Trystan Hart wins Red Bull Tennessee Knockout for second time
Trystan Hart became just the third rider to win the Red Bull Tennessee Knockout by a margin of a little more than one minute over the field.
The streets of Nashville were ablaze Thursday night as Red Bull transformed South Broadway Street into a neon-lit, hard enduro circuit for the 2022 Red Bull Tennessee Knockout (TKO) Prologue.
Sixteen riders came from around the United States and the world to take on the one-of-a-kind event. The course included a series of urban obstacles such as tires, logs, and concrete barriers to mirror the rural circuits on which hard enduro riders usually compete.
Veterans Manuel Lettenbichler and Cody Webb faced each other in the men’s quarter-final with Lettenbichler having the edge by the end of the course. He then advanced through the semifinals and into the final round, where he was ultimately beat by Alfredo Gomez of Spain. Taddy Blazusiak of Poland won the men’s third-place race to complete the podium.
But that was just the appetizer.
The Red Bull TKO Prologue gave the enthralled and rambunctious Nashville crowd a taste of what they would see in the Tennessee mountains. The riders packed up their gear and then headed two hours southeast to Sequatchie County for the three-day TKO main event.
The weekend consisted of qualifying, two knockout races and a multi-lap final. The top 26 qualifiers raced in the knockouts in groups of five, with the best 20 riders making their way to the final.
Hart looked to become only the third rider to win this race twice. Tennessee native Mike Brown won the first two editions.
Webb dominated this race throughout its early history, winning it from 2013 through 2018. Forced to sit out 2019 with a knee injury, it would not be until 2020 that someone beat him on the course. And that someone was Canadian rider Trystan Hart.
Hart was fastest in qualifying and one of only four riders that completed the knockouts in less than an hour - and this success shined a bright spotlight on him during the main.
“I had a bit of pressure coming into the final because I’d won each round (of the TKO), and I just wanted to keep that momentum rolling,” said Hart in a release. “It feels amazing to win. This championship is so competitive, so I’m humbled to be up there with the best of them.”
Hart finished the race one minute, 19.577 seconds ahead of the pack.
Lettenbichler, who won this race in 2019, was fourth quickest in qualifying before finishing second in the final. This is the second year that Lettenbichler was in the runner-up position in the Red Bull Tennessee Knockout after finishing behind Billy Bolt last year. In 2022, he had a much greater obstacle to overcome than the mountain. Lettenbichler was racing injured adding a greater challenge to every bump and turn.
Lettenbichler’s second-place finish brings him to within a point of the championship leader Mario Roman, who finished one back in third, with two rounds of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship remaining.
Wade Young was the only other rider to complete five laps to take the fourth position.
Todor Kabakchiev rounded out the top five.
Ryder LeBlond finished sixth as the highest American-born finisher while Gomez could not match his Thursday night dominance and settled for seventh.
Graham Jarvis in eighth, Webb in ninth and David Cyprian completed the top 10.