By Ari Cheren, VeloNews Correspondent
Under darkness of night and illuminated by the bright lights of this World Cup slope, American Mike King (Haro-Lee Dungarees) won round 2 of the new 4x World Cup series in Maribor, Slovenia. King’s win, his major victory since 1996, showed that he still has the goods when it comes to head-to-head racing. On the women’s side, Anne-Caroline Chausson (Volvo-Cannondale) captured her second win in as many weeks.
Beating perennial favorite Brian Lopes (Fox-GT), King used his years of BMX, downhill and dual racing experience to take the lead away from the world champion in turn one, then hold it for the remainder of the 30-second course.
“I knew I was strong out of the gate, and I also knew it would be a drag race,” said King afterward. “The big thing for me is that I beat Brian, whom I’ve been racing for years.”
King had a tough draw in the men’s final, going up against not only Lopes, but also Steve Peat (Orange) and teammate Kirt Voreis (Haro-Lee Dungarees). With a long and bumpy straight-away that dropped into a hard, high-banked right hand turn, Maribor’s course demanded a strong start and nerves of steel.
“Mike made a good move and we battled into that first turn,” said Lopes after he finished second just ahead of Peat. “He got inside me, then I crashed trying to catch up to him again.”
Lopes hit the dirt with Peat and Voreis behind him, and managed to remain in second place at the finish. “It was a war zone up there,” said Peat.
There were plenty of crashes in the 4x, an event livened by several thousand spectators, a live DJ, and a sexy “Miss Bicycle” contest after the race.
The wildest round came in heat 25, when Peat went up against fellow Brits Scott Beaumont (Kona) and Will Longden, and last week’s winner, Cedric Gracia (Volvo-Cannondale). In that run Beaumont crashed out hard near the top, and was later taken away by medics. Then, near the bottom, Gracia and Peat crashed into each other, with Peat scrambling to finish second.
The women’s final was less dramatic, with Chausson qualifying fastest and then winning both of her heats to arrive in the final run against 15-time dual winner Katrina Miller (Jamis). They were joined by 2001 world’s bronze medallist Tara Llanes (Yeti-Pearl Izumi) and second-place finisher from last week, Sabrina Jonnier (Intense).
But the final run was quickly sorted out, as Chausson took the inside lane, the early lead and a clear win over her chasers, flying over the large gap jump near the finish to remain perfect for the season thus far. With last week’s difficult win behind her, one in which she said she was afraid to even jump after having crashed, Saturday’s win put the champ in good mental form for Sunday’s downhill finals.
TISSOT-UCI WORLD CUP;
FOUR-CROSS/DOWNHILL NO. 2;
MARIBOR, SLOVENIA, 8-9; FOUR-CROSS; Men; 1. Mike King (USA), Haro-Lee Dungarees; 2. Brian Lopes (USA), Fox-GT; 3. Steve Peat (GB), Orange; 4. Kirt Voreis (USA), Haro-Lee Dungarees; 5. Mickael Deldycke (F), Fiat Rotwild; 6. Will Longden (GB); 7. Dale Holmes (GB); 8. Wade Bootes (Aus), Trek-Volkswagen; 9. Scott Beaumont (GB), Kona; 10. Nigel Page (GB); Women; 1. Anne-Caroline Chausson (F), Volvo-Cannondale; 2. Katrina Miller (Aus), Jamis; 3. Sabrina Jonnier (F), Intense Cycles; 4. Tara Llanes (USA), Yeti-Pearl Izumi; 5. Celine Gros (F), Morzine Avoriaz; 6. Vanessa Quin (NZ), Intense; 7. Fionn Griffiths (GB), Ancillotti-UK; 8. April Lawyer (USA), Maxxis; 9. Melissa Buhl (USA); 10. Diana Marggraff (Ecu)