Ontario’s Brett Rheeder captured one of the most coveted victories in mountain biking, winning his first Red Bull Rampage title on Friday in Utah.
The Mount Albert, Ontario rider rode a technical and smooth run down the cliffs of Virgin, Utah capped off by a huge backflip drop to earn his 89.66 winning score. “This is my sixth time competing at Red Bull Rampage and my first three years at Red Bull Rampage were tough,” said Rheeder. “I was way out of my element and it took a long time to finally be a contender for the title and it feels unreal.”
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The Canadian becomes the first winner at Rampage’s newest venue, which made it’s debut in 2018. It’s also Rheeder’s first Rampage win after finishing fifth in 2017 and 2014.
Andreu Lacondeguy finished in second behind Rheeder with a high-speed run full of big tricks. It was Lacondeguy’s third Rampage podium finish. The charismatic Spanish rider won the event in 2014 and finished second the following year behind Nelson, B.C.’s Kurt Sorge.
Ethan Nell of nearby Saint George, Utah claimed the final podium position at the thirteenth edition of the big mountain freeride competition. It’s Nell’s second Rampage podium in two years after placing third in 2017.
Tom van Steenbergen once again had a huge impression on the event, throwing a massive flat drop backflip off one of the venue’s many cliff faces. The technically demanding and visually impressive trick helped carry the Okanangan athlete to fourth place and the event’s best trick award. Van Steenbergen made a similar impact last year when he started his final run with an unexpected caveman drop off the courses opening feature.
Last year’s winner, Nelson, B.C.’s Kurt Sorge, finished ninth. After sustaining a neck injury in a crash during training, the defending champion completed just one of the two allowed competition runs. Happy to have made it down that run cleanly, when so many competitors had already crashed before him, Sorge made the call not to go back up the cliffs for a second run.
Other Canadian’s competing in Utah were Graham Aggasiz, who finished 15th, and two-time Red Bull Rampage winner Brandon Semenuk who crashed attempting a cork 720 during both runs to place 16th. Victoria B.C.’s freeride legend Jordie Lunn left his line mid-run, ending the contest tied for 18th.
2018 marks a fourth straight year a Canuck has earned top spot at the freeride contest in Virgin, Utah. Kurt Sorge won in 2017 and 2015, and Brandon Semenuk in 2016. Rheeder’s win is the eighth for a Canadian athlete at the Red Bull event. Wade Simmons won the first ever Red Bull Rampage in 2001, followed by Tyler Klassen in 2002. Semenuk had his first of two wins in 2008 while Sorge, who holds the record for most Red Bull Rampage wins, earned his first of three victories in 2012.