All the action from day 2 at the UCI World Championships
World Championships -Day Two Rotorua New Zealand
Thursday night brought plenty of rain to Rotorua. Fox Fluid over-jackets came out in force and some riders switched to mud tyres since the downhill course resembled many a UK winter DH track. The top section above the first fire road crossing had turned into gauntlet of slick off-cambers and several inch deep chutes spitting riders from their bikes left, right and centre. Elite and Junior practice started at 8am but as the sun came out the open sections of the course started to dry out and some areas became very claggy so line selection was crucial. The usual Pros were still running super-fast down the entire track and a great deal of riders were providing entertainment over the lake jump near the start of the course with tweaks galore and several riders coming up a little short, but no-one ended up in the pond.
Tweaked over the pond jump.
The Atherton brothers on the final practice session.
This years 4-Cross course was designed and built in time for the Oceania Championships held at Rotorua in March ‘06. The course was described like this by Jill Kintner, eventual Champion of the Women’s Elite 4-Cross:
“That’s probably the biggest course I’ve ever ridden in terms of gradient and jumps… Definitely the most fun event I’ve ridden in too”
The course itself started high up on the hillside along the first straight into the first tight switchback which saw plenty of action, elbows and falls. Around another switchback it flowed into a massive rhythm section on which many riders were styling it up for a huge and loud crowd. The effort put in by some of the spectators was incredible, really getting behind all the riders, particularly the Kiwis. After the rhythm section followed two switchbacks rocking onto the Red Bull Wall Ride. This lined riders up to the RotoVegas Rollers set of tables dropping into the final corner and the finish arena. Altogether an outstanding track which could be seen in its entirety from most spots allowing for fantastic viewing.
The Men’s line up featured 32 riders, usual suspects included 2005 4-Cross Champion Brian Lopes, Cedric Gracia, Michael Prokop, Brits Will Longden, the Atherton brothers and a very strong NZ contingent including local hero John Kirkaldie. Both Michael Hannah and Wade Bootes both failed to qualify for the finals.
Men’s 1st heat saw Prokop storm into the lead. Gee Atherton took second place in a toughly fought 2nd heat and fellow Brit Will Longden took 2nd in his first heat. Rolling showman Cedric Gracia took a fall in the 1st round and failed to qualify for the next round, with Czech rider Tamil Tatarkovic proceeding through. Dan Atherton also came in 2nd moving onto the next round. John Kirkaldie got caught in the scramble on the second corner and came back from 4th all the way to second, only to be disqualified after the race for going round the outside of one of the gates on turn number two. Needless to say the crowd were on their feet as he pulled back 3rd place and reeled in 2nd but it was not to be his day unfortunately.
Prokop (CZE), Warren (USA), Cavalier (AUS) and Haderer (USA) line up at the gate of the 1st round 1st heat.
Czech Lukas Tamme chases Brian Lopes into turn one.
Second round saw Prokop through to the semis along with Lopes, Tshugg, Rinderknecht and Brits Longden and Dan Atherton. Favourite Mickael Deldycke was eliminated along with Gee Atherton.
The semis provided as much drama as to be expected from such a gathering of world class riders. Michael Prokop continued to dominate and Will Longden came through to win his semi after previous champion Brian Lopes crashed out. The crowd gave him a warm reception as he rode down the rest of the course after the race.
Dan Atherton leads Suiss rider Roger Rinderknecht in the semi-final over the Red Bull Wall Ride.
Michael Prokop led the final right from the gate. Roger Rinderknecht came in 2nd, Guido Tshugg 3rd and Dan Atherton in 4th place.
Michael Prokop tweaked over the “RotoVegas Rollers” approaching the finish arena in the Men’s 4-cross Final.
Men’s 4-Cross Podium.
1. Michael Prokop (CZE)
2. Roger Renderknecht (SUI)
3. Guido Tshugg (GER)
4. Dan Atherton (GBR)
5. Joost Wichman (NED)
6. Will Longden (GBR)
7. Michael Marosi (CZE)
8. Brian Lopes (USA)
9. Jurg Meijer (NED)
10. Gee Atherton (GBR)
The Women’s event went straight into the semi-finals with only 8 qualifiers competing for the title of World 4-Cross Champion. Favourites Jill Kintner (USA) and Annkeke Beerten (NED) came through along with Jana Harakova (CZE)and Anita Molcik (AUT) for the Women’s final. Brit Joey Gough fought hard but came in 3rd in her heat.
Number 1 seed Jill Kintner came through to take the title with Anneke Beerten 2nd and Anita Molcik 3rd.
Beerten chases Kintner into the finish arena.
Women’s 4-Cross Podium.
1. Jill Kintner (USA)
2. Anneke Beerten (NED)
3. Anita Molcik (AUT)
4. Jana Harakova (CZE)
5. Joey Gough (GBR)
6. Melissa Buhl (USA)
7. Tara Llanes (USA)
8. Jessica Vogt (USA)
Saturday brings the conclusion of the Downhill which will no doubt be as exciting as the 4-Cross. From Rotorua that’s all for now, more tomorrow.