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Buhl, Alvarez take muddy Four cross

Just days ago Mont-Ste-Anne’s tricky four-cross course was reduced to an impassable mud bog after heavy mid-week thunderstorms dumped buckets of rain on the region. Organizers contemplated canceling the event outright, as the thick mud refused to dry in the wake of additional showers. [nid:80882] But eventually the track did dry out, and maintenance crews armed with shovels and earth moving equipment turned the tide. As the World Cup race kicked off under darkening skies on Saturday evening, only a handful of patches sported mud. [nid:80879]

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By Fred Dreier

Mont Ste. Anne WC 4X: Tschugg made it to the final, but lost the World Cup lead

Mont Ste. Anne WC 4X: Tschugg made it to the final, but lost the World Cup lead

Photo: Rob Jones

Just days ago Mont-Ste-Anne’s tricky four-cross course was reduced to an impassable mud bog after heavy mid-week thunderstorms dumped buckets of rain on the region. Organizers contemplated canceling the event outright, as the thick mud refused to dry in the wake of additional showers.

Mont Ste. Anne WC 4X: Saladini leads in the quarterfinals.

Mont Ste. Anne WC 4X: Saladini leads in the quarterfinals.

Photo: Rob Jones

But eventually the track did dry out, and maintenance crews armed with shovels and earth moving equipment turned the tide. As the World Cup race kicked off under darkening skies on Saturday evening, only a handful of patches sported mud.

Mont Ste. Anne WC 4X: Rafael Alvarez De Lara Lu led in every heat.

Mont Ste. Anne WC 4X: Rafael Alvarez De Lara Lu led in every heat.

Photo: Rob Jones

The high-flying event was missing a handful of its heaviest hitters, as Australian Jared Graves (Yeti-Fox), American Jill Kintner (GT) and Czech rider Michal Prokop (Author) all skipped the race to prepare for next month’s Olympic BMX event.

But present were recently crowned world champs Melissa Buhl (KHS) of the United States and Rafael Alvarez (Specialized) of Spain, and both riders took impressive wins on the tricky, washed out course.

Mont Ste. Anne WC 4X: Buhl completes her overtake of Beerten metres before Beerten crashes.

Mont Ste. Anne WC 4X: Buhl completes her overtake of Beerten metres before Beerten crashes.

Photo: Rob Jones

Alvarez, who took the world title last month in Italy after his competitors crashed each other out, easily won in the finals after German Guido Tschugg (Red Bull) and Frenchman Cedric Gracia (Commençal) tangled and crashed.

“The track in the days before was challenging due to the rain, but today it was perfect,” said Alvarez.

Gracia, the crowd favorite, remounted his bike only to see that his front wheel had been tacoed. Someone in the crowd offered the Frenchman a beer, and he walked the rest of the way down.

Mont Ste. Anne WC 4X: Gracia rolls down after his crash at the top of the Final.

Mont Ste. Anne WC 4X: Gracia rolls down after his crash at the top of the Final.

Photo: Rob Jones

Buhl’s victory looked much like her win at worlds. The American was second out of the gate to a streaking Anneke Beerten (MS-Intense), but Buhl stayed on the Dutchwoman’s heels and then executed a tight pass. Caught out, Beerten hit a rock and suffered a spectacular endo, eventually crossing the line in fourth.

“There were areas where you wanted to be much more aggressive, but you just bogged into the mud and it slowed you down,” Buhl said about the course. “Finally in the fourth corner there was a split line — Anneke took the berm and I took the rock corner and I passed her.”

The race was Buhl’s first event since donning the rainbow jersey. She followed in the footsteps of compatriot Kintner, who won the world title from 2005-07. Kintner is sitting out the 2008 season to prepare for the Olympics.

“What Jill has done in BMX this year is amazing,” Buhl said. “I think you have to give it to the girls racing Four cross, I think everyone has raised the bar. It will be exciting to see what happens when Jill gets back.”

Mont-Ste-Anne World Cup
Four Cross
Men
1. Rafael Alvarez (Sp), Specialized
2. Roman Saladini (F), Team Sun
3. Guido Tschugg (G), Red Bull
4. Cedric Gracia (F), Commençal

Women
1. Melissa Buhl, KHS
2. Mio Suemasa (Jpn), MS-Intense
3. Fionn Griffiths (GB), Norco
4. Anneke Beerten (Nl), MS-Intense

Photo Gallery

Results

Mont-Ste-Anne World Cup

Four Cross

Men

1. Rafael Alvarez (Sp), Specialized

2. Roman Saladini (F), Team Sun

3. Guido Tschugg (G), Red Bull

4. Cedric Gracia (F), Commençal

Women

1. Melissa Buhl, KHS

2. Mio Suemasa (Jpn), MS-Intense

3. Fionn Griffiths (GB), Norco

4. Anneke Beerten (Nl), MS-Intense