The 2019 4X ProTour moved on to Jablonec in Czech Republic on Saturday night for round 2, it will be remembered as one of the biggest 4X races ever to take place.
The weekend started on Thursday with the first practice session. A longer than normal session of 4 hours gave the riders plenty of time to master the toughest 4X track in the World. The track was in perfect condition. In fact almost too perfect. The weeks of dry weather had left it extremely dusty. So much so that the fire brigade were called to water the track! The riders were enjoying the new lower sections: bigger berms, fresh stall wall and a new rhythm straight really added to the track.
On Thursday night, the top 10 riders were presented to the fans in an open-air theatre in the centre of Jablonec and with the mayor opening the event. With big crowds and fireworks; this is a town that really embraces their 4X racing.Friday – Qualifying
Friday was qualifying day and again it was blue skies and a perfect track.
The most technical track on the circuit was being tamed by the World’s best 4X riders - riders were making this track look easy, the reality is anything but. Going in reverse order, Andrej Stepanek set the early fastest time, the downhill specialist looked at home back in the 4X World. Then 4X veteran Hannes Slavik set a time that would eventually land him in fourth. The times began to tumble.
Finally, Tomas Slavik lined up. His time of 56.832 was good enough for 1st. The home crowd was going crazy. Slavik is a hero in this town and when it counted he delivered. In every year of JBC 4X Revelations, he has qualified fastest and then gone on to win the race. The other riders know this and the warning shot was fired by Slavik in qualifying.
1st – Tomas Slavik
2nd – Andrej Stepanek
3rd – Dominic KvapilSaturday – Race Day
The riders all woke up on Saturday morning to bright sunshine and the fire engines were back at the track to help keep the dust down.
The opening ceremony started with dancers, flames and rider introductions. The Red Bull air race plane did some amazing flybys, the cameras were rolling for the live webcast and the crowds were bigger than ever. A reported 14,000 fans lined the track from start to finish. The party atmosphere was in full effect and the scene was certainly set for a night of 4X racing.
The early rounds threw up a few surprises with former podium finisher Davi Roberts and Italian champion Davide Dolphin making early exits from the racing. The new track changes Tomas and his team had made were clearly working as there were more passes in the first round of racing than in all previous years. There were options for the riders and they were using them, much to the delight of the thousands of spectators.
In the quarter-finals, it was Scott Beaumont and Felix Beckman were the big casualties. In stacked quarter-finals, the racing was wild. Tomas Slavik actually punctured into the woods but was just able to hang on and transfer to the semi-finals.
In the men’s semi-finals, Tomas Slavik took full advantage of his inside gate pick, leading to the first turn and pulling a good lead over Hannes Slavik who both transferred to the final.
In the second semi-final it was Andrej Stepanek who held off the charging Dominic Kvapil to the finish line securing their final spots.Finals
In the small final, it was a battle between Czech rider Petr Pala and Erik Emmrich for the win. Going all the way to the line it was Pala who took the win and with it the final step of the podium in 5th.
So, it was the race everyone had been waiting for. The battle for the 2019 king of JBC. Tomas Slavik took gate 1, Stepanek on 2, Kvapil in 3 and Hannes Slavik in 4. The gate dropped and Hannes flew out from the outside. He got across Kvapil and Stepanek but couldn’t make it all the way across Tomas.
Onto the proline straight Slavik pulled a small lead and the crowd went absolutely crazy. Into the woods and Tomas began to pile the pressure on the other riders. Clean through there, Slavik pulled a good lead. To the roar of the spectators, he was flying and heading for the win. There was nothing Hannes Slavik could do. Tomas rode a perfect lap. He floated down the track at full speed and made it look easy. Across the finish line, he did it, taking the win again. It was a photo finish for 2nd as Stepanek piled on the pressure but Hannes held on... just.
1st – Tomas Slavik
2nd – Hannes Slavik
3rd – Andrej Stepanek
4th – Dominik Kvapil
5th – Petr Pala
After an incredible podium ceremony, it was time to party. Czech Republics best DJ’s and bands lined up to be a part of this amazing after party.
We would just like to say a huge thank you to Tomas Slavik and his team at JBC bikepark. This guy simply went above and beyond to produce one of the greatest days of mountain bike racing ever. The entertainment, atmosphere, track, riding, fans and party were simply perfect.
Thank you to the 4X riders and teams; you guys are showing the world what is possible on our mountain bikes.
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