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Big air in Paris

Pics: David Ulrich

The five-event Qashqai Urban Challenge series has drawn to a close with the Big Air event in Paris. Going into the series finale, Darren Berrecloth and Paul Basagoitia were very close on points, so the Paris event would be the decider.

Rain kept the riders from putting on a show during the first day, but day two was packed with action all day long for the Qashqai fans. The riders took advantage of the dry weather to impress the spectators with huge jumps and amazing tricks.

The riders began the day early with a lengthy practice session to get used to the big jumps. The course began with a super-sized roll-in to a 35ft jump, followed by another booter with a 22ft gap. The course ended with a big quarterpipe wall for the riders to blast at the end of their runs.

Greg Watts was the first rider to dial in the jumps during practice and he kept his composure all day during the event. Watts was the first rider to flip the second jump, and consistently performed in both qualifying and final rounds.

Lance McDermott was one of the riders in the qualifying who had a shot at winning the overall, but was not able to make the final after crashing in both runs while he attempted his trademark front flip on an FS bike.

The qualifying rounds started before noon and Cameron McCaul was on his game. He stretched out an indian air and then did a barspin to no-foot can on the second jump. Cam’s run was good enough to qualify first for the final. Watts followed in similar style with a suicide no-hander and then a backflip x-up.

The riders took a short break for lunch and then mounted their bikes for the final two runs of the Paris event, and the Qashqai Urban Challenge series. Bearclaw and Paul Basagoitia were the only two left in the finals with a shot at the overall title, and everyone appeared more focused on who would take the overall win (and 50,000 euros) than the win in Paris.

Kyle Strait was the first rider in the finals and he set the bar high. Kyle launched a huge inverted table on the first jump, then followed it with an amazing double tailwhip. He landed the trick with one foot off the pedal, but still went fast enough towards the quarter wall, where he boosted a huge alley-oop invert.

Greg Watts kept the level high, flipping the first jump and then going into a stretched out indian air on the second jump. Riders and fans alike were cheering their loudest for Greg’s run, which was considered to be one of the best runs of the day.

All eyes were on Paul Basagoitia and Darren Berrecloth as they climbed to the top of the roll-in tower. Paul was the first to ride, and he started his run with a huge backflip over the 35ft gap and continued with a table one foot to x-up on the second. Paul blasted the quarter wall super high.

Berrecloth was next on the starting ramp and he knew that he would have to come up with something amazing. He rolled into the course to the sound of thousands of screaming fans and stretched out his trademark indian air on the first gap. He hit the second booter with enough speed and control to spin a 360 one-footed table. Bearclaw wrapped his first final run by boosting out of the quarter wall with real big air. It was obvious that the €50,000 overall prize money was motivating both riders to perform in Paris.

The final round of the last stop of the Qashqai tour attempted to push the level of riding even higher, but most of the top riders crashed in their attempts to outdo their previous runs. Bearclaw attempted to 360 the first double and opposite 360 the next, but he over-rotated the opposite 360 and crashed in the dirt at the end of the course.

Paul Bas pushed his riding a little bit farther on the second run with a backflip, then a 1-foot table to late table on the second jump. Bearclaw’s first run looked like it was enough to unseat PB from his top overall position.

The judges spent plenty of time sorting out the details for the scoring. The Qashqai Big Air results were announced first: Cameron McCaul in third, Greg Watts second and Darren Berrecloth in first place. With Paul Basagoitia’s Big Air result being unknown, there was much anticipation as to who would be the series winner.

Andreu Lacondeguy took the fifth spot overall, his win in Milan was a huge factor in the overall standings, although he placed well in Newcastle and Madrid as well. Ben Boyko was fourth overall, even though he couldn’t make the Paris finals after being the only rider to attempt the huge drop. Lance McDermott held his position in third place even without making the finals in Paris. McDermott rode consistently at every stop of the tour, winning the Cologne stop of the series along with the best trick contest.

After five events of back-and-forth, Darren Berrecloth was able to edge out Paul Basagoitia by just one point in the overall standings. Paul placed fourth in Paris, which gave Bearclaw the overall win for the first ever Qashqai Urban Challenge series. The first-ever mountain bike freeride series title (and a healthy check for €50,000) was handed over to Darren Berrecloth.


Paris: Big Air

  1. Darren Berrecloth (CAN/Specialized)
  2. Greg Watts (USA/Gary Fisher)
  3. Cameron McCaul (USA/Trek)
  4. Paul Basagoitia (USA/Kona)
  5. Amir Kabbani (GER/Cannondale)
  6. Kyle Strait (USA/Specialized)
  7. Andreu Lacondeguy (ESP/Kona)
  8. Ben Boyko (CAN/Norco)

Overall rankings

  1. Darren Berrecloth 88pts
  2. Paul Basagoitia 87pts
  3. Lance McDermott 69pts
  4. Ben Boyko 56pts
  5. Andreu Lacondeguy 54pts


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