He’s not the current champion, and he doesn’t devote his racing himself solely to Four-cross – 4X – yet somehow Slavík seems to personify the very spirit of this intense, explosive racing. It’s “my most favourite Mountain Bike format” he confides.
4X is a gravity-fuelled elimination-based mountain bike racing event where four riders go head-to-head on a track with berms and jumps, with the slowest two from each round eliminated and the fastest two going through until a final is reached, and ultimately concluded. As Simon Burney, UCI Mountain Bike Consultant says, 4X is “little like a BMX track on the side of a hill” – so it’s fast, hard, elbow-to-elbow racing with nowhere to hide.
But “Slava” doesn’t want to hide. He’s "always ready to rock!"
Slavík became UCI Mountain Bike Four-CrossWorld Champion back in 2010, just his second year racing in the format. in 2012, he set the 4X ProTour on fire, winning every round and topping the rankings. He claimed his second UCI Mountain Bike Four-Cross World Champion in 2014,.
It had looked like a third Rainbow jersey might be on the cards in 2017 but a hard crash in a qualification run ended that dream for another year. “Unfortunately my front wheel disappeared in deep dust and went down hard so as my dream disappeared and fell apart at that moment,” said a very disappointed Slava that day… referring to the World Championships as his ‘Nemesis’. It’s the race that really matters to him.
Fast forward to summer 2018 and he came close, finishing as runner-up at the UCI Mountain Bike Four-Cross World Championships behind Frenchman Quentin Derbier in Val di Sole. When the 4X circus returns to the iconic Italian venue for the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships Presented by Mercedes-Benz alongside the UCI Mercedes-Benz Mountain Bike World Cup DHI and XCO events on the weekend of 1-4 August, the man from Brno aims to go one better, and claim his third World Championship.
The icing on the cake would be for the 32-year-old to wear the Rainbow jersey alongside fellow Czech racer Ramona Labounkova, who upgraded her 2017 Women Elite Silver for Gold in 2018.
, Tomáš is best known as a 4X racer, but he also competes in in Downhill, , , . He likes a good Pumptrack workout and developed his love for all things MTB as a progression of his days as a Junior racing BMX – more recently he has even built his own BMX track in his native Czeck Republic.
But that’s the not the only off-road race track Slavík has created. He has also been heavily involved with organising the JBC 4X Revelations events – on a track that he co-designed and built at Jablonec nad Nisou, a mountain resort in the Jizera Mountains.Talking about the close racing at this month’s ‘home race’, Slava said: “It was a really close call during the ¼ finals. I got a flat tire in the first part of the track and had to pin it down this super hard track with no grip... at the end I protected my 1st place but in the last turn the heat and pressure from the other riders was really high – but that’s Fourcross!”
Slavík won the qualifier and proudly raced with the no 1 plate at his home track. The same plate he wore at this June’s 4X ProTour race at Fort William which, according to Slavík, “never disappoints… sick track, wild racing and loud crowd!”, winning his fifth race at the Scottish venue.
Both events are highly competitive, adrenaline-fuelled and well attended. But both are something of warm up events for the fast and frenetic ‘Worlds’ that Tomáš is truly pumped up for. The good news is it’s not long for him, or us, to wait until the action starts!