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Scott Beaumont and Dave Richardson both headed out to Houffalize in Belgium for the first stop of the 4X ProTour to take on the world's best. Check out the report here

 

4x Pro Tour - Round 1 - Houffalize on pinkbike.com

 

Word by Scott Beaumont

I'm Just back from the very first 4X ProTour event that was held in Houffalize, Belgium at the weekend. As you all will now know, Chris Roberts and I have organised the 2012 4X ProTour and creating a 5 round series. I have to say, the reward at the weekend, to see it all come together will be etched on my mind forever. What's even better is the event was such a resounding success, we are still buzzing from the whole experience. One of the biggest crowds to ever watch a World 4X event witnessed some fantastic racing and a great start to the new ProTour.

For Yeti Racing UK, it was a frustrating weekend, but full of positives that we can move forward with.

Practice got underway on Friday night after all the riders had our 'Class of 2012' group photo shoot. The track at Houffalize is awesome. Huge corners, rocky, loose surface, a corkscrew bridge/tunnel and some big jumps. Both Dave and myself were riding really well and had the track dialled early. With qualifying straight after the practice session, we were confident and had some good speed, ready for the 'one lap, no crap' qualification.

A major change we have made to qualifying, is we have reversed the order for qualification, so that the fastest riders go last and the atmosphere builds throughout qualifying. This worked fantastically on Friday and the crowd really got behind the riders.

Dave was up first. He made a great start and got his run going well. He said he was a little cautious under the bridge, but apart from that, he rode a clean lap and by the end of qualifying, he had finished in 40th position. His hopes for this race were to qualify firstly but hopefully in the top 50, so for Dave this was a fantastic result. I was seeded as the 6th rider to go from the end. I wanted to qualify in the top 10, but felt like more could be possible. Maybe it was pressure as a rider/organiser now, or maybe just the first race, but I made a decent start, and unfortunately unclipped from my SPD pedals just out of the gate. I then had to roll the first double and lost some time. Quickly getting going again I rode a great lap with no other mistakes crossing the finish line in 4th. With 5 more riders to go, just 2 of them bettered my time and I ended qualifying in 6th. The best bit, just 1 second behind the fastest time. I was left contemplating what could have been, but also psyched on my speed and excited about the race on Saturday.

On Saturday, the weather was again great and the scene was set for a fantastic race. As practice started, there were a lot of spectators lining the track and they kept arriving. By the time racing started, the whole track was lined from start to finish and up to 10 deep in places. It was a true festival atmosphere and one of the biggest crowds I have seen at a 4X in over 10 years of racing. The support the public gave the 4X ProTour was evident to everyone at the event, and it made Chris and myself very proud.

Onto the racing and Dave was up first. From gate 4, he got away with the others but just could not get across on them into turn 1. Forced a little wide, he was in 4th, and to be honest just could not get past the other riders. The 4 of them were locked wheel to wheel, but it was a real stalemate race and he ended up 4th in that race which gave him 51st for the evening. A great start to his series and he will be back for round 2 in Poland in 3 weeks' time.

So I was next up for the team. With 6th in qualifying, I had gate choice for most of the night. In heat 1 I made a great start and led start to finish no problem. In my 2nd round I did exactly the same, great gate, no mistakes and a win from start to finish. This put me into the quarter finals. For this race I was on gate 2 with Joost Wichman inside of me. I made another good gate and battled Joost all the way to the first turn. Going through the first turn I was battling with Joost, but left the inside door slightly open and Joost's team mate Patrik Bruckner dived inside and just got ahead of me. His momentum though took us both off the track. We got going again but I was in 4th and a way behind the other 3 riders. I caught them up again but could not get past them. So it was out in the quarter finals for me and 12th position.

I am gutted with the result if I am honest because I was riding at my best and 12th does not do my riding justice.

However the great news is the next round is just 3 weeks away and we will both be there fighting for it again in Poland for Round 2 of the 4X ProTour.

Before then we have the 2nd round of the Schwalbe British 4X Series at Penshurst in Kent.

Qualifying:

Scott Beaumont 6th

Dave Richardson 40th

Race:

Scott Beaumont 12th

Dave Richardson 51st

Photo Credits - Chris Roberts and Charles Robertson.

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