K-124 Days 2009 Final
by Ben Swales
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K-124 Days 2009 has just ended, without a doubt the best one yet! Once again, Tribal Zine was closely involved in the event and was there to experience it alongside all of the other participants. and what a weekend it was - more intense than ever before! The biggest news this year was the edition of the new Super Elite category, designed for those extra-terrestrial riders who have been dominating the world of trials - the Coustellier brothers, Hermance and Benito Ros. These top riders were faced with sections of a rarely (never?) seen difficulty. Last year, surely, the level of difficulty of the sections must have reached its peak? But this year, we saw the competition enter a whole other dimension and the leaders of the Elite class have progressed once again! Alain Rémy and the Bike Trial Franc Comtois section planners pushed the World’s best riders to their limits - just getting through a section was a real feat.
Saturday’s weather was clement, despite the forecasts. Cries of astonishment went up as people laid eyes on the sections... In each there were at least two enormous moves, almost impossible for a normal Elite rider to make. Giant hooks of at least two metres, inhuman sidehops - the one in the penultimate section was a good 1m40 and overhanging! There were five sections in total, each to be ridden twice. The sections for Sunday’s competition would be different, but just as difficult. In Saturday’s first round, Gilles Coustellier manages to take the lead with 22 points (testament to the difficulty of the sections) ahead of an on-form Vincent Hermance, just three points behind. Both riders were on the new Koxx Sky, which they received only a week or so before the competition. They were both prototype Grey Skies, which Gilles will be riding from now on, although Vincent will use a Black Sky. Kenny Belaey came in 3rd with 32 points and current 20" World Champion Benito Ros flew through the sections, which seemed more adapted to a 20" than to a 26", and finished just 2 points behind the Belgian. Unlike in 2008, nothing was set in stone after the first round, and Sunday’s competition promised to be very intense indeed! Giacomo Coustellier was forced to retire on Saturday following a physical problem (he was sick during the past week, because a gastro-enteritis and he was really tired), but announced that he would be riding on Sunday all the same. For the organisers, his retirement gets him out of the race. The Elite sections were a bit "easier" than last year, and UK Atomz rider Ben Slinger took the lead with 11 points, ahead of the young Spaniard Abel Mustieles (14) and Rick Koekoek (17). All three gave their all and put in some particularly impressive performances.
The Super Elite sections for Sunday afternoon were even more impressive than Saturdays! They seemed almost insurmountable to most! From the very start of the competition the five Super Elite riders were pushed to their limits. Kenny Belaey attempted to avoid a giant sidehop with a dab on a tree stump, but he missed a flag and received a maximum penalty for his efforts. The riders and organisers alike were in doubt - was it really possible to get through these sections? Benito Ros was the first to prove that nothing is impossible. After the first lap he had just 8 points marked on his card; these sections seemed to suit him a bit more than Saturday’s. Vincent Hermance and Gilles Coustellier found themselves once again at the bottom section and were conferring - this time they’d really have to pull something out of their hats - they had to get through these sections at all costs if they were to stand a chance of winning, Benito was drawing away from them! Gilles nailed the enormous sidehop at the top of the section, crossing the finish amid rapturous applause from an audience who could scarcely believe their eyes. Vincent wasn’t so lucky and picked up a 5 on this section. The World Champion put in another couple of great performances, spurred on by an appreciative and numerous audience. He put in one of the most spectacular and challenging performances of the weekend, finishing with 45 points (of which 23 were from this second round), ahead of Hermance on 56 (31 from the 2nd round), and Benito Ros, with a total of 58 dabs (just 24 from Sunday’s competition!). The rainbow jerseys dominated K-124 Days 20009 - Elite class was won by Junior World Champion Abel Mustieles Garcia, who showed himself to be the most consistent rider of the weekend, with a concentration and determination that belie his young age. In third place after the first day, he conceded just 7 points in Sunday’s competition. Ben Slinger, who was in the lead on Saturday took 14 points on Sunday and was relegated to third place in Elite. Second place went to Morgan Rémy who put in an amazing ride on Sunday with just 2 points! Top Ozonys rider Guillaume Dunand just missed a podium place, he looped out at the exit of the bottom section, falling more than two metres onto his back. Luckily he landed on a bed of sand and escaped unharmed
Below is a best-of collection of the photos from this incredible competition, which took place in the exciting and unique atmosphere only to be found in Buthiers, in the last weekend of March. There were no less than 300 riders registered for the competition, over all of the categories, a figure that just goes to show the size of the festival! A big thanks to all of the K-124 staff (especially to Greg Vollet, Dominique Hermance and Maxime) and to the team at Buthiers, without whom this fabulous weekend and all of the results and media to follow, would not have been possible. Hundreds of photos of the Elite and Super Elite competitions to follow, and, in a few weeks... THE official K-124 Days 2009 video! An HD video filmed with three cameras (Marcus Gelhard, NIcolas Ollier and Nicolas Marsac) equipped with steadycam, that will show all of the highlights of the weekend. It will feature exclusive interviews with Gilles Coustellier, Vincent Hermance and Alain Rémy (all subtitled in English), which were carried out between the two rounds of the competition. While you wait, here’s round up of the best photos from Sunday’s final: