Wednesday, July 11th, 2018
“Stunning 4th overall for Elliott Heap”
It was a last minute decision to enter Fort William World Cup’s 4x race for Elliott Heap. A bit of fun whilst on a weekend enjoying racing at the Fort William Downhill World Cup. After an awesome 7th place, Elliott received a letter from British Cycling to offer him a place on the 4x World Championship Great Britain team!
Fast forward a few weeks, after winning the latest Enduro World Series U21 race and now leading the u21 series, Elliott headed to Val Di Sol Italy for his second ever 4x event. Elliott was stoked to represent his country at this level and lovely to pull on the Union Jack jersey.
Whilst Elliott lacked the BMX style gate techniques that other racers had honed over years of racing, his on track speed and line choice was exceptional! Without a short travel specialist bike available to him, he used his EWS spec Mega 275c, Which Sram reduced the travel and fitted a short ratio cassette.
Before the races start, Elliott needed to qualify. In practise he had lines dialled and huge on track speed, but a small error in the timed qualifying cost him a lot of time. Luckily enough to still qualify 20th overall, but giving him a difficult draw in the races.
Here is the race low down from Team Manager, Nigel Page
Friday night at 9:15pm the track was packed with excited fans, the floodlights were on and the track looked amazing: the atmosphere was electric.
All the riders were tense as the heats are straight knock out rounds with no second chances.
Following Felix Beckman to a 2nd in the last 16
Elliott was in heat three for his first round and as expected pulled an amazing swoop in the first turn straight into second place and following the current World Champion Felix Bechman to the finish line to transfer to the quarter-finals.
In the quarter finals he did the same move and sat behind Felix again to make it through to the semi-finals!
Now the semi-final is a tense race, once you have made it this far you only have to get top two and you’re in the Worlds Final! But once you get to the semi-finals the competition is tougher with the fastest eight riders in the world going for that final four spots in the finals and a chance of a world title and medals.
Elliott was last going into the first corner as expected but swooped in for his signature move but the first three were jostling for the positions and blocked his move. He didn’t panic and made a pass for third, overtaking veteran UK 4X rider Scott Beaumont for third. The reigning World Champion Felix Bechman was in second but Elliott was chasing him down fast. Felix went for the inside line in the rock garden where he was doing a crazy blind gap jump into the rock garden (the only rider to do this) Elliott went middle, hot on Felix’s heels and the pressure got to Felix, who had a huge crash and Elliott was right there to take the second place and a spot in the Worlds final in only his second ever 4X race. If that isn’t an achievment, then I don’t know what is!
I couldn’t believe it. Elliott stayed super calm and had a chance of a Worlds medal or even the coveted rainbow stripes!
The four riders lined up on the gate for the grand final, the crowd went silent and all you could here was the BMX start automated gate call. “OK riders. Random Start. Riders Ready, watch the gate.” The gate dropped and the crowd erupted into the most amazing atmosphere. By far the most exciting discipline in mountain bike racing.
As expected Elliott was last off the start with all three ex-BMX racers out of the gate like Usain Bolt at the Olympic 100m final. Elliott swooped from the outside to inside and so nearly made the pass on all three riders, if he had been half a bike length closer going into the first turn he would have pulled off the upset of the night! He had to go for it and it so nearly paid off.
Unfortunately it didn’t and he lost all his speed. He got back going and chased the three riders down for a medal position but just hit the big right hand berm after the pro section doubles at a pace his tyres just couldn’t grip and went down! He got up and was fine, a bit sore a bruised but what an achievement!
CONGRATULATION’S FROM US ALL AT NUKEPROOF ELLIOTT!
Photos: Boris Beyer