Friday night saw Anneke Beerten of the Netherlands and Aiko Göhler of Germany become the 2015 UCI Four-Cross world champions in Val di Sole, Italy.
Before a crowd of thousands of fans under bright lights, the Four-Cross world championships were held on the permanent track built for this intense sport. Heats of four riders at a time leap out of the starting gate to hurtle down a steep track with banked turns, jumps and rock gardens, fighting for position in each corner, with the top two moving on to the next round, until there are only four left to contest the title.
In the women's category it was a really a two woman race, between two-time world champion Anneke Beerten and Lucia Oetjen of Switzerland. Oetjen qualified first just ahead of Beerten, and each easily won their quarter-final and semi-final heats to advance to the medal final. They were joined by Steffi Marth (Germany) and Monica Hrastnik (Slovenia) in the final. Beerten used her experience and fast start to take the lead and hold on for her third title.
In the men's field, fastest qualifier Hannes Slavik (Austria) and Luke Cryer (Great Britain) moved up through the first half of the heats to make the final, while Gohler and countryman Benedikt Last came from the second half of the draw to complete the final four. Slavik looked to be on his way to the world title, easily winning his eighth, quarter and semi final races, and was leading the final when he went out in a crash on the third corner, opening the way for Göhler to move into the lead and take the title.
What a friday night!