The men's four-cross at round seven of the Nissan UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Bromont, Canada could charitably be called a ‘crashfest’. Crashes and upsets featured in every heat, and the World Cup leader went out in the first round.
Joost Wichman of the Netherlands took his third win of the season and moved into second in the overall standings behind points leader Jared Graves (Yeti Fox Shox).
“There were so many corners, and whoever was first into the first corner had a problem,” said Wichman. “The best line was always the inside one, but that gave you problems in the next corner, so it was very difficult to ride it cleanly.
“In the final I heard the crash behind me, but I didn’t look back. I just kept going because I wasn’t sure who was chasing me. I think this puts me in a pretty good position for second overall.”
The top-seeded riders began to fall out of contention in the first round, with World Cup leader Graves going out after crashing in the second corner. Number one qualifier Romain Saladini (Team Sunn) crashed out in the second round, as did Roger Rinderknecht (GT Bicycles), who was second in the World Cup rankings, and world champion Rafael Alvarez de Lara Lucas (Specialized Factory Team). In the semi-finals it was the Czech rider Tomas Slavik who went down.
This left Wichman, Dan Atherton (Animal-Commencal), Czech rider Michal Prokop and a newcomer to 4X, American Junior rider Mitch Ropelato, for the final. Wichman managed to get away early, missed the crash that took down the other three riders and coasted in for the win. Ropelato was up first and took silver, while Atherton limped in for third ahead of Prokop.
Graves has already mathematically won the World Cup title, and Wichman now holds a 115 point lead over Rinderknecht going into the final round in Schladming, Austria after the world championships.
Fionn Griffiths (Norco) took her second win of the season in the women's four-cross and moved into a tie for second in the overall standings behind leader Anneke Beerten (Suspension Center) after racing a tactically savvy final.
Perennial rivals Beerten and Jill Kintner of the United States made it through to the final, along with Griffiths and Joanna Petterson of South Africa. Kintner and Beerten tangled in the first corner, allowing Griffiths to sneak through and take the win. Beerten managed to recover for second, with Kintner third.
“It was a hard course, with the corners being really square,” said Griffiths. “Basically, whoever went into the first corner in first place had a problem, so I hung back a bit behind Jill and was then able to get out in front. After that, I just concentrated on riding down cleanly and not crashing.”
The result solidified Beerten’s lead in the overall standings at 480 points, but Griffiths has now moved up to join Kintner in second place, with both at 400 points.
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