Good morning all. We have just returned from the 2016 UCI 4X World Championships, which were held over the weekend at Val Di Sole, Italy.
The track which is located high in the mountains in Northern Italy is one of Scott’s favourites. With several podiums before, Scott was confident and ready for battle.
Here is the story and photos from the whole event. Enjoy.
Practice – Day 1:
The week started off with practice session 1. With the weather perfect and the track in pristine condition, the gate opened and riders got practice underway. The track in Val Di Sole is loose due to the conditions being so consistently dry. Huge 180 degree corners offer plenty of line choices whilst the huge jumps and rocks offer the technical challenge to the riders.
Right from the word go, Scott was looking great. He was fast and precise and certainly looking in the mood for a great result. The practice session lasted for 1.5 hours and afterwards Scott was happy:
‘I love this track and I think it is in the best shape it has ever been in’. It was time for some food and a chance to reflect on the session and prepare for the next day and qualifying.
Practice & Qualifying – Day 2:
Day 2 arrived and it was an hour long practice session followed by qualifying. This session sees the riders going for full runs and using predominantly outside lines as they search for the fastest line down the 45 second track.
Scott again looked good and he was extremely focused on getting a good qualifying time to give himself the best possible chance come race time.
Practice finished and Scott began his warm up for his qualifying run. The ruthless format of 4X meant that only 32 riders would qualify. With 45 of the World’s best riders lining up, 13 would unfortunately not make it past the qualifying stage. The pressure was on all the riders to not make a mistake.
Scott was the fourth rider to leave the start gate. With a perfect snap, he was on track and looking great. Nailing every line perfectly and carrying really good speed; the run looked great. Across the finish line and Scott took the lead. He was happy with the run and said:
‘It was a good run. I was a little cautious in the top turns as they are so loose but overall I am happy with it. I want to be in the top 3.’
That wish ultimately came true with only 2 other riders going faster – Tomas Slavik from the Czech Republic and Hannes Slavik (no relation) from Austria.
3rd position for Scott in qualifying and a great opportunity for the inside gate positions for racing.
Media – Day 3:
The race was scheduled to take place at 20.45 so Scott had the day to walk the track and focus on the job in hand. Some good food and plenty of USN hydration during the day meant he was ready for action. Of course in between were some TV interviews and media commitments!
Race – Day 3:
So all the preparation, all the planning and all the training came down to this. Race time. Scott’s draw was tough, but at World Championships every race is tough and if he wanted to be World Champion, he would have to prove it by beating the World’s best riders along the way.
The floodlights were on and there were thousands of spectators lining the track. The atmosphere was incredible with horns, whistles and chainsaws making all the noise. Everything was set. Race time.
In Scott’s first race he would take on some of the best European 4X riders including last year’s World Champion – Aiko Gohler. The gate drooped and Scott took the lead. Pulling away by the last straight Scott had a huge lead and took a convincing win.
Round 2 and another tough race for Scott. Defending Champion Aiko Gohler, last year’s bronze medalist Benedikt Last and one of the World’s fastest BMX riders, Sylvain Andre. Scott made a great gate, but got jumped in the first turn. Staying strong in turn 2 Scott then received a huge bang from Andre. Staying on the bike Scott was in second and got the hammer down, pulling away and qualifying through no problem. There was a scare in turn 2 but Scott held it together to qualify.
Scott was straight back to the start for the semi finals. In gate 1 would be Hannes Slavik, Scott was in 2, USA BMX rider Barry Nobles in 3 and Benedikt Last in 4. The gate dropped and Scott was level with Slavik and Nobles. Slavik then just moved across enough to give Scott no space so he dropped back and cut up the inside in turn one. The move was so close to working, but unfortunately Scott found himself in last position. Losing a lot of ground, Scott re grouped and began his charge back from 10 bike lengths behind third position.
In what was probably one of the rides of the night, Scott made up the ground he had lost along the final two straights. Powering along the flat straight, railing the turn and riding the rocks faster than any other rider all night, Scott bumped Nobles in the last turn but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. Scott crossed the line in third and the World Champion dream was over. Absolutely distraught in the finish, Scott was clearly gutted. However, at World’s riders have to regroup and head up the hill to determine 5th to 8th places in the small final.
The small final lined up on the gate. Scott took gate 1, USA’s Blake Carney in 2, Benedikt Last in 3 and Slovenia’s Mitja Ergaver in 4. Scott was in the gate, then there was a commotion behind him. In the other semi final Tomas Slavik, fastest qualifier had cut the lines out of the start and had been demoted to the small final. There were arguments and discussions for 10 minutes as he argued the case, but in the end Ergaver went to the main final and Slavik was in the small final.
Scott calmly sat there and kept his head. The gate dropped and Slavik took the holeshot from Scott in 2nd. Scott was tracking his back wheel lining up a pass in turn 5, but he didn’t have to as in turn 4 Tomas crashed out of the race. Scott was committed to the huge pro doubles and had to pull up with everything he had on the first one. He cased that and then had to pull left out of the section as he did not have enough speed. Benedikt Last jumped into the lead at this point. Scott in a move similar to his semi final again carried huge amounts of speed into the rocks and simply did not brake. He rode around Last and took the lead, held his line in the final turn and took the win to give him 5th position at the 2016 4X World Championships.
In an incredible final, it was Slovenia’s Mitja Ergaver who took the win after qualifying 21st! It again went to show that 4X is an incredible sport and predicting a winner is extremely tough!
After the race Scott was able to take loads of selfies with the fans and chat to the media about the race. He came to Italy to win, but 5th in the World is something that the team are extremely proud of.