Tomas Lemoine, admittedly, didn't even think about the overall Crankworx tour title entering the Clif Dual Speed and Style on Aug. 11.
The Frenchman had only competed in one of the three events entering Crankworx Whistler; 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."
Being fully aware of what Watts could accomplish, Lemoine edged toward the speed side of the equation in the final.
"I knew he was going to do big tricks, so I knew I had to be fast and (not make) mistakes," Lemoine said.
Lemoine added he's happy to see dual speed and style attracting a higher calibre of athlete, fast riders with big tricks, as the years progress.
"I think it's good that we have 90 points on the jumps, because that means we send it," he said. "That was a good final."
The win also allowed Lemoine to close the gap on New Zealand's Sam Blenkinsop for the King of Crankworx title to 115 points at press time.
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. "The last section has been a lot trickier this year. That's the only real major difference. The top half flowed really good."
Watts noted the track conditions were solid early with added traction from the precipitation, but fell apart later in the day.
Watts was disappointed to have missed a trick against Lemoine, but with the conditions deteriorating, was proud to have made it that far.
"One mistake at the end of the day is better than one at the beginning," he 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, given that it's his first full season racing the discipline.
"It got taken away at the last second, but I don't really mind," he said. "I got lucky.
"I'm going to try again next year, but I had a great year and I don't know if I can see it being topped."