Words: Colin Meagher
I’ve said it before: 4X is a crapshoot. And good craps players win consistently. But sometimes, you lose. That’s how it goes in 4X racing: luck and skill will run out, eventually. For the men, it was a bit of a shocker when Jared Graves bowed out in round one. The rainmaker was out? In the first round? WTF?!?
“My front wheel washed in one of the flat corners down low on the course, and I needed to put a foot out for a dab,” said a somewhat embarrassed Graves about kissing the dirt, “but I couldn’t release from my bloody pedal. And that was that.”
So the men’s was up for grabs, all of the sudden. Or sort of. There are plenty of 4X ninjas at a World Cup, most of them holding European driving licenses. Roger Rinderknecht. Joost Wichman. Michal Prokop. Rafael Alvarez. Take your pick—any one of these chaps can get you at the gate without even blinking.
But, the ladies come first. Only 14 contenders, but the usual powerhouses were all in attendance: Jill Kintner, Anneke Beerten, Mio Suemasa, Fionn Griffiths, and Melissa Buhl. And seven other ladies who’d love to break into that group. Mix that in with brake checks, sharp elbows, and the general “incidental contact” that goes down when four riders all want to go through the same section of trail, and you’re likely to see some hard racing.
Round one went like clockwork and the strong advanced. In semi one, Melissa Buhl, however, took herself out in the second corner. Doh! Small final for her. She breezed through that to take fifth. Back to clockwork. The women’s big final was another story entirely, though. Kintner pulled a brake check in turn one. She’d pulled that move more than once in the evening. It’s a neat trick if no one’s expecting it. But Fionn Griffiths was lurking just far enough back, that when Kintner pulled it ahead of her close out rival Anneke Beerten, Griffiths accelerated around her. Chalk up win number two for the season in 4X to Fionn Griffiths and Norco.
Back to the men: Graves was out, but the remaining big names were all still in, as was a freshly minted 4X racer wearing stars and stripes named Mitch Ropelato. The wee-man is a bit south of 21 years old, but he rode like a kid 50 pounds heavier with experience to burn. It was a treat to watch him slam the door on Rafa, the reigning World Champ, in round 12 halfway through the rock garden. Ba-boom! You could hear that door rattle a mile away.
Big Final: Wichman, Prokop, Dan Atherton, and the newcomer with the XL cajones, Ropelato. Turn one: Wichman out in front, Prokop on his wheel, but then Prokop gets spanked on his rear wheel and goes down, taking Ropelato and Atherton with him. As Wichman cruises the rock garden, Ropelato gets going first, then Atherton, who pulls up, but then slowly rolls the course. A shaken Prokop follows about 30 seconds later. The high: Wichman takes a “W,” and Ropelato takes second. The low: Atherton likely re-breaks his scapula, and Prokop tweaks a knee, bruises his ribs, and injures his shoulder.
Best of luck healing up for Worlds for those two, although Atherton is likely out for a while.
Bromont World Cup Men’s 4X Results:
1. Joost Whichman
2. Mitch Ropelato
3. Dan Atherton
4. Michal Prokop
5. Quentin Derbier
6. Tomas Slavik
7. Michael Haderer
8. Scott Beaumont
Bromont World Cup Women’s 4X Results:
1. Fionn Griffiths
2. Anneke Beerten
3. Jill Kintner
4. Joanna Petterson
5. Melissa Buhl
6. Sarsha Huntington
7. Eva Castro Fernande
8. Lucia Oetjen