CRANKWORX LES 2 ALPES
3-6 JULY 2014
THE COMPLETE REPORT ON MAIN EVENTS
Crankworx Les 2 Alpes took place July 3–6, 2014 and is the only Crankworx event to take place outside of North America. This event is presented in partnership with the tourist office of Les 2 Alpes and Ayton Concept of France. Crankworx Whistler will take place August 8–17, 2014. Crankworx Whistler is presented by Whistler Blackcomb and the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. For now, let's check out the events that happene
NEIL STEWART EARNS TITLE OF EUROPEAN WHIP CHAMP AT CRANKWORX LES 2 ALPES
17-year-old Rider’s Sideways Style Pushes him to the Top of the Podium at Spank Official European Whip-Off Championship
LES 2 ALPES July 4, 2014 – With massive air and sideways steeze, Neil Stewart (GBR) whipped his way into first place at the Spank Official European Whip-Off Championship at Crankworx Les 2 Alpes. The contest kicked off four days of competition for the third iteration of Crankworx Les 2 Alpes.
After Stewart’s win was announced and the dust settled in the finish corral, the 17-year-old rider was almost at a loss for words, saying he felt amazing but slightly surprised.
“I have no idea why I won. Everyone’s whips were sick.”
While Stewart may not have been able to pinpoint what set him apart, the decision was clear to judges. Crankworx GM Darren Kinnaird, Ayton Concept’s Sebastien Chovet and BMX all-star Alex Dropsy were tasked with determining who consistently combined the biggest air and the sharpest angle. These factors in mind, Stewart sailed above the rest.
“It was the best sideways we saw – really nicely executed and perfect landing,” said Dropsy. “He got it.”
Taking second place was Bernard Kerr (GBR), followed by the reigning the World Whip-Off champ from Whistler in 2013, Bernardo Cruz (BRA). A crowd-favourite, Cruz was throwing down huge whips all evening, but seemed to recognize that his final whip didn’t have what it was going to take, shaking his head as he touched the ground.
The top three distinguished themselves amongst an all-star group of riders in the last 15 minutes of competition – a lineup that included top riders like Cam Zink (USA), Bas Van Steenbergen (CAN) and Andreu Lacondeguy (ESP). In the end, Stewart walked away with a 350€ cheque, and the respect of riders and mountain bike fans around the world.
Whips aside, it was a banner day for the contest, now in it’s second year at Crankworx Les 2 Alpes. Over 100 riders took to the dirt – nearly three times the number that competed last year. Their whips were celebrated by a crowd of over 2000 as the sun set over Les 2 Alpes. Riders and judges say the event’s growth is no surprise.
“I love to whip,” said Lacondeguy, whose whips kept him in the game until the final round. The Crankworx veteran was clearly enjoying himself, throwing in a backflip and a superman for good measure over the course of the evening. “It’s such a fun event. Plus, it’s not like I get to ride in the Alps every day.”
“It’s good to see the guys just hang out and ride together and do some trains and send the best whips they can,” added Dropsy. “Everyone’s just riding for fun.”
Last year in Les 2 Alpes, Kiwi rider Cam Johnson took top spot in the inaugural event. The inspiration for the Les 2 Alpes contest came from Whistler, where the Official Whip-Off World Championships were first introduced as an unsanctioned event by mountain bike photographer Sven Martin. Now Crankworx Whistler holds the contest annually. The whip’s origins are in moto, where riders air and throw the rear of the bike to one side. Announcer Ryan Meyer summed it uphttp://www.flickr.com/photos/crankworx/sets today as: “Not slopestyle, not a race, just based on how sideways you can get.” Go big and drag it out, and a whip champ is born.
The Spank Official European Whip-Off Championship kickstarts four days of competition in the French Alps, getting the third edition of Crankworx Les 2 Alpes off the ground.
CAM ZINK RIDES WITH MOST SPEED AND STYLE TO TAKE FIRST AT EVENT IN LES 2 ALPES
Big Tricks Propel Zink to the Top of the Podium in Crankworx Les 2 Alpes GT Dual Speed & Style
LES 2 ALPES July 4, 2014 – Cam Zink (USA) has proved that he is the master of both speed and style today, claiming top spot in the GT Dual Speed & Style at Crankworx in Les 2 Alpes. The event kicked off the second day of competition in the French Alps.
