Tomas Lemoine wasn't entering Saturday's first pro event at Crankworx, the Clif Dual Speed and Style, looking for the overall tour title.
The Frenchman had only competed in one of the three events entering Crankworx Whistler on Aug. 11; however, he won the event in Innsbruck and sat fourth in the standings.
Sure enough, in an event filled with intrigue right until the end, Lemoine knocked off American Greg Watts in the final to secure the tour victory⎯and a sweet $5,000 bonus in addition to $3,000 for winning the event. Had Lemoine lost to Watts, the win would have gone to Sam Reynolds of Great Britain, who defeated American Kyle Strait in the small final and was the leader entering Crankworx Whistler.
Lemoine said he wasn't feeling his strongest early in the day, but after defeating Liam Wallace, Bas Van Steenbergen, Tomas Slavik and then Reynolds en route to the final, felt his confidence pick up with each successive run.
"I got used to the jumps because it is not a proper dirt jump⎯it is different," the moustachioed Lemoine said in the finish corral shortly after winning. "I had to get to that for my tricks and then I had to get used to the course without feeling slow. I got better and better and I was happy and surprised that I won."
Watts took home a pair of cheques as well⎯$2,000 for second place and a new $1,000 award for best trick, which he secured after landing a flip barspin suicide on what he said was a tough course that saw changing conditions with some rain coming early in the contest.
"I felt good. There were a lot of crashes, even in qualifying. The course was pretty tough. There were a lot of tight flags where you could make mistakes, so you had to be on it," Watts said.
Reynolds was the beneficiary of a disproportionate number of those crashes, as the three opponents he beat from the round of 16 on⎯Barry Nobles, Daryl Brown and Strait⎯all went down in at least one of the two race runs.
"I've never done good at Whistler before. It was just one of those ones that eluded me. This is my first Whistler Crankworx medal and I'm super stoked," he said. "I got a little bit lucky. I had the No. 1 on the bike and I think that scared everyone off. Everyone was just trying too hard and crashing when they were racing me. It's not the best way to win, but you've got to finish to finish first."
Reynolds wasn't overly disappointed about letting the overall title slip away, instead being appreciative that he'd been in contention to begin with.
On Sunday, the sixth stop on the Enduro World Series tour will come to Whistler in the CamelBack Canadian Open Enduro. The first riders leave Whistler Village at 8 a.m. with the final pros expected to return between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.
Defending pro men's champion and Whistler local Jesse Melamed said in an Instagram post on Saturday that he is "unlikely" to race after sustaining a broken hand in training.
"Of course I'm upset, I just want to ride in front of everyone and my hometown! Sorry! See you out there tomorrow regardless," he wrote in his post.