Mike Brown rode like a man possessed today to claim gold in the Men’s Enduro X at X Games Barcelona.
Brown was joined on the podium by Colton Haaker, who earned the silver and Cody Webb, who took the bronze. Webb capitilized on a last-lap crash by X Games Foz do Iguaçu gold medallist Taddy Blazusiak, which saw Taddy drop from a sure second down to fourth.
Brown, 41, who took gold at the Los Angeles X Games last year, had started the day strong, claiming a win over Blazusiak in his heat race at the Montjuic Stadium.
Brown and Blazusiak progressed through to the final along with Max Gerston, Bobby Prochnau and Dani Gibert.
In the second heat race, Colton Haaker took a clear win to book his place in the final, followed by Cody Webb, Kyle Redmond, Cory Graffunder and last year’s Red Bull Hare Scramble winner Jonny Walker.
As the field of 15, including the five who progressed through from the Last Chance Qualifier race, set off, there was carnage over the first log jump, with Walker getting caught in the melee and relegated to the back of the field as Brown claimed the holeshot.
As the pack crossed the line after the first of 10 laps, it was Brown, Blazusiak, Haaker and Webb in fourth.
Despite Blazusiak taking occasional nibbles at Brown’s lead as the front four chased around the tough Barcelona track, Brown was riding on another level, tackling each obstacle with supreme confidence.
Cody Webb had dropped off the leading pack by the time Brown hit the backmarkers on the penultimate lap and it seemed that the podium order was set.
But as the riders were shown the white flag for the final lap, everything changed, as Blazusiak, usually the man to beat in these situations, had a big fall halfway through the lap.
With Webb making it past while Blazusiak remounted, the pair fought hard for what was now the final medal position.
Blazusiak, however, had been badly hurt in the crash and bungled through one of the log sections before charging Webb going into one of the rock sections. Blazusiak came off worse, becoming stuck as Webb pushed on and claimed third, with Blazusiak taking fourth while Jonny Walker could only manage 11th.
“I’m coming off a win in Vegas two weeks ago,” said Brown after the race. “The last few laps were a struggle and Taddy had a misfortune on the last lap that gave me a bit of breathing room. But I felt good all day and my bike felt good too.”
He added: “For sure it feels good [to have a gold medal], especially in the Barcelona Olympic Stadium. You can’t get much better than that.”
In the Women’s Enduro X, X Games Foz do Iguaçu gold medallist Laia Sanz continued her dominance in the competition, overcoming a first-corner crash to take a comfortable win ahead of Maria Forsberg in front of her ecstatic home fans.
“[After the crash] I just wanted to not lose too much time and have a quiet race,” said Sanz afterwards, adding that, “a win here is very special.”
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