Red Bull X-Fighters Istanbul canceled

The third stop of the 2012 Red Bull X-Fighters International Freestyle Motocross world tour was canceled Saturday because of heavy winds at the venue at Kazli├žesme Square in Istanbul, reducing the 2012 tour from six stops to five. Qualifying rounds on Friday were also canceled because of the weather.

"The No. 1 priority for us is the safety of the athletes," explained Red Bull X-Fighters sports director [and frequent ESPN.com contributor] Tes Sewell, in an official statement on Saturday. "What the 12 best FMX riders do takes an incredible amount of skill and precision and it can be very dangerous when it goes wrong. For all of us it's disappointing not to be able to give the Turkish fans the pinnacle of this sport and show them the highest level of freestyle motocross."

The event would have marked the first time an X-Fighters event had been held in Turkey, but gusts of wind measured at up to 45 kph forced delays all weekend and the eventual cancellation.

"At this level of competition you do not have any room for mistakes," Sewell explained. "If your motorcycle is blowing off the course it may cause you to land sideways or not get the wheels down. And if you're detached from the motorcycle and it gets blown, then you might not be able to get back to it. So wind is a huge factor."

Tour standings remain unchanged after the cancellation: U.S. rider Todd Potter [135] holds a thin lead over New Zealand's Levi Sherwood [130] and Chilean rider Javier Villegas [120] in the overall rankings. The $1 million series continues July 20 in Madrid, Spain, with the 10-year anniversary of X-Fighters competition at Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, a historic bullring that has been an iconic signature stop on the tour since 2002. The action moves Aug. 11 to Olympic Stadium in Munich, Germany, and concludes Oct. 6 at Cockatoo Island in Sydney, Australia.