Tom Pagès of France threw down the gauntlet in Qualifying at the Red Bull X-Fighters stop in Madrid on Thursday with a heart-stopping victory over World Tour leader Clinton Moore of Australia. Defending champion Josh Sheehan survives scare with crash at end of Double Flip.
Hungry for a record-breaking third straight victory in the cradle of freestyle motocross, Pagès put in a brilliant performance in Qualifying in Madrid that left his rivals shaking their heads in awe – and possibly shaking in their boots with fear as well. The Frenchman was on fire in the Las Ventas bullring, with crowd-pleasing jumps of up to 15 meters in height and 30 meters in distance. Awarded 85.80 points by the judges in his first of two Qualifying runs, Pagès finished more than a full-point ahead of New Zealand's Levi Sherwood in second place (84.70) with Moore a distance third (84.10).
Pagès, who has pushed the boundaries of FMX in recent years with ever-more-daring tricks, was flawless with his Alley-oop jump, his Volt, the Special Flip and the 360. It was only when he attempted a fourth extremely difficult jump on his Qualifying run, the Bike Flip, that it almost went all wrong. But Pagès managed to grab the seat of his flipping motorcycle with one hand just in time and got back on the seat only a split second before what turned out to be a very hard landing.
"I want to do well in Madrid and have practiced hard for this -- it's a special event for me and the most important event of the year," said Pagès, the 2013 World Tour winner who is a close second overall this year to Moore after the Australian won the first two stops in Mexico City and Athens.
Pagès, a perennial favorite of the knowledgeable Madrid crowd because of his fearlessness and creativity, is aiming to become the first rider ever to win the most important stop on the FMX calendar three straight years, a feat that not even the legendary Travis Pastrana (USA) managed as the American only managed to get his three wins here spread over four years between 2004 and 2007.
Sherwood, who won in Madrid in 2012 en route to winning the World Tour, may turn out to be his toughest challenger in Friday's competition, was also close to perfection. He nailed his Flair and Superman Transfer Flip in his second Qualifying run while Moore was also stronger in his second run, scoring well with his Flair, Bundy and Volt. Sheehan had a powerful run going with his Indy Flair but he crashed on top of the dirt pile at the end of the Double Backflip. Sheehan bounced right back up and brushed himself off.
The 11 riders battled for the top position ahead of the most important Red Bull X-Fighters competition on the freestyle motocross calendar on a track set up in the Las Ventas bullring.
Qualifying Results:1. Tom Pagès (FRA) 85.80 points, 2. Levi Sherwood (NZL) 84.70, 3. Clinton Moore (AUS) 84.10, 4. David Rinaldo (FRA) 83.70, 5. Josh Sheehan (AUS) 83.00, 6. Adam Jones (USA) 81.90, 7. Taka Higashino (JPN) 81.80, 8. Maikel Melero (ESP) 81.70, 9. Rob Adelberg (AUS) 81.60, 10. Javier Villegas (CHI) 80.20, 11. Rémi Bizouard (FRA) 68.10, 12. Dany Torres (ESP) 0.0
Watch Red Bull X-Fighters Spain LIVE!
Broadcast: We will stream the entire competition LIVE on redbullxfighters.com and Red Bull TV will broadcast from the Quarter Finals on. Red Bull TV is available on connected TVs, gaming consoles, mobile devices and more. For a full list of supported devices visit about.redbull.tv.
Please note that the broadcast is geo-blocked in the USA, but will be shown exclusively on Fox Sports 1 Sunday, July 19th at 9am ET.
Start Times: 10:00 pm CET on redbullxfighters.com with exclusive Round 1 coverage | 10:30 pm CET on
July 10: Europe: 10:00pm (CET) | Canada: 01:00pm (PST) | Mexico: 03:00pm (CST) | Brasil: 05:00pm (BRT)
July 11: Japan: 05:00am (JST) | Australia: 06:00am (AEST) | New Zealand: 08.00am (NZST)
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