Posted by Editoress on 06/4/11
Beerten and Rinderknecht Take Wins in Fort Bill
Our coverage brought to you with the support of Velirium
Once again, Fort William, Scotland, has provided some of the most exciting racing of the season, with two new winners for this second round of the 4-Cross World Cup. At the tenth anniversary event for Fort William, Anneke Beerten (Milka-Trek) has finally won for the first time in her career, while Roger Rinderknecht () was the surprise winner of a crash-filled men's final. Beerten and Jared Graves (Yeti-Fox Shox) continue to lead the overall series standings.
The redesigned course proved to be a winner, with lots of passing and lead changes through the races. While there were still a few muddy, low-lying sections, most of the course had dried up enough to make many of the corners dusty and slippery, causing more than a few riders to slide out. The rock garden at the halfway point also proved to be a key factor, as numerous riders lost speed or crashed after choosing the wrong line.
The women's competition lost one rider before the competition had even started, with British rider Katy Curd breaking her arm in Downhill training earlier in the day. The first round of competition saw one favourite not make it through, when round one second place finisher Fionn Griffiths (Team GR) flatted in her heat. Despite the flat, she managed to hold onto second place until the final straight. Melissa Buhl (KHS - Azonic), the fastest qualifier also flatted in her heat, but it was close enough to the finish that she still managed to win and move on.
In the semi-final round, Buhl's luck ran out when she slid as she was entering the rock garden, forcing her to put her foot down, losing speed. The American managed to win the Small Final for fifth place. The rest of the top qualifiers all moved on to the Final, with the new British sensation Joey Gough joining Beerten, along with Lucia Oetjen of switzerland and Celine Gros (Morzine-Avoriaz/Haute-Savoie).
The amazingly fast Gough took the holeshot from Beerten, but the highly experienced Dutch rider just bided her time, cutting inside of Gough on the corner just before the rock garden to take the lead and then hold it to the line. Oetjen took third, ahead of Gros.
"It's unbelievable, I've been coming here so many years, and I've never won," exclaimed Beerten. "They made some changes to the track, and I really like the new track. To finally win in Fort William ... I was really working hard to get this one, and now I've finally got it."
Beerten now has a commanding lead, with 200 points to the 90 of both Oetjen and Gros.
The men's race looked to be a replay of what we have seen over and over again: Graves jumping away from his rivals out of the start gate and cruising to the finish line. In the first three rounds, this was exactly how it went, with the Australian riding everyone off his wheel. In the first two rounds, all of the top riders made it through safely, with the exception of Guido Tschugg (Ghost), who was caught out in the eighth-final by the passing skills of the young British rider Scott Roberts, and Rafael Alvarez de Lara Lucas, the former world champion returning from injury, who was a victim of the most amazing pass of the evening by Michal Marosi (RSP 4 Cross), who literally jumped the rock garden to pass him mid-air.
Marosi, Johannes Fischbach (Ghost) and Kamil Tatarkovic all got knocked out in the quarter-final round, leaving Graves to go up against Rinderknecht, world champion Thomas Slavik (RSP 4 Cross) and Romain Saladini in one semi-final, and David Graf, Joost Wichman (RSP 4 Cross), Michal Prokop and Michael Mechura (Chain Reaction/Nukeproof) in the other.
In a stunning surprise, graves was beaten to the holeshot for the first corner by Savik, and then dropped to last after taking the second corner wide, allowing Rinderknecht and Saladini by him. Despite fighting back, Graves could only manage to recover to third, putting him into the small final, which he easily won for fifth place overall.
Prokop and Wichman were well in front battling for the lead just before the final corner of their semi, when they crashed into each other, allowing Graf to squeeze through for the first spot in the final. Wichman managed to grab his bike first and scramble to the line ahead of Prokop for the second spot.
The men's final saw further crash action. Wichman took the lead, and appeared to be well in control, ahead of Rinderknecht and Slavik as he entered the rock garden. However, he hit the bottom of the rock garden front wheel first, somersaulting over the bars. Even worse, his bike shot sideways across the course, behind Rinderknecht but in front of his team mate Slavik, taking the world champion out as well.
Rinderknecht easily cruised in for the win, followed by a disbelieving Graf, while the two RSP riders slowly picked themselves up and limped across the line.
"It feels amazing, to win here," commented Rinderknecht. "My last win, last year in Val di Sole [Italy] was totally different. I won qualifying, and went into the race as one of the favourites. This time, I had a bad crash in practice and hurt my foot pretty bad, so I took it easy in qualifying and only qualified sixteenth. I really didn't know what to expect. Itried to black it out [his foot], the pain, and not think about it. But it worked out. Joost got a little bit unlucky at the end with a crash when he was leading, but luck was on my side this time. I'm really stoked."
Despite finishing fifth, Graves still leads the men's standings, with 175 points, followed by Rinderknecht and Graf tied at 150, and Prokop a further 10 points back.
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