Though Adrien Loron has topped the podium at Crankworx events the world over, he'd never quite pulled it off in the dual speed and style.
After three runner-up finishes, as well as a third-place showing since 2014, Loron graduated from groomsman during the Clif Dual Speed and Style on Aug. 12. He knocked off close friend Tomas Slavik in the final on a day that started out somewhat precariously.
"I wasn't that confident at the beginning of the day because there were so many good riders, big tricks and people going fast. But I've been improving my runs a bit, finally made some combos, which is pretty hard for me, so I'm pretty stoked," he said. "I tried not to think too much about the other people and stay focused on my work. It was good to put those combos together and it worked."
Loron also added 150 points to his King of Crankworx and its $25,000 bonus, boosting his advantage over downhiller Jack Moir of Australia and Saturday's fourth-place finisher Mitch Ropelato of the United States, who fell to the U.K.'s Daryl Brown in the small final.
Loron's challenger in the final, the defending King of Crankworx in Slavik, took an unusual road to get as far as he did, eschewing difficult tricks — and the time credits that come with them — to advance as far as he did on pure speed.
"We were talking before the race that anything can happen. I wasn't expecting to even be a top-10 guy and here, I got second," Slavik said.
While he acknowledged he was a little surprised to get as far as he did with time only, Slavik stressed that it was a heck of a lot of speed.
"I'm a racer and I race with the speed," he said. "I was really pushing it. I was sliding in every single turn. I was getting out of control and I was giving my best to it."
Loron entered the finals as the only competitor of the 16 who could catch Czech rider Jakub Vencl for the overall title, but needed a Vencl flub in addition to the win. Vencl made his mistake, missing a gate, but since it came in the elite eight, he still banked enough points to hold off Loron's challenge and take the tour championship and $5,000.
"I never thought it would end up like this and I'm over the moon," Vencl said, noting it was only a year ago in Whistler that he tried his first dual speed and style event, taking a surprise second. "In Innsbruck, I kind of messed up and I knew I had to make the top eight here, and I did just that.
"I made some mistakes, but it was enough for the overall, so I'm still pretty happy."
Vencl said the course was tougher than it was in 2016 with the loose turns providing him a significant challenge.
"It was way more difficult. I had a lot more trouble in practice. I was feeling really bad but I managed to push through and get a good qualification time," he said.
Loron said the King of Crankworx chase was more important to him than the series title, but was pleased to see Vencl — the winner of the first two events this year in Rotorua and Les Gets — go home with the treasure.
"Of course, it would be good to have it, but it wasn't my main goal. I was just focusing on passing everyone and getting more points for the King of Crankworx," he said. "At the end, I knew (Vencl) had it and I'm pretty happy for him. He deserves it."