Maikel Melero takes maiden NIGHT of the JUMPs win

Maikel Melero On Friday night, the Czech Republic made its return to the FIM Freestyle MX World Championship fixture list after a one-year absence.

The ninth round of the 2013 FIM Freestyle MX World Championship was contested in the framework of the Liberec NIGHT of the JUMPs. Among the eleven-strong line-up was reigning world champion Remi Bizouard making his comeback after a long injury-induced lay-off. Unfortunately, the return seems to have been premature, because after performing a single Switchblade, he turned and rode out of the arena.

In the hunt for a place among the final six were the Czech Republic’s four finest freestylers in the shape of Frantisek Maca, Martin Koren, Petr Pilat and Libor Podmol. The countries two top riders – Podmol and Pilat – not only made it through the qualifying stage but did so with the former world champion leading the way. They were joined by the French duo of Brice Izzo and David Rinaldo and by Rob Adelberg from Australia. Despite making an error in his double-up flip, Maikel Melero ( ESP) squeezed through in sixth place.

The Maxxis Best Whip interlude kept the atmosphere electric as six riders went head to head for the win. Jose Miralles performed a series of spectacular whips to take the trophy ahead of Massimo Bianconcini.

The local fans were delighted by the prospect of two Czechs against the Rest of the World. Petr Pilat had staged his best NIGHT of the JUMPs run of the season in the preliminary round, pulling off his first ever Seatgrab Flip. In the final, however, he seemed to wilt under the pressure, making a number of errors that condemned him to sixth place.

Brice Izzo reeled off his run in customary professional style, including a Tsunami Flip, but the judges rated it only worthy of fifth. Rob Adelberg fared better, repeating exactly the same run with which he had won NIGHT of the JUMPs in Riga, but this time, his Tsunami Flip, Cliffhanger Flip and 360-style Underflip were deemed worthy only of the third podium spot.

Next up was the showdown between World Championship rivals David Rinaldo and Libor Podmol. Having let himself down badly in Riga, Rinaldo came back strongly with a One-Hand Take-Off to Seatgrab Flip over the Kicker Ramp, a Lazyflip, a MaseTwist combo and Doublegrab Flip. Podmol countered with a Cliffhanger Flip, a Tsunami Flip and an Underflip Seatgrab Indy combo. After ten tricks, he was well ahead, but roared on by fans willing him to win, he botched his landing in the double-up and crashed out. This demoted him to fourth place.

But even that was not enough to put Rinaldo in the hot seat, because Maikel Melero managed to turn P6 in qualifying into victory on the night. Melero’s perfect Doublegrab Flip and brand-new JetSki to Tsunami combo were decisive in securing him a maiden win in the NIGHT of the JUMPs series.

In the chase for the FIM Freestyle MX World Championship title, David Rinaldo has once again edged back into the lead. The Frenchman tops the championship table by a one-point margin over Libor Podmol. This means that he now has his fate in his own hands, needing only to finish ahead of his closest rival in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia to see himself crowned as the 2013 world champion.

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