August 09, 2014 (Whistler, BC) – Crankworx Whistler has crowned its first champions of 2014. Jean Ann Berkenpas (CAN) has taken the top spot in the Pro Women’s Fat Tire Crit, while Craig Richey (CAN) squeaked through after a tight final few laps in the Pro Men’s race.
“It’s awesome,” said Berkenpas, who also won the event last year. “It’s always a bit harder the second time because you’re a bit more marked, so I was really happy to take it again.”
Finishing close behind her and taking second spot was Leah Guloien (CAN).
While the top two broke away relatively early from the rest of the pack, the crowd favourite, crossing the line in third place, was clear.
“It was amazing to hear them all,” said Whistler local Chloe Cross (CAN) who rounded out the podium. “I’ve been on the road, racing a little bit – being the girl from out of town, and hearing all the cheering for everybody else from their hometown crowd. It’s really really nice to have it for me.” When questioned whether the boost from the crowd helped push her into third today, Cross responded with a simple “absolutely.”
Following the women’s race, the men took to the pavement in a race that came down to the wire.
“Neither of us really knew when it was one lap to go – it was hard to tell,” said Craig Richey (CAN) who won after battling neck-and-neck with the second place finisher, Kris Sneddon (CAN), until the deciding moment. He says in a race like that it’s a mix of strategy and strength that makes the difference: “It’s really hard to pass on the last lap, so you just have to stay on the gas.”
Winning another tight battle for third place on the men’s podium was Spencer Paxson (USA).
The first day of Crankworx competition kicked off with some of the sport’s youngest athletes trying their hand at the unique race style – the Kidsworx Village Crit got things going, bringing two-wheeled champions-in-training, between the ages of two and 15, onto the course. Seven Pro Women followed in a race that included 15 minutes of racing before a final three laps. 17 Pro Men came next, racing for 20 minutes before a final five laps.
In an attempt to describe the unique race that has kicked off Crankworx competition for the past two years, Richey laughed and described it simply as “kind of like a road crit but definitely sketchier.”
The course follows an approximately 800 metre loop around Whistler Olympic Plaza – unlike most of Crankworx’s dirt-based races, the Fat Tire Crit is primarily paved with a short crushed gravel section. Riders race around the circuit for the allotted time, which each lap taking, on average, 40-45 seconds to complete. The winner of the Pro Women’s race takes home a cheque for $300, while the first to cross the line in the Pro Men’s category earns $500. Beyond the payout, Berkenpas says there’s something extra the winner takes.
“It’s always kind of special to be the opening event and to win the opening event. I love coming for Crankworx – the whole festival is just so awesome.”
Following the awards ceremony, the audience that watched the crit grew as revelers prepared to get down and funky for the Crankworx Opening Celebration featuring Five Alarm Funk. The day kicks off the 10 days of celebration of mountain bike mastery and culture that make up Crankworx Whistler every year.
1. Jean Ann Berkenpas
2. Leah Guloien
3. Chloe Cross
1. Craig Richey
2. Kris Sneddon
3. Spencer Paxson