It's all starting to become a little more real.
The first stage of the Crankworx World Tour has been in the books for a while now, with the first Crankworx Rotorua having gone down in New Zealand in March.
But with the top riders looking to establish their position in the overall standings as they seek to capture the historic first series titles, this year's French event at the Les 2 Alpes resort has taken on a little extra meaning.
Four of the top five slopestyle riders are set to be there including Rotorua champion Brett Rheeder of Mount Albert, Ont., American Nicholi Rogatkin, Belgium's Thomas Genon and Sunshine Coast's Logan Peat. Only Swede Martin Soderstrom is absent because of injury. Whistler's Brandon Semenuk, who was 14th at Rotorua, is also slated to take part.
In the downhill event, the top three men in the standings — France's Loic Bruni, the U.S.'s Eliot Jackson and New Zealand's Sam Blenkinsop — are all on line to be in the competition. Top riders in Gee Atherton, Marcelo Gutierrez and Remi Thirion will also be there. Whistler's Finn Iles is signed up for the pro youth U17 male division. On the women's side, leader Rachel Atherton of Great Britain and runners-up Tracey Hannah of Australia and Emilie Siegenthaler of Switzerland are all signed up.
In the pump track event, Dutch rider Anneke Beerten and French competitor Anne Caro Chausson headline the women's side, while Kyle Strait (USA), Tomas Lemoine (France), Adrien Loron (France), Joost Wichman (Netherlands), Walker Shaw (USA) and Mick Hannah (Australia) are confirmed on the men's side. Beerten and Wichman were the champs at Rotorua.
Lastly, Strait, Lemoine, Bernard Kerr (Great Britain), Greg Watts (USA) and Cam Zink (USA) are all confirmed for the D.S. and S (formerly known as the dual speed and style) event. The injured Soderstrom won the event in New Zealand, but Loron, Kerr and Lemoine rounded out the top four.
All the preceding events will be webcast at www.crankworx.com, but set your alarms. The D.S.&S takes place at 5:15 a.m. on July 10 while the pump track is at 10:45 a.m. later in the day. On July 11, the slopestyle kicks off at 7:15 a.m. and the weekend wraps with the downhill beginning at 5 a.m. on July 12.
Only the Official European Whip-Off Championships will not be webcast.
France to take on the world in gravity events
After France knocked the rest of the world down to earth in the gravity events at the year's first Crankworx event — the inaugural Crankworx Rotorua — organizers decided to pit the nation against all comers on its home turf.
Though France has long been known as a stronghold for road riders, organizers figured it would be entertaining to have a head-to-head showdown.
Last month, Crankworx named team captains — French rider Loic Bruni, the downhill champion at Rotorua — and Queen of Crankworx contender Anneke Beerten of the Netherlands. Each captain will name 10 riders, with Bruni selecting from France and Beerten choosing from the rest of the field.
The contest will award points identically to the King and Queen of Crankworx tallies, with riders receiving points for placing in the top 10.
Organizers noted in order to help better determine true supremacy, builders have amped up the level of difficulty on the D.S. and S, slopestyle and pump track courses.