EVENT: CRANKWORX WORLD TOUR 2015
FRANCE AGAINST THE WORLD IN LES 2 ALPES
Wanna see something new and fun for this coming Crankworx World Tour 2015 Les 2 Alpes? How about watching the riders battling it out in 2 teams? Read on for the details.
AN UNOFFICIAL CHALLENGE!
To spice up the coming Crankworx Les 2 Alpes, the organizers had came up with an unofficial "war" of French riders vs the rest of the world's riders! Both team has elected their team leader and the team members selected. France vs the World is purely for the entertainment of mountain biking fans and athletes. There is no official title or prize money associated with the challenge.
LOIC BRUNI AND ‘TEAM FRANCE’
The first team captain for the Crankworx Les 2 Alpes France vs. The World has selected his team. After being named the French team captain by the Crankworx World Tour, top downhill mountain biker Loic Bruni is set to take on the world with nine of his fellow countrymen and women.
“This is the fourth year Crankworx has been in Les 2 Alpes and we can see mountain biking is really taking off in the country. It is the centre of the cycling universe, as the home of the Tour de France, and the French Alpes are a Mecca for trail running. Coming to L2A year after year, and watching the events unfold in Rotorua, however, we’re quickly learning the French are pretty dominant trail riders, as well, and Loic is the epitome of this edge,” says Darren Kinnaird, Crankworx World Tour general manager.
Currently out front in the Crankworx DH Championships, Bruni’s win in the Crankworx Rotorua Downhill presented by iXS foreshadowed a strong season for the 21-year-old, who is climbing the ranks of the UCI World Cup circuit, presently in fifth spot. The son of one of the discipline’s pioneers, Jean-Pierre Bruni, his personal success and lineage leave him uniquely qualified to lead the charge to a new frontier for French mountain biking and he is taking the challenge in stride.
“Today it is obvious that Frenchies have their place in the top guns of downhill, enduro and more. We have a cool génération and I think we are all talented. The only thing we miss to be the best is working harder,” he says.
The premise of France vs. The World is simple. Bruni has assembled a team of French athletes he believes will earn the most points, with points assigned on the same basis as the Crankworx World Tour rankings. Picking a French male and a female rider for every race possible in Les 2 Alpes—the Official European Whip-Off Championships (no female French athlete registered), D.S.&S. (no female category), Crankworx Les 2 Alpes Slopestyle (no female category) and Crankworx Les 2 Alpes Downhill presented by iXS—his task is to rack up more points than the team representing the rest of the world.
Bruni is placing his bet on Myriam Nicole as a fellow representative of downhill. Recovering from a broken collarbone, she is set to add her points to the team’s total as soon as her body is ready. Nicole is the reigning Les 2 Alpes DH champion and French national DH champion, and well familiar with the comeback climb, having broken the same bone in Whistler three years ago. Bruni has given her, and his entire team, a resounding vote of confidence, saying he knows they are primed for a great battle.
“I’m totally trusting this French team on every single event of Crankworx. We are all ready for it and we’ll be defending our colours on home soil. We’ll be hard to beat,” he says.
The team also includes Giant Toa Enduro Champion Anne-Caroline Chausson, the first Olympic BMX Champion, who will serve as the female pump track competitor, along with Koko Percier, who came out of nowhere to make the semi-finals in the Les 2 Alpes Pump Track Challenge presented by RockShox last year.
Percier bumps out the obvious selection for the discipline, Adrien Loron, who Bruni saved for his D.S.& S. pick. His other D.S.&S. pick is Tomas Lemoine, who has podiumed in the Les 2 Alpes D.S.& S. twice.
The selections leave the other two French Slopestyle athletes competing, Louis Reboul and Antoine Bizet, to round out the gravity component of his team. Reboul place 10th in the Crankworx Rotorua Slopestyle and is ranked 10th in the FMB World Tour standings, while Bizet secured 12th spot in Rotorua and is currently ranked 14th in the FMB.
His final pick, downhill racer Rémi Thirion, will represent the French in the Official European Whip-Off Championships. The second best French downhiller, after Bruni himself, Thirion knows how to work a jump and a bump and is expected to entertain the crowds with some epic sideways steeze.
Team France consists of:
Official European Whip-Off Championships — Rémi Thirion
D.S.&S.— Tomas Lemoine and Adrien Loron
Les 2 Alpes Pump Track Challenge presented by RockShox — Anne-Caroline Chausson and Corentin “KoKo” Percier
Crankworx Les 2 Alpes Slopestyle — Antoine Bizet and Louis Reboul
Crankworx Les 2 Alpes Downhill presented by iXS — Loic Bruni and Myriam Nicole
ANNEKE BEERTEN LEADS ‘THE WORLD TEAM’
She’s in the lead to become the first Queen of the Crankworx World Tour and now Anneke Beerten is rallying the troops to dominate in Les 2 Alpes.
Last week, the Crankworx World Tour named Beerten team captain for its France vs. The World competition and the enduro star has now completed the complicated task of choosing her team for this friendly battle, navigating possible options to select a male and female rider from every discipline, without hitting the same country twice.
“It was hard to pick out of so many amazing athletes, but I think we got a pretty fast world team,” says Beerten, the Rotorua Pump Track Challenge presented by RockShox champion.
A former BMX and Fourcross star, the Dutchwoman embodies the Queen of the Crankworx World Tour concept as a well-rounded athlete who can hold her own in any discipline. Now she will prove just how well she knows the intricacies of the competitive mountain biking world by selecting the strongest team out of the rich field of athletes expected for Les 2 Alpes.
“We all know the Frenchies are damn fast in all kinds of cycling disciplines, but I think the world team will be hard to beat with athletes like Rachel Atherton, who is always so consistent, Cam Zink, who is all about style and speed and Marcelo Gutierrez, who is absolutely on fire this season,” says Beerten.
Stacking the deck with a string of American, Canadian or British riders, the countries with the strongest contingent of mountain bikers, was out of the question as France vs. The World came with strict guidelines. Beerten had to choose a team consisting of a male and female rider from each discipline, wherever possible, and every rider was required to be from a different country.
Joining herself on pump track, she has thus pulled in Matt Walker of New Zealand. A solid DH rider, Walker placed second on the pump track in Les 2 Alpes last year and made his Crankworx debut in the discipline in 2012, hitting the podium right out of the gate. He’s given his team’s chances good odds.
“The French will always be tough competition across all disciplines, so they will definitely be hard to beat; but I think the world team will put up a good fight and it will come down to the wire with the world team coming out on top,” says Walker.
The obvious choice for any downhill competition, Rachel Atherton, who won the Crankworx Les 2 Alpes Downhill presented by iXS – European Downhill Cup twice before France’s Myriam Nicole locked it down last year, also made the cut. The selection was a difficult choice for Beerten as it eliminated a string of strong British riders from the realm of possibility, like Slopestyle stars Sam Reynolds, Sam Pilgrim and Bernard Kerr, not to mention Atherton’s brother, DH rider Gee Atherton.
Her male selection for downhill was easier. In picking Marcelo Gutierrez, of Columbia, she has snagged the reigning King of Crankworx Whistler and an all-round DH star. Her other South American choice, Bernardo Cruz of Brazil, was an equally safe pick. In addition to winning the 2013 Official World Whip-Off Championships in Whistler to become World Whip-Off Champion, his country of origin, Brazil, kept the door open to use athletes from more dominant mountain biking countries in the D.S. & S. and Slopestyle.
Beerten then opted to use her American and Canadian picks in the same discipline. Sharpening her pencil, she chartered a path to Cam Zink and Tom van Steenbergen. Zink is a D.S. & S. master, if not the D.S. & S. master. Until Crankworx Rotorua, there had never been a D.S. & S. competition where he wasn’t in the finals.
“I think this is an honour and I can’t thank Anneke enough for picking me. I’m going to do everything I can to represent the world but, most of all, the USA,” said Zink upon learning he had been chosen.
For his part, van Steenbergen has also done well in D.S. & S. Though he’s known for making his mark in big air competitions, like his attempt to front-flip the 72-foot gap at Red Bull Rampage, he has made it to the finals in the discipline and should prove a strong contender.
Her final selections for Team World are Belgium’s Thomas Genon and Czech rider Tomas Zejda, represent a yin and yang in Slopestyle. An up-and-comer on the gravity scene, Zejda appears poised for a breakthrough this year, with a hefty bag of tricks and a keen eye on the prize, while Genon is a consistent podium finisher whose breakout move was a 2013 Red Bull Joyride win at Crankworx Whistler.
Team World consists of:
Official European Whip-Off Championships — Bernardo Cruz (BRA)
D.S.&S.— Cam Zink (USA) and Tom van Steenbergen
Les 2 Alpes Pump Track Challenge presented by RockShox — Anneke Beerten (NED) and Matt Walker (NZL)
Crankworx Les 2 Alpes Slopestyle — Thomas Genon (BEL) and Tomas Zejda (CZE)
Crankworx Les 2 Alpes Downhill presented by iXS — Rachel Atherton (GBR) and Marcelo Gutierrez (COL)
All photos and information by Crankworx