Few, if any other sports, demand the mix of skill, wiles, and pure dumb luck that it takes to win a World Cup 4X race. The principles are so simple: take four racers and turn 'em loose. Add a judicious blend of incidental contact (it ain't racing if there ain't rubbing), mix well with lady luck and you've got a pretty good idea of what goes down when it's elbows out and all or nothing.
The new track here in Mont-Sainte-Anne is a winner. But it was tough. Loads of passing lanes demand that riders protect their leads in the corners. And a slip up anywhere—the rock garden seemed took out more than a few riders—sent racers from first to last in a hurry.
We saw a bit of that in the women's semis when a nasty crash took out fifth-place finisher Melissa Buhl. As she put it, "I just came into the rock garden too hot and blew my line."
She wasn't the only one to make a mistake. A dejected Jill Kintner, who took fourth, was gaining on Anneke Beerten in the final, only to slip in a corner and take herself out. Kintner's a sharp learner and is good at breaking down mistakes, so look to see a return to the top step soon.
Anneke Beerten, Fionn Griffiths and Joanna Petterson took the top three spots.
With two races left in the World Cup Gravity series, Anneke Beerten now leads on points, but Kintner is breathing down her neck, a mere 55 points back. With a win next week in Bromont, Kintner could make the Schladming finals very interesting.
Over on the men's side, Jared Graves is a master at his craft. This time, there was no getting the door shut in his face like what happened at Maribor. Instead, he kept the pedal mashed firmly to the floor and protected his corners all the way home. Chalk up another "W" for Grubby Graves. Rafael Alvarez de Lara Lucas dodged the bad luck that's plagued him in Europe and finished second, followed by Tomas Slavik and Roger Rinderknecht (who clipped a gate in the final, bounced bum first off a refrigerator-sized rock, and was barely able to ride down the track after he picked himself up). A visibly weary Dan Atherton won the small final. Dan was hesitant to make excuses, but it was plain that the physical nature of the DH track here had taken a toll on the well-conditioned rider.
If I read the rankings right, Grubby now has a mathematical lock on the World Cup overall title.
Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup Men’s 4X Results:
1. Jared Graves
2. Rafael Alvarez De Lara Lucas
3. Tomas Slavik
4. Roger Rinderknecht
5. Dan Atherton
6. Joost Wichman
7. Filip Polc
8. Bernard Kerr
9. Romain Sladini
10. Guido Tschugg
Mont-Sainte-Anne World CupWomen’s 4X Results:
1. Anneke Beerten
2. Fionn Griffiths
3. Joanna Petterson
4. Jill Kintner
5. Melissa Buhl
6. Anita Molcik
7. Sarsha Huntington
8. Mio Suemasa
9. Lucia Oetjen
10. Eva Castro Fernandez