125 points for a win, it means the Australian has won the men's title with one race remaining.

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