Photo: GCL / Stefano Grasso
The St Tropez Pirates charged into pole position during the first round of the Global Champions League of Monaco. Best friends Simon Delestre and Jerome Guery produced a foot-perfect double clear in one of the smallest and technical arenas, while the battle for the overall Championship rockets up a gear.
Talking about their leading performance today, Jerome Guery of the Pirates said: “It’s a great start. The points are most important tonight, but we’re really happy to go into tomorrow in such a good position”.
An enthusiastic audience cheered on their favourite combinations; alongside famous names such as philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, and Bruce Springsteen, who was on-site to watch daughter Jessica secure the team a double clear on Cynar v. for Shanghai Swans alongside teammate Daniel Deusser.
Hot on St Tropez Pirates' heels are Valkenswaard United, who put in a strong effort to finish fifth today with Janika Sprunger and Alberto Zorzi, but it was a shock result for the heavy-weight Hamburg Diamonds duo after John Whitaker’s Talisman de Mazure napped back towards the in-gate, tumbling the team down to 17th in today’s results.
The crowd was initially lulled into a false sense of security after a number of early relaxed rounds, including Pieter Devos riding Apart for home-team Monaco Aces, Yuri Mansur for Mexico Amigos, and Miami Glory’s Scott Brash on Hello Forever, but it was not long until the riders started to feel the pressure of Luc Musette’s challenging course, and the poles started to come down.
Cascais Charms' Philip Houston was the first to pick up faults, finishing his round with eight, and seemed to set the tone as despite a methodical round, Cristian Kukuk on Colestus finished with four faults for Cannes Stars. Leopold van Austen could not match Madrid in Motion team-mate Gonzalo Anon Suarez’s clear, and took four also.
Despite a skittish round in an earlier event, Christian Ahlmann came back fighting and produced a perfect clear, giving the Mexico Amigos the second double clear of the evening, shooting the team up to third in tonight’s class. The Vienna Eagles followed close behind, with Gregory Wathelet producing the first fastest round for the team before teammate Niels Bruynseels put in another stunning clear to keep the team in second overall.
Tonight’s challenging course, described by some as akin to a “pinball machine” sets the tone for tomorrow’s round two showdown. Teammates will be putting their heads together to see tactically who they can put into the smallest arena of the League, which at only 24 metres at its widest point and a technically challenging 20 metres as its most narrow, requires strategic riding and quick thinking.
The action kicks off at 17:00 local time, with the competition streamed live via GCL TV and Facebook Live. For the full results of today, please click here.