By Andrew Hood
There was nearly a French revolution in Saturday’s 4-Cross after riders threatened to protest the second round of the World Cup against what they deemed an unimaginative course and called it little more than a shortened downhill course.
While the riders decided to race, many weren’t happy with the Alpe d’Huez course that featured few jumps, berms and other features that are supposed to make 4-Cross so exciting.
“Especially in the dry, the course was really bad,” said men’s winner Eric Carter (Mongoose-Hyundai). “This was like a ski race. Every right hand turn was the same, every left hand turn had a jump right before it. There was no creativity. It was a little frustrating.”
And the riders were grumbling left and right.
Greg Minnaar, winner of the first round who got bumped out early, wore a sticker on his back: “Is This 4 X?”
“I decided to ride my downhill bike because the course was really just a small downhill course,” said women’s winner Tracy Moseley (Kona Clarks). “I think there needs to be a discussion about exactly what a 4-Cross course should be.”
Moseley, in fact, never races 4-Cross but decided to start because the course was little more than a string of high-speed turns. She passed perennial favorite Katrina Miller in the bottom flats to snag the win.
Cedric Gracia (Siemens Mobile-Cannondale) and Anne-Caroline Chausson (Commencal) were both fastest in their respective qualifiers. Chausson, however, got bumped in the first round, perhaps the only time the defending world champion has been bumped so early.
“This is the only World Cup race I am doing this year,” Chausson said. “I will only be racing in the world championships and a few other events in France. Perhaps I wasn’t as sharp as I needed to be. I hope to do better tomorrow.”
The complaints weren’t the only glitch. The start was delayed because of problems with a downed chairlift. Then it started rain, sending the few hundred spectators scampering for cover. Then the electricity went out and the finish-line hot-air gate drooped to the ground after losing pressure.
Alpe d’Huez, of course, is famous for its rich history in road racing, including 17 Tour de France stages which have ended atop the famed 21 “lacets,” or switchbacks. The Tour returns again this year, but this weekend the attention was on all fat tires.
There’s a full weekend of racing, including Saturday’s 4-Cross and Sunday’s World Cup downhill. On Monday, the UCI hosts the Mountain Bike Marathon World Series, a demanding 92km race between Les Deux Alpes, crossing over Plateau d’Emparis and Alpe d’Huez before finishing in Bourg d’Oisans on the valley floor. The event will help determine the start order for the inaugural world champion event in Lugano, Switzerland.
Results, Round 2, World Cup 4-Cross, Alpe d’Huez
1. Eric Carter (USA), Mongoose-Hyundai, 50 points
2. Michal Prokop (Cze), 40
3. Scott Beaumont (GBr), 30
4. Cedric Gracia (F), Siemens Mobile-Cannondale, 25Overall standings after two rounds
1. Carter, 90 points
2. Prokop, 65
3. Greg Minnaar (RSA), 50
4. Beaumont, 36
5. Gracia, 30Women
1. Tracy Moseley (GBr), Kona Clarks, 50 points
2. Katrina Miller (Aus), 40
3. Sabrina Jonnier (F), 30
4. Tara Llanes (USA), 20Overall standings after two rounds
1. Miller, 90 points
2. Moseley, 50
3. Jonnier, 40
4. Llanes, 40
5. Moi Suemasa (Japan) Trek-Volkswagen, 40