The third round of the 2023 4X ProTour took place in Val Di Sole, Italy at the weekend. Held as part of the UCI World Cup weekend, this event attracts thousands of fans who flock to Val Di Sole to watch 4X ProTour and the World Cup disciplines of DH and XC.
The track in Val Di Sole is incredible. Built for the 4X World Championships in 2008 the track has stood the test of time, only receiving some minor updates in the last 15 years. It is one of the best tracks on the circuit and certainly always provides entertainment. Huge corners, massive jumps and a big rock garden litter this 45 second long track to test the best in the world.
Thursday – Qualifying:
Practice was busy, as riders only had an hour to master this technical track. It was super dry after weeks without rain. The sun was shining, and the track was absolutely perfect and riders were looking faster than ever. The format for this year’s race was qualifying on Thursday night and finals on Friday night. With the schedule fitting around DH, it was great to see some DH riders entered.
After practice it was qualifying. With just one lap to qualify into the main event, the pressure was on all the riders to have a smooth but aggressive lap.
In the elite women’s qualifying, it was an amazing ride from Ramona Kupferschmied who crossed the finish line in a time of 51.052, 0.6 seconds ahead of Yolanda Kiener in 2nd and Louse-Anna Ferguson in 3rd.
In elite men’s qualifying, it was going to be tight. Every rider was looking for a perfect run but the fast track this year was tricky and catching a few riders out. At the sharp end, it was defending 4X ProTour Champion Tomas Slavik from Czech Republic who had a perfect run to take the fastest time with a 43.438 ahead of Janis Lehmann, Stefan Dolphin, Scott Beaumont and Erik Emerich. 5 nationalities in the top 5 (Czech Republic, Suisse, Italian, British and German) and separated by 1 second.
Friday – Race:
As normal the crowds flocked to Val Di Sole for the 4X. Thousands of fans with chainsaws, flares, horns and old frames being beaten with metal. Anything that made noise was trackside. The atmosphere was electric. The best it has ever been.
At 21.00 the gate dropped and the nights racing got underway. In the first round of racing the top 16 riders basically transferred through to the quarter finals with no shock results, but that all changed in the Quarter final when 4X ProTour overall series leader Gustaw Dadela went out. Up against the Italian pairing of Stefano Dolphin and Roberto Cristofoli, Dadela was unable to get into a transfer position and his night was ended early. Fifth qualifier Eric Emerich also went out in the quarter final after a first turn crash.
The downhillers who raced were doing ok, but in the semi finals the heat was turned up by the 4X guys. In semi Final 1, 4X GOAT Tomas Slavik and the godfather of 4X, Scott Beaumont got the job done, outsmarting Thibault Laly and Tomas Brozik to book their places in the final.
In semi final 2, it was local hero Stefano Dolfin who took the win to the delight of the Italian crowds from Janis Lehmann, knocking out Noel Niederburger and Roberto Cristofoli.
Onto the final and the women stepped up to the gate. The times in qualifying had been tight and no one was sure which way this race would go. In her first ever 4X race, Yolanda Kiener grabbed the holeshot and didn’t look back. She rode like a seasoned pro and took a convincing win ahead of Louise-Anna Ferguson and Ramona Kupferschmied.
Next it was the mens small final. The gate dropped and through the first 2 corners it was hectic. Then Noel Niederburger got himself into the lead and built a small lead. The battle for second was intense all the way, but it was Noel Niederburger from Thibault Laly, Tomas Brozik and Roberto Cristofoli.
The last race of the day was the elite men’s final. Tomas Slavik took gate 1, Janis Lehmann took gate 2, Stefano Dolfin took 4 and Scott Beaumont slotted into 3. The scene was set for a brilliant final. It’s rare that the fastest 4 qualifiers make it to the final but we were in fr a treat tonight with the 4 fastest men lined u to see who would win.
As the gate dropped, it was Beaumont with the initial jump out of the gate, but he couldn’t get across from 3. Slavik went inside and took the lead, Lehmann took Beaumont wide and slid allowing Dolfin to move into 2nd. Beaumont drew level on the 3rd straight with Dolfin but couldn’t make the move stick. He then lost speed and Lehmann was all over him. Down the pro straight Slavik had checked out, Dolfin was comfortable, but the battle was for third. Beaumont was in defending mode and Lehmann was trying everything to get through. Then the move came in the rocks when he forced his way through on the inside.
Across the finish line it was Slavik, Dolfin, Lehmann and Beaumont.
After the race an impressive podium was held and the awards were given out to the winners.
We just wanted to add that this was one of the best 4X races in the history of the sport. The track was the best it has ever been, the crowd was simply crazy and the riders put on an incredible show. Thank you Val Di Sole.
The next stop of the 2023 4X ProTour will take place in 2 weeks, on July 14th/15th at JBC Bikepark in Czech Republic, home of pro rider Tomas Slavik. This race will be a 10 year celebration of JBC 4X Revelations and Tomas has built his track even bigger than ever. We can’t wait to see that race unfold.
1. Yolanda Kiener
2. Louise-Anna Ferguson
3. Ramona Kupferschmied
1. Tomas Slavik
2. Stefano Dolfin
3. Janis Lehmann
4. Scott Beaumont
5. Noel Niederburger
That’s it from Val Di Sole. Incredible racing and huge crowds. Thank you to the organising committee at Val Di Sole for another amazing 4X ProTour race. This venue has the heart of all 4X riders and fans. See you again in 2024.
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Photo Credits: Charles Robertson