Words by Bernard Kerr
Crankworx Innsbruck kicked off with the Dual Slalom. An eighteen-second sprint was a change from the 4-hour Enduro events the team had just arrived from but the bike handling skills and excitement were the same.
A track of two halves started with fast berms, jumps, and rollers followed by some flat grass turns. The final turns were tricky at the best of times but with some moisture in the air, the grass became like an ice rink.
Qualifying went down with the full team making the cut, Morgane looking smooth and powerful qualifying first with Bernard qualifying third.
Round one did not go to plan for Eddie. Losing some time out the gate in his first heat some fast flat corners were not enough to get the time back and he was knocked out. Bernard and Charlie breezed through their first heats joining Morgane in the final 16.
Bernard made good progress through the round of 16, winning both heats and riding confidently into the quarter-finals.
Charlie won his opening heat riding into the final 16 and was adapting well to the change in discipline. Pushing hard to secure his space in the quarter-finals and carrying too much speed into the flat turns he slid out and missed his chance to progress any further in his first-ever dual slalom.
Bernard came up against the stiff competition in his semi-final. Losing some time on the slightly slower lane in his first heat he had a brilliant run on the faster lane, gaining time back but not enough to secure a finals spot against the eventual winner.
Determined to come away from one of his favorite events with a result Bernard made light work of the third-place ride off. Comfortably winning both heats and grabbing a well-deserved podium.
Morgane wasn’t troubled in either her quarter or semi-finals and made it into the final with no mistakes.
Morgane’s final was filled with drama. Taking almost half a second advantage in the first round she was feeling confident for the next round. Looking strong but losing a bit of time to her rival, crossing the line all eyes were on the timing board to see the difference. With no timings showing and after a tense wait official word came of a timing error and a rerun would be needed.
In the rerun, Morgane and her rival were side by side going into the final grass turns. Morgane had been looking the class if the field on the flat corners all event but in the final, her front wheel lost traction at the last moment and she slid out and hit the deck. Jumping up and straight onto her bike she didn’t lose too much time crossing the line. The drama continued as it was spotted that Morgan’s competitor had missed the final gate.
No one knew who had won but after some deliberation and another intense delay official word came through that Morgane had won! A brilliant end to the event for the team with a win and third
Training started on Friday on a dry and fast track. Everyone was loving being back on the downhill bikes and finding the extra speed that comes with the bigger bikes. Some small changes to the track from the previous were well received and added some technicality to the final section.
High winds and heavy rain lead to canceled training on Saturday but gave the team some downtime and rest. The weather much improved come race day but all riders swapped to Maxxis Shorty tires for better traction on the wet mud and roots.
Charlie was enjoying some time in his DH bike after a season of Enduro racing and finding the limits of grip in the slick conditions. Eddie and Bernard were flying, unlocking