Bearclaw wins Big Air in Paris and the overall Qashqai title

One of the largest crowds of the event series gathered in La Villette for the series finale. Darren Berrecloth and Paul Basagoitia were locked in a tight battle for first place, and the Paris results would decide once and for all who would be the overall Qashqai champion.

Rain kept the riders from putting on a show during the first day of the Big Air event in Paris, 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, finalizing the five-event series that toured the athletes all around Europe.

The riders began the day early with a lengthy practice session to get acclimated to the big jumps. The course began with a super-sized roll-in, then a 10 meter (35ft.) jump, followed by another booter with a 7 meter (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 consistantly 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 to front flip his full-suspension 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.
The Finals runs of the Big Air in Paris – 2 runs – the best run counts!

Kyle Strait was the first rider in the finals and he set the bar high for the last round of the Qashqai Urban Challenge. Kyle launched a huge inverted table on the first jump, then followed it with an amazing double tailwhip on his Specialized SX! 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 riding level high by 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 out of the two 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, over the heads of the cameramen on the deck of the ramp!

Bearclaw was next on the starting ramp and he knew that he would have to come up with something amazing if he was going to “claw“ his way ahead of Paul Basagoitia for the overall win. He rolled into the Paris course to the sound of thousands of screaming fans and stretched out his trademark indian air on the first gap! He landed it perfect enough to 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 euros 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 unfortunately most of the top riders crashed in their attempts to one-up 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 riders gathered and discussed the runs and deliberated about the judging, all making their guesses for the Paris winner and who would be the overall champion. The judges spent plenty of time sorting out the details for the scoring, and after a short while, the Qashqai promotional people congregated at the top of the landing of the first jump with champagne bottles and checks with over 100,000 euros in prize money to hand out to the winners.

The Qashqai Big Air results were announced first: Cameron McCaul in third, then Greg Watts and Darren Berrecloth in first place. Bearclaw sprayed his champagne all over the riders and celebrated like no one else. When interviewed, Cameron McCaul grabbed the microphone and said, “None of us are good enough at math to figure out who won the overall points standings.“

The riders were quite curious as to the overall results, especially since Paul Basagoitia’s Big Air result was not announced. The Big Air winners rejoined the rest of the riders and patiently waited for the overall results to be announced.

The Qashqai series has spanned five countries of the course of the last two months. The riders have spent lots of time traveling together and have all pushed the sport of mountain biking and each other as riders on the Qashqai tour. Lessons have been learned, passports have been stamped and new tricks have been introduced.

After all this effort, the final results were about to be released, and the entire crowd was anxious to know who would walk away with the check of 50,000 euros. Viewers watched the event live on and thousands of spectators crowded the prize giving area for the final announcement.

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 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 consistantly at every stop of the tour, winning the Cologne stop of the series along with the best trick contest.

The crowd waited with anticipation for the second and first place riders to be announced. Paul Basagoitia and Darren Berrecloth have battled at every stop of the tour, and Paris was no exception. After five events of back-and-forth, Darren Berrecloth was able to edge out Paul Basagoitia by 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 world series title (and a healthy check for 50,000 euros) was handed over to Darren Berrecloth, along with a three liter bottle of champagne.

Bearclaw attempted to celebrate his victory by shaking his huge bottle of champagne, but accidentally broke off the tip of the cork. With a little help from the promotional girls and a pair of scissors, he was eventually able to pry the cork out of the bottle and hose down the entire crew that was standing on the prize-giving platform.

The Qashqai Urban Challenge comes to a close for 2007, but clips from each event can be viewed on Stay tuned for more photos, stories and videos which will be released online, in print magazines and on TV worldwide.

Final Results – 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 – Qashqai Urban Challenge
1. Darren Berrecloth 88pts (CAN) Specialized – 50,000 Euros
2. Paul Basagoitia 87pts (USA) Kona – 25,000 Euros
3. Lance McDermott 69pts (UK) Scott – 15,000 Euros
4. Ben Boyko 56pts (CAN) Norco – 6,000 Euros
5. Andreu Lacondeguy 54pts (ESP) Kona – 4,000 Euros
6. Cameron McCaul 53pts (USA) TREK
7. Greg Watts 42pts (USA) Gary Fisher
8. Darren Pokoj 39pts (AUS) MS Racing – Intense
9. Kyle Strait 30pts (USA) Specialized
10. Benny Korthaus 27pts (GER) Specialized
11. Adam Hauck 27pts (USA) Black Market
12. Amir Kabbani 26pts (GER) Cannondale
13. Jamie Goldman 25pts (USA) Santa Cruz
14. Grant Fielder 21pts (UK) Kona
15. Brandon Semenuk 19pts (CAN) TREK

One of the largest crowds of the event series gathered in La Villette for the series finale. Darren Berrecloth and Paul Basagoitia were locked in a tight battle for first place, and the Paris results would decide once and for all who would be the overall Qashqai champion.

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