Pagès comes out on top with a record-breaking Red Bull X-Fighters „four-peat“ in Madrid
Tom Pagès came out on top of the 15th edition of the Red Bull X-Fighters in Madrid by winning the event for the fourth time in a row. This was his answer to all discussions about an unlucky qualification, new ramp designs and tricks. On his way to the win, he beat 2015 Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour champion Clinton Moore and the winner of the Madrid qualification Josh Sheehan. An all-new event format set the riding level and pace of the event high as never before.
The new format saw three finalists battling it out in a winner-takes-all Red Bull X-Fighters event 2016. In the final, an intense battle happened between the three past Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour champions Tom Pagès (FRA), Clinton Moore (AUS) and Josh Sheehan (AUS). Sheehan had to go first and rode great, sending some of the biggest tricks of the sport including his trademark Double Backflip into his run. But the 2014 Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour champion made a little mistake on the Indy Flair, when he slid out during the landing. Even though he recovered to continue his run, this opened the door for Pagès and Moore.
Pagès set a sold out Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas on fire when he delivered a run fully packed with his history-making tricks like the Bike Flip, Special Flip and his latest edition the Front Flair. So the pressure was on defending Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour champion Clinton Moore to deliver a clean run. Moore also rode an amazing run without mistakes and performed the Volt body varial as first person in the world off the 30-meter distance ramp. When the dust had settled, Tom Pagès beat his own record of three Madrid wins in a row with a clean sweep, winning five out of five helmets from the judges.
„I am trying to bring new tricks every year, and that is what the people want to see“, stated Pagès after his four-peat. „Back in the day, I was sitting here and the Spanish crowd shouted for Dany Torres, now they shout my name as loud as his, which I thought is impossible here in Spain. I was really stressed coming here with the new tricks. But it all worked out. Madrid is the best place in the world for FMX. It’s incredible. What a place to be!”
Even though he was beaten, Clinton Moore was happy with second place. „I am happy with the whole event. This place here is like the Olympics of FMX. In 2010, I came here and did the first ever Volt in a competition. This year, I did the first ever Volt off the 110-foot ramp in history. Last year, I finished third, this year second, there is only one more spot to go next time.“
Third place finisher Josh Sheehan was happy with rounding out the podium: „I had a lot of pressure coming into this event. After winning the qualification, it released a bit and today just went great besides that little mistake in the finals. I was just glad I could get up again and keep going. The new format is a bit different, but worked out well.“
The semi-finals were held in the classic Red Bull X-Fighters head-to-head format. Levi Sherwood was another thread to win this years edition of the event, but had to go up against the strong Pagès. „I am pretty stoked about my runs, I just did not have what it needed to beat Tom. The new format is interesting, but I figured out it is a lot harder to get to the top compared to the old system. But it is cool.“
Local hero Maikel Melero rounded out the top five after getting beaten by Sheehan in their semi-final match-up. „I am really happy, this event went really good for me and the crowd is awesome. I can’t wait to be back next year! I think I did my best run ever tonight!“
Rob Adelberg was the third semi-finalist, but his night ended against his countryman Moore. „Overall I am happy with the event, I am just disappointed that I did two huge mistakes in my final run. The new format made it a very fast and exciting round of Red Bull X-Fighters.“
The first round saw three groups of four riders. Each rider had a 50-second long run to impress the judges, and the „Roulette Trick“ had to be included in each run. „Novillero“ Tom Robinson was the opening rider and shocked his competition with a world premiere trick, a new variation of a body varial. „I don’t even have a name for it! Since I landed it at this event, the name might end up being related to here.“ Adam Jones stated: „It is a tough job for the judges with only four to five tricks to work with from each rider.“
Group B was probably the toughest of the three groups, seeing later top two finishers Pagès and Moore advance even though David Rinaldo and Dany Torres showed great runs at a very high trick level. In Group C, a strong Taka Higashino and the second „Novillero“ Sebastian Westberg had to call it quits against Maikel Melero and Josh Sheehan. „I rode my best and could not have done anything better“, claimed Taka. For Westberg this was his first ever FMX competition. „It was amazing to ride in front of this crowd, words just can’t describe it.“
Madrid results: 1. Thomas Pagès (FRA), 2. Clinton Moore (AUS), 3. Josh Sheehan (AUS), 4. Levi Sherwood (NZL), 5. Maikel Melero (ESP), 6. Rob Adelberg (AUS), 7. Taka Higashino (JPN), 8. David Rinaldo (FRA), 9. Dany Torres (ESP), 10. Adam Jones (USA), 11. Tom Robinson (AUS), 12. Sebastian Westberg (FIN).
Photos: Joerg Mitter, Sebastian Marko, Predrag Vuckovic, Oscar Carrascosa