Words and Photos: Colin Meagher
At Fort William, it's go full gas, get the hole shot, and then hang on and hope that you don't break a chain, flat, or otherwise shoot yourself in the foot. Simple recipe, not so simple to execute.
However, Jana Horakova and Jared Graves have horsepower to burn, so even when they didn't get the snap from the gate in their respective races, they were able to make up the difference and advance, round after round. Graves even finished at least one round with a flat, yet still came out on top in the end:
The men's big final ended with Graves taking the win over Joost Wichman, Michal Prokop, and Romain Saladini; Kamil Tatarkovic took the win in the small final for fifth. Graves continues to extend his lead over Joost Wichman for the WC overall.
"I nearly got tangled with Joost at the snap," stated Graves. "He lined up way inside of his gate in order to avoid a rock that was creeping out of the start ramp. When the gate dropped, we nearly tangled, but I was able to get by him and get the hole shot and didn't make any mistakes."
The women's big final saw Anneke Beerten take the gate, but get taken by the powerful Jorakova on the straight. Jorakova went on for the win, with (in second place on down) Anita Molcik, Romana Labounkova, and Beerten, and Lucia Oetjen rounding out the podium. Jorakova is looking to be the WC overall winner if she can remain on form, with Molcik and Beerten both chasing hard.
The beer garden at Fort William is almost as legendary as the venue itself. Unfortunately, with the hot weather, cold beer was in unusually high demand, as the 75 people in this line can attest.
SNAP! Getting the gate at means a fast snap at Fort William; there's almost no where to pass if you're not in the lead on the first corner.
The rider's view of that opening straight. There are almost no tactics that can be played to take that opening corner other than pure horse power.
Cedric Gracia ain't finished with racing yet. On the surface, CG may seem to be a party boy and that's all, but while he definitely knows how to have a good time, inside lurks the cold hearted assassin of a true four cross racer.
Domination is the name of the game on the opening straight at Fort William. Anneke Beerten knows the game and plays it to the hilt in the early rounds. ''I really hope they re-do this track for next year,'' said Beerten. ''It was good in '07 (the year this version of the track debuted for Worlds) but it's no longer technical enough. It needs some rocks and some harder lines.''
Jana Horakova's roots in BMX racing translated to sheer power in the opening straight. That power proved to be the key to winning, despite the presence of Anneke Beerten in the mix. ''She's just so powerful, that on a long straight like this track's, combined with almost no technical made it difficult for me to get a good position. I had good gates, but couldn't hang onto that lead against her on that opening straight.''
Horakova slamming shut the door on the competition.
Romain Saladini... baby faced assassin is the nick-name he's acquired since storming to the forefront of 4X racing. Out of the first two rounds with a shoulder injury, but back in the thick of it at Fort William, the Frenchman took fourth in his first race of the season.
Graves over Prokop in the finals. The lead may look slim but this race was won six turns back.
''Grubby'' Graves having a little fun at Michal Prokop's expense on the podium with the sponsor block. Prokop knows what's going on, but can't do a thing to get Graves' monster can off his red bull hat brim. Graves is almost a lock now for the overall once again; Joost Wichman lurks only 125 points back, but given the consistency the Aussie has shown, barring an injury, he should take the overall.