The second round of the 2017 4X ProTour took place in Winterberg, Germany at the weekend. Held as part of the Dirt Masters Festival, this event attracts thousands of fans who flock to Winterberg to watch 4X ProTour, IXS Downhill Cup, and the impressive Slopestyle event.
The race had nearly 200 riders entered so practice was busy and the track had a constant flow of riders as everyone got to grips with it. The weather was dry all weekend making the track super fast and dusty. The sun was shining and the track was absolutely perfect. The format for this years race was all on one day. So practice, qualifying and the race itself all took place on Friday 26th May.
After practice, it was qualifying. With just one lap to qualify into the main event, the pressure was on all the riders to have a smooth but aggressive lap.
In the women’s qualifying, it was an amazing ride from Romana Labounkova as she took the fastest qualifier ahead of Natasha Bradley and Olga Romzaikina.
In men's qualifying, there were 64 riders looking to qualify in the 64 places available. Every rider was looking for a perfect run but the rougher track this year was tricky and catching a few riders out. At the sharp end, it was Tomas Slavik from the Czech Republic who had a perfect run to take the fastest time ahead of Felix Beckeman, with Quentin Derbier in 3rd. Just two seconds covered the top 22 riders making this an extremely tight qualifying session.
So onto the race… In the early rounds, there were a couple of top riders who went out. 10th place qualifier Bocharov Kirll, unfortunately, failed to make it past the first round of racing along with Bogdan Bondor who made a few mistakes.
In the second round, a huge shock as Scott Beaumont crashed out whilst leading.
It was the quarter-finals where the action heated up. Simon Waldburger, and Urban Rotnik both qualified in the top 10 but failed to make the semi-finals. Tomas Slavik, Felix Beckeman, and Quentin Derbier were all looking good though.
In semi-final one, Felix Beckeman led from start to finish with Quentin Derbier tucked in behind him in second. In semi-final two, there was a huge shock. Benedict Last got the holeshot and led the race around turn one. Tomas Slavik was in trouble as Mikulas Nevrkla made the pass and held onto to 2nd in the tight top turns. Slavik pressured him all the way but couldn’t make the pass. Nevrkla withheld the pressure and booked his place in the final.
So onto the finals and first up were the women. Mareike Bohm won the small final to give her 5th place for the day and the final podium position. In the main final, the fastest qualifier, Labounkova took gate one, Bradley was in two, Romzaikina in three and Jessica Schmulbach in four. Labounkova made an amazing start and took the lead into turn 1. Bradley was close behind. These two battled all the way to the finish but it was Labounkova taking the win from Bradley and Romzaikina.
The men’s finals stepped up to the start. Tomas Slavik made no mistake in the small final and won to claim fifth overall for the day.
The last race of the day was the elite men's final. Beckeman took gate one, Derbier on two, Benedikt Last in three and Mikulas Nevrkla on four. As the gate dropped, all four riders were level and something had to give. With a bump and bang, Beckeman came out of the turn leading with Derbier in second and Last in third. Into turn two and Derbier dived inside of Beckeman but couldn’t make a pass. Beckeman led the race until the esses where Derbier again pressurised and dived inside. It was absolutely flat out, tyres on the limit, full gas racing. They were wheel to wheel and that was the way it stayed to the finish line but Beckeman held onto the lead with Derbier in second and Last in third.Results Women
1. Romana Labounkova
2. Natasha Bradley
3. Olga Romzaikina
4. Jessica Schmulbach
5. Mareike BohmMen:
1. Felix Beckeman
2. Quentin Derbier
3. Benedickt Last
4. Mikulas Nevrkla
5. Tomas SlavikFull Results
So that was it from Winterberg and round two. Some great racing, huge crowds, a few fresh names and the top riders from 2016 again showing they are ready to challenge the new blood for the 2017 title. The next round of 4X ProTour is in Fort William on June 3rd. All the riders are already on the road travelling to the Scottish Highlands. We will be reporting from practice, qualifying and the race itself but if you have ever fancied attending a 4X ProTour race and you are free next weekend we cannot recommend it enough. It is a real showcase of these riders and their talents on hardtail mountain bikes.
That’s it from Winterberg. Incredible racing and huge crowds. Thank you, Winterberg, for another amazing 4X ProTour race.
Photo Credits: Charles Robertson