Despite rain and cold temperatures, the third round of the four-cross World Cup in Leogang, Austria produced some of the most exciting racing of the season. Jared Graves (Yeti-Fox Shox) was the class of the field, taking the men’s title with ease.
After a lapse of concentration last weekend at round two in Fort William, Scotland, where Graves missed the final, the Australian was eager to reassert his dominance of the men’s field, and did so with authority in Leogang. Graves qualified first, and advanced through the first four rounds with ease, snatching the holeshot in every heat, and extending his lead on every section of the course.
Switzerland’s David Graf continues to improve at every race and joined Graves for the final from their half of the draw, from a hard-fought semi-final containing round two winner Roger Rinderknecht and Romain Saladini.
From the other half of the field, former World Cup champion Michal Prokop was equally strong to advance, while world champion Thomas Slavik (RSP 4 Cross) took the final spot for the final.
In the final, it was Graves in the front from the start to the finish, while a tremendous battle was being fought behind him. Prokop grabbed second place into the first corner, but Graf made a daring move by taking a little-used second line through the middle of the course, which paid off and allowed him to overtake Prokop for second, while Slavik did the same to take third. Round two winner Rinderknecht won the small final for fifth.
“I had my worst race in about three years last week in Fort William, so to get the win back was exactly what I hoped for,” said Graves. “I just tried to ride like I did in practice, not do anything too silly. When you’re in that race frame of mind, you just let it go. I tried to hold everyone up a bit [coming into the first corner] to try and stop that ‘high-low’ move, and I think that worked really well. That was a good tactic, and I’m happy with it.”
Graves now leads the men’s standings with 300 points. He’s 50 points ahead of Graf, while Rinderknecht and Prokop are tied at 100 points in arrears.
This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.