Reigning four cross world champion Jared Graves recorded his second World Cup victory of the year at Fort William in the Scottish Highlands this weekend, further strengthening his lead at the top of the 2010 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup standings.
As the countdown continues to August's 2010 UCI World Mountain Bike Championships in Canada, the 27-year-old Queenslander lived up to his reputation as the world number one by comfortably defeating Joost Wichman, Michal Prokop and Romain Saladini in Saturday's final.
In uncharacteristically warm and dry conditions, the course was dusty and loose, causing numerous washouts in the corners. A new rock garden through the middle section of the course added a new element of difficulty.
The final saw Graves once again shoot to the front out of the gate, closely followed by Prokop, who managed to squeeze in ahead of Wichman before the first corner. However, Wichman fought back, with an impressive inside pass on the third corner to take the second spot behind a disappearing Graves, who continued to extend his lead. Graves easily held on to secure his third consecutive win on the Fort William course, while Wichman managed to hold off Prokop for second.
"The corners were getting bad," said Graves, "so I was pretty much worried the whole way down.
"I'm so happy to get the win. It was a sketchy start (to the final). I was banging elbows with Joost, and I thought we might both go down. He certainly kept me honest."
On track for back-to-back UCI World Cup titles, Graves has a commanding lead in the series standings with 350 points, followed by Wichman (225 points) and Slavik (150 points) in third.
The next four cross (and downhill) World Cup will take place on June 19-20 in Leogang, Austria.