Jakub Riha and Anneke Beerten qualify fastest in Houffalize.

The start of the 4X Pro Tour has started with the great support from the organisers of Houffalize XC World Cup.

Just before qualification started under the flood lights at Houffalize a group shot of all the 4x riders was taken to show the rider support for 4X racing.

4xProtur-2012-Rd1
4xProtur-2012-Rd1

The class of 2012.

Qualification for the first ever round of the 4X ProTour in Houffalize, Belgium, threw up some surprises last night with 19 year old Jakub Riha from Czech Republic taking the fastest time from Tomas Slavik and Joost Wichman.

during round 1 of the Schwalbe 4X Pro tour
during round 1 of the Schwalbe 4X Pro tour

In a qualifying session which took place under floodlights on Friday evening, only 2 seconds separated the top 15 riders in the men's category. It wasn't all celebrations though. Czech rider Adam Stasek and USA's Blake Carney suffered punctures and unfortunately did not qualify for the main event on Saturday night. The rocky and loose track claimed a few riders with punctures.

during round 1 of the Schwalbe 4X Pro tour
during round 1 of the Schwalbe 4X Pro tour

In the women's qualifying, World Champion Anneke Beerten took the fastest time, showing all the other women she is ready to defend her World number 1 ranking in 2012. French rider Celine Gros finished second ahead of Britain's Katy Curd.

during round 1 of the Schwalbe 4X Pro tour
during round 1 of the Schwalbe 4X Pro tour

Photos: Charles Robertson

Racing takes place this evening at 20.00 with a huge crowd expected and a weather forecast of dry weather should lead to a great night and a fantastic start to the new 4X ProTour.

Check back for full results from the racing later this evening and video programme online next week.

Women Elite

1st Anneke Beerten

2nd Celine Gros

3rd Katy Curd

Click for 4X womens qualifications 2012

Men Elite

1st Jakub Riha

2nd Tomas Slavik

3rd Joost Wichman

Click for mens 4x qualifications 2012