Congratulations to Romana Labounková of Czech Republic and Romain Mayet of France who are crowned 2019 MTB Four-Cross World Champions!
They prevailed in what was a fascinating competition in both the Men and Women Elite finals which got underway shortly after 21.00 local time under the floodlights of the beautiful permanent 4X track at Val di Sole, Italy, for the predictably frenetic wheel-to-wheel action that only 4X can deliver. After a day of rain in the valley of the sun that made the XCC cross country a harder task than imagined, the skies dried, the lights were lit and the finals commenced.
After Thursday evening’s qualifying runs, in the Men Elite, Czech Tomáš Slavík posted the fastest time of 44.004, more than a second clear from the Swiss Lutz Weber and Austrian Hannes Slavik – with Sweden’s Felix Beckeman (2017 World Champion) and Britain’s Elliott Heap joining them in the top five individual quali times and Stefano Dolphin, the fastest Italian on his home track, hitting sixth. 2018 World Champion Quentin Derbier (FRA) was not racing to defend his title… but he was not the only Frenchman in Italy!
For the Elite Women, of the ten starters, the eight fastest riders went through automatically to the semi-finals, representing seven different nations. Favourites and last year’s top three Raphaele Richter (GER, 2018 bronze medalist), Romana Labounková (CZE, 2018 World Champion) and Natasha Bradley (GB, 2018 runner-up) were the one-two-three in qualifying, pitching Labounková and Bradley together in the second heat.
When the action unpacked and the four-way head-to-head eliminator rounds started?
As the cowbells rang and the chainsaws whirred it was the quartet of Labounková, Bradley, French youngster Mathilde Bernard and the fastest qualifier Richter who progressed through to the Women Elite final, and that was the order over the line: it was the Czech athlete who powered away from the field to take the win in style for her second consecutive World Championship.
In the men Elite competition, 32 riders started the 1/8th finals on Friday, with favourites Slavik and Beckeman leading the way and with Weber and Italian rider Roberto Cristofoli amongst the others making it through to the semi-final round. But the final four to line up were Beckeman, Heap, seventh-fastest qualifier Urban Rotnik of Slovenia and tenth-fastest qualifier Romain Mayet of France.
And it was the 26-year-old Frenchman who took the win, the one-time BMX European Championships medalist putting it to the rest of the field. Britain’s Heap (fourth last year) took silver with Beckeman (fifth last year) collecting bronze.
Congratulations to both winners, proud to wear the rainbow stripes for the next year – and it’s a long year with the 4X World Championships set to be run alongside the DHI and XCO World Championships at Val di Sole in September 2020.