“I feel great,” said Zink from the finish corral. “Definitely starting off the fourth of July right.”
The American champ wasn’t the only one celebrating both a great performance and the American holiday – second place rider Greg Watts (USA) was all smiles.
“I’m stoked that first and second are Americans on Independence Day,” said Watts of the one and two finish.
Rounding out the top three was Bernard Kerr (GBR) who earned his spot on the podium in a final duel with Adrien Loron (FRA).
Day Two of Crankworx Les 2 Alpes competition brought 16 riders out for the first event of the day – an event about speed, style and smarts.
“This whole contest is so much strategy,” explained Zink, citing the mid-race psychology he used to best his opponents all day. “You know what tricks they have but you don’t know what they’re going to do. In the end though you don’t even have time to be nervous…you’re just strategizing.”
“It’s almost like two different sides of your brain that have to meld together in one run, in like a split second too,” agreed Watts. “You have to be fast and you have to have some good tricks. but it’s also knowing your competitor and really knowing the situation.”
It was this combination of skills that pushed the top riders through the early rounds. The roster of 16 battled against each other in groups of two, narrowing the field in the quarter final down to eight riders: Bernard Kerr and Brendan Howey (CAN), Greg Watts and Sam Reynolds (GBR), Adrien Loron and Quentin Derbier (FRA), and Cam Zink and Mitch Chubey (CAN). As each round moved forward, speed and style were both visibly tighter, as riders fought their way through the course that Watts described as “really fast.”
In the semi-finals it was Kerr and Watts battling to advance, along with Zink and Loron. Watts and Zink both won the style bonus in their respective rounds, earning them each a shot at first.
In the battle for third, Kerr and Loron were neck and neck through most of the course, with Kerr just inching past the French rider near the end of the race. With each winning a bonus for style, it was Kerr who walked away with the last available podium spot.
Zink took the early lead as the two Americans ripped through the course during the Big Final. As they made their way to the bottom, their fate was left to the judges.
“They were pretty close in speed – both really fast,” said head judge Alex Dropsy. “But in the end Cam pulled out bigger tricks on the bonus jumps, and that’s what made the difference.”
Noticeably absent from the field was last year’s King of Speed and Style in both Les 2 Alpes and Whistler, Martin Soderstrom (SWE). Anticipation had been building for Soderstrom’s return to Crankworx competition – the rider sustained a season-ending injury during Red Bull Joyride at Crankworx Whistler last year. He had been rumoured to be competing in today’s event, but after suffering a concussion last week, opted instead to rest ahead of tomorrow’s Crankworx Les 2 Alpes Slopestyle.
The GT Dual Speed & Style has become a favourite amongst riders who appreciate the mix of skills it requires. Winners of head-to-head battles are chosen based on time and jump scores. In Les 2 Alpes, two jumps await riders on each track, with one point per jump up for grabs. Judges determine the winner of each head-to-head “jump-off,” with each point worth a determined amount of time deducted off the rider’s time from that run.
ANTHONY MESSERE TAKES FIRST EVER WIN, TAKING TOP SPOT IN CRANKWORX LES 2 ALPES SLOPESTYLE
Massive Front Flip Tuck No Hander to End Second Run Has Canadian Rider Seeing Diamonds
LES 2 ALPES July 5, 2014 – After a commanding second run, Anthony Messere (CAN) has taken the win at the Crankworx Les 2 Alpes Slopestyle. With a final score of 90.50, Messere’s win makes him the first Diamond Series winner on the Freeride Mountain Bike (FMB) World Series for 2014, and the toast of Crankworx and the mountain bike world.
“The feeling is just insane. It feels like I’m in a dream,” said Messere after the win. “I’m so happy to be here, and I’m so happy to be standing here right now. Everybody absolutely slayed it. And to be up on top with all these other dudes’ runs? Just, wow.”
The 19-year-old’s victory seemed to be solidified after a massive second run that wrapped up with a flawless front flip tuck no hander that had the crowd on its feet.
The win is Messere’s first major win at this level of competition.
Joining Messere on the podium were Thomas Genon (BEL) in second and Sam Reynolds (GBR) in third.
“I’m really stoked on my place, I’m really stoked on Anthony’s place,” said Genon after the awards presentation.
As for Reynolds, the third place finish was a sign of redemption.
“I broke my back here two years ago. Last year I split my stomach open, so I’ve never even made the start line here, let alone the finish line with a run I’m really happy with. I can’t even believe how happy I am, and now I’ve got one of the most prestigious things you can get, a Crankworx medal!”
The diamond day in Les 2 Alpes got underway with more than a few surprises. Martin Soderstrom (SWE) did not compete, after suffering a concussion two weeks ago. Joining him on the sidelines were Greg Watts (USA), Tyler McCaul (USA) and Sam Pilgrim (GBR). Since all the riders participated in training, they will collect injury points that will go toward their FMB standing.
Once competition began though, all focus was on the lineup of 16 riders who came to win in front of a massive crowd – the largest turnout ever for a Crankworx Les 2 Alpes event.
The big story during the first half of the competition was Sam Reynolds – he landed a huge air whip and finished his first run with a big flip whip, earning him the nickname “the dangling man” from announcer Ryan Meyer. The run earned him a score of 80.25, and the top spot on the leader board.
Reynolds was still sitting in first place when the incumbent, Brandon Semenuk, took to the course. Semenuk landed a massive cork 720 mid-run, but unfortunately missed his pedals twice at the end, leaving him in fourth place.
Going into the second half of the event, Anthony Messere kicked things into high gear pretty fast. Riding fourth, after a disappointing first run, Messere stomped trick after trick. He ended it with a huge front flip tuck no hander, edged Reynolds out of first place, and put the pressure on the remaining 12 riders.
“Everything I did is exactly what I planned out…as soon as I landed this last jump I was so excited I couldn’t even see where I was going. It was just stars and black and white.”
What followed was a series of riders who simply could not touch Messere. Cam Zink (USA) landed an amazing backflip superman seat grab but blew a pedal before he crossed the finish line. Logan Peat (CAN) took a nasty looking spill off the side of a feature – he recovered, but ended his first Diamond Series event of the year in ninth place.
Sitting in fifth spot going into his second run, Genon laid it all out on the course.
“I was not really nervous about my ranking. But when I pulled my run I was really stoked about it,” said Genon from the finish corral after finding out he came in second.
But before it could all be decided, some heavy hitters remained.
Semenuk came to play on his last run, landing a huge cork 720, but unfortunately the day was not his. He took a spill on the last feature, leaving the door open for a new champ.
By the time it came for Reynolds, the rider, who had been bumped from first to third by Messere and Genon, opted to play it safe and not take his second run.
“This event haunts me,” he said, referencing his injuries in 2012 and 2013. “Even at the top I was shaking – I felt sick up there.”
Messere takes away an 8500€ prize, the title of champion of the 2014 Crankworx Les 2 Alpes Slopestyle, and a level of stoke that’s likely off the charts.
“I’m insanely stoked. Too stoked to explain how stoked I am.”
There was one other person in Les 2 Alpes whose excitement may have come close to Messere’s.
“I feel so excited. I’m so happy for him – he’s worked really hard,” said Roberta Schram, Messere’s mom, from below the podium. “I’m just shaking right now. I’m so proud.”
The end of competition today wraps the first Diamond Series event on the FMB World Tour. Riders will be looking to Whistler next, where the legends of the mountain biking world will touch down on Saturday, August 16 in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park for the Red Bull Joyride, once again bringing the best slopestyle riders in the world to do battle.
BRENDAN FAIRCLOUGH AND MICAYLA GATTO TAKE FIRST IN THE CRANKWORX LES 2 ALPES PUMP TRACK
Fairclough Claims Top Spot for the Men, While Gatto is Number One in First Year of Women’s
LES 2 ALPES July 6, 2014 – Brendan Fairclough (GBR) asserted his strength and speed tonight, winning the Crankworx Les 2 Alpes Pump Track Challenge presented by RockShox.
“I wasn’t even going to do it because I was pretty tired from the downhill – it’s been a long weekend,” said Fairclough. “But I’m glad, and it’s a good end to the day.”
Fairclough beat out Matt Walker (NZL) in the final to take gold – a rematch, of sorts. Fairclough had been a favourite to win the event in 2013, and faced off against Walker in a semi-final match. Unfortunately Fairclough missed a final lap during the match and incurred a time penalty, leaving the door open for other riders to go for the win. Walker was eventually bested in the finals by Adrien Loron (FRA). Loron put in a strong showing at tonight’s event, but fell in an earlier round to Coco Percier (FRA).
Rounding out the podium tonight was Tomas Lemoine (FRA), who beat his countryman, Percier, in the semi-final face off.
Meanwhile, it was a small field for the ladies, but fierce nonetheless. 2014 marked the first year a separate women’s pump track category joined the schedule of events. After two races, Micayla Gatto (CAN) beat out her competition, Veronique Sandler (NZL).
“It feels pretty good,” said Gatto of the win. “I kind of wish that a few more of the girls made it out, but as long as some of us are out here making some sort of a presence I think it’ll only grow from there.”
The pump track action went down as the sun was setting on a epic day in the Les 2 Alpes bike park. Track conditions were definitely an improvement over the night before – the event had originally been scheduled for Friday night, but heavy rain forced the change. This meant a big crowd, who had gathered for the Crankworx Les 2 Alpes Slopestyle earlier in the afternoon, made their way to the pump track to take in the rollers, berms and jumps of the event as the sun was setting behind the mountains.
This is the second year of the Les 2 Alpes Pump Track Challenge presented by RockShox – a discipline that has been growing in popularity amongst mountain bikers in recent years. Riders who excel at pump track racing are neither downhill specialists nor slopestyle pros – it takes technical skill, endurance and explosive power to master the track of rollers, berms and jumps on flat ground.
LES 2 ALPES July 6, 2014 – At the end of a gnarly day of racing in the French Alps, Gee Atherton (GBR) and Myriam Nicole (FRA) sat atop it all in the Polygon Air DH-iXS European Cup. Atherton’s finish, with a time of 3:35:62, won the men’s elite category, while Nicole topped the women’s podium with a time of 4:06:60.
Atherton’s commanding win, with a time nearly three seconds faster than the second place rider, wraps up his third year of Crankworx Les 2 Alpes with an unbroken record – he’s won the event every year since it came to France.
“That was was the goal this year so I’m very happy,” said Atherton on his way to the podium.
Accompanying Atherton on the podium was Guillaume Cauvin (FRA) in second with a time of 3:38:03 and Brendan Fairclough (GBR) with a time of 3:38:52.
Making it to the finish line, let alone the podium, was certainly no easy feat for the riders on this notoriously unforgiving course.
“It was tough,” said Atherton. “It was changing, it was getting rougher, the wind picked up a bit this afternoon so it was kind of unpredictable. But a good one to race, you know. It’s really physical and technical in places. I think it challenged all the riders really.”
This was certainly the case when it came down to the final 10 racers. Alex Bond (GBR) took a big spill during his run – the race was halted while medical crews attended the scene. He was transported off the course awake, but with an injured shoulder.
When racing got back underway, Fairclough quickly took the lead from Thibaut Ruffin (FRA). The hot seat was not his for long, as Cauvin charged through the course to take first. The two remained in the top two spots until the number one ranking rider, Atherton, ploughed through the course for the victory.
Earlier in the day, French rider Myriam Nicole took the first elite win of the day during the women’s final.
“I’m really happy,” said an elated Nicole. “It’s crazy. Crankworx, you know – winning this race is just huge, so I’m happy.”
As in the men’s race, the fastest run of the day was the last. Tahnee Seagrave (GBR) was sitting in first when Tracey Hannah (AUS) stormed the course with a massive run, besting Seagrave’s time by over 12 seconds, for a final time of 4:09:31. But, riding through last, Nicole managed to pull off the big win, despite some difficulties.
“It was a bit dangerous with the wind, so it was a bit scary,” Nicole said of the conditions, which were a challenge for many of today’s riders. “I also had a little crash but I still won so I’m feeling confident for the next races.”
Today’s race marked the first time the Crankworx Les 2 Alpes joined the iXS European Downhill Cup circuit, the only French portion of Europe’s premier race series.
1. Myriam Nicole
2. Tracey Hannah
3. Tahnee Seagrave
1. Gee Atherton
2. Guillaume Cauvin
3. Brendan Fairclough
PHOTOS, VIDEOS AND RESULTS
More photos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/crankworx/sets
Online Results: www.crankworx.com/les2alpes/en/results/2014
Keep up to date with our daily highlight videos on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/CrankworxHQ
Stay tune for more Crankworx actions from Whistler this August 8 – 17, 2014! Mean time, ride and jump guys!
Photos used with permission from Crankworx