Hello Everyone, hope you enjoy this recap from an exciting and busy week racing in Austria.
Innsbruck is a stunning city in the Austrian Alps surrounded by snow-capped mountains and great riding. Crankworx is hosted at the Mutters ski station about 10 minutes out of town and this year boasts a brand-new downhill track that everyone was eager to get their teeth into.
Crankworx Innsbruck is kicked off with an opening party hosted in a roof top bar in one of the Downtown hotels. Pivot Factory Racing Team decided to arrive to Crankworx in style this year and hired a limousine to make an entrance. The transport set the tone of the night and the weekend where everyone had fun catching up with old friends, making new ones and of course, riding bikes.
Dual slalom training kicked off events for the team. The short track only took only 17 seconds to complete the fast berms, rollers, jumps and flat grass turns and promised tight racing.
Eddie was looking good on the flat turns and qualified with the 17th fastest time while Matt pumping hard on the jumps and rollers qualified in 21st. The first round of 32 followed on straight away to set out who would be in the main event and on the live stream on Thursday afternoon.
Matt was up against a tough opponent but a clean run saw him 0.2 seconds up after run one. Another clean run for his second run wasn’t quite enough and he dropped less than half a second. An overall difference of less than 0.3 seconds saw Matt knocked out of the final 32 and cheering on Eddie.
Eddie gave everyone a scare with a terrible start out the gate. Dropping 5 or 6 bike lengths he clawed back all his time and then some on the final flat turns to end up winning the first run. A much better start in the second run and another clean performance put Eddie safely into the final 16.
A long Pump Track for 2019 made for a physical event and the boys were enjoying riding the hardtails. Matt pushed a little hard in his qualification run and drifted the front wheel round a berm losing some time, missing out on the top 32 by just under 0.4 seconds.
Eddie faired a little better and qualified into 28th and into the round of 32. Looking fast he was up by the smallest of margins after run one. Always struggling on the chainless gate starts he lost a few bike lengths from the start of the second run. Gaining back time all the way he was pumping hard but it wasn’t enough and Eddie didn’t make it into the final 16, finish up 24th overall.
Dual slalom finals ended a busy day. Into the last 16 and onto the live feed Eddie was looking nimble through the tight turns on his Mach 5.5. His first heat in the final 16 was a huge challenge against the fastest qualifier. Pulling his foot out of the pedal when putting the power down out of the gate, Eddie lost some time but gained most of it back on the flat grass turns on the bottom of the track again.
His next gate start was much better, nailing the first few turns he was ahead coming into the final grass turns and knocked out the number one qualifier and was into the final 8!
Eddie was feeling confident and looked to be onto another fast run in the next heat until a small drift in the final grass turn put him off line. Bunny hopping to correct the error, his front wheel passed just inside the final gate. This smallest of mistakes gave him a penalty of the maximum differential, 1.5 seconds. Having a flyer on the next heat, Eddie gained back over 1.2 seconds but the perfect run wasn’t enough to overcome the penalty and unfortunately Eddie was knocked out in the semi-finals.
A new downhill track awaited the team for Crankworx Innsbruck. Freshly cut into the forest, the track was loose, loamy and covered in roots. Lots of traversing and compressions made for a physical track to race that rewarded pumping. With hundreds of competitors in the amateur and junior categories the amount of traffic and fresh cut track was sure to cut up and change significantly over the weekend.
Bernard was still feeling sore and bruised after the crash in Leogang. With bruised ribs, a dead leg and cut elbow he took the physio’s advice and wisely decided not to race and take a rest week.
After training Emilie was also still in pain following her crashes earlier this season; making the hard decision she also decided to sit out the Crankworx downhill. It’s never ideal having two athletes sitting out at a race and both were gutted to be missing out and are already working on rehab to be 100% for the next race in Andorra.
With two hours of downhill training in the morning, Saturday had a relaxed feel. With Bernard and Emilie side-lined with injuries, there was plenty of support and coaching available trackside. The track was cutting up as expected, and with holes developing and uncovering roots, there was opportunity to jump the roughest of the terrain and keep speeds high. Eddie was finding ‘naughty boy lines’ gapping roots, holes and taking inside lines on corners. He was loving the track.
Matt was charging through the soft loam and taking the time to set the bike up for the different surface to Leogang and Fort William. The softer ground covering roots and rocks requires a different suspension set up that grips well while absorbing the big hits and compressions.
A huge rain storm on Saturday night left the track soaked. Riders were worried about the polished-off camber roots in the wet, and with only two hours of training to get used to the wet track it was going to be an interesting race. Eddie and Matt were pleasantly surprised with the track; the rain made the dirt hold together and was grippy and forgiving. This was offset by the sniper roots – the polished diagonal roots became insanely slippery as the mud and moisture was dragged on them. Riders had to ride light over the roots to not get caught out.
Both team riders were on live feed with Matt dropping in first on the drying track. Matt was looking fast on the big screens and took the fastest speed through the speed trap. Crossing the line in 8th he was a bit frustrated with his run. Not knowing the grip levels, he made a few mistakes and lost time in some critical sections. With only a few riders bettering his time, Matt ended the weekend with an 11th.
Eddie was flying all weekend with a number of people commenting how fast he was looking in training. His usual style of pushing the limits paid off and he was up by 0.7 at the halfway split time despite coming unclipped and having a moment that made the crowd gasp. Sprinting hard out of the final turn, he crossed the line into first, 2.3 seconds up!
In the hot seat with only two riders left to race, Eddie was guaranteed a podium. A nervous wait saw one rider fail to beat his time and with the final rider coming through the split 0.5 behind Eddie the nerves were starting to show. It was too tight to call as the rider crossed the line. The timing screen showed Eddie had been beaten by only 0.11 seconds, the smallest of margins.
Eddie was stoked on the race and importantly was first to open the podium champagne, soaking his competitors and capping off a successful event for the team.
The team now travels to Morzine in France where they will be based for the next few weeks of training and recovery in preparation for attacking the next races.