Even the best need a little break every so often.
Finn Iles has certainly earned himself a small reprieve after a blazing start to the 2017 season, capturing two of the first three UCI World Cup races — and placing second in the other — he's put himself in good shape as he looks to defend his junior men's overall title.
He also captured the junior men's division at the Crankworx event in Les Gets, France, earlier this month before opting against following the festival to its most recent stop in Innsbruck, Austria, this past weekend (see below).
Instead, Iles stayed in France to ride after back-to-back-to-back weekends of competition, opting instead for some "midseason maintenance" like testing and training.
"I've just had a good three weeks of racing and I'm really happy with how it went. I'm just enjoying my time here riding the bike park and just making sure I'm staying fit," he said over the phone on June 21. "It's good heading into the next two World Cups (to get some rest)."
Iles, who will turn 18 in August, said this season has been part of a steady career increase for him as he's felt solid right from the get-go, not only generally winning his age category but putting up times that aren't far off some of the top professionals.
"I'm very happy with how it's gone so far. I'm riding my bike well and I feel strong. I feel like it's a good start to the season. Heading into the last four World Cups, I'm feeling comfortable on my bike and I'm in a good spot in the overall," he said.
A major spot where Iles has made a leap forward is in his mental game, as he's feeling more and more like a race course is his natural habitat.
"I feel I'm really comfortable at the races. I feel like I'm in a better headspace at the races," he said. "I feel like I'm better prepared and I'm better at training for the race. On the race weekend, I'm being more efficient with my training and not using so much energy, so when it comes to race time, I'm already ready to go."
That showed at the Crankworx stop in Les Gets, where he captured the Les Gets DH for the second consecutive year.
"Les Gets is a really good course. I think it's one of the better courses we race all year. After the first couple practices, I felt really comfortable and just enjoyed myself. I was riding my bike and having fun," he said. "I was really loving the track and I felt like I was riding well right from the beginning, so all week I was in a good mood and I was in a good headspace for the race."
Iles added that while there are still World Cup events in Vallnord, Andorra; Lenzerheide, Switzerland; and Mont-Sainte-Anne, Que., he's looking forward to returning home for the final Crankworx World Tour stop right here in Whistler in August.
Kintner, Loron maintain Queen, King of Crankworx leads
Both American Jill Kintner and Adrien Loron of France added to their overall point totals heading into the final Crankworx stop of the season here in Whistler.
Kintner is in the driver's seat after the inaugural Austrian stop in Innsbruck with a 165-point advantage on Australia's Caroline Buchanan 640 to 475, while fellow Australian Tracey Hannah is third with 400 points.
The men's division is closer, though Loron added 25 points to his cushion in Austria to lead Australian Jack Moir by 50 points, 475 to 425. American Mitch Ropelato is in third with 350 points.
The winner of each will receive a $25,000 bonus.
Also in line for the same payday is slopestyle athlete Nicholi Rogatkin of the U.S. Rogatkin edged the only other rider in contention for the Triple Crown of Slopestyle — Canadian Brett Rheeder — by a razor-thin 0.34 points, 96.00 to 95.66 to earn the win and the advantage. Tomas Lemoine of France was third but well behind at 89.33 points.
Rheeder held the advantage over Rogatkin 94.33 to 91.66 after both put up red-hot first runs, and though both found another gear with even higher scores, it was Rogatkin earning the win.
Elsewhere, Great Britain's Danny Hart and Australian Hannah captured their respective categories at the Innsbruck DH while Buchanan and France's Chaney Guennet starred in the Raiffeisen Club Pump Track Challenge. Lemoine, meanwhile, captured the win at the Mons Royale Dual Speed & Style Innsbruck.
Crankworx Whistler is set for Aug. 11 to 20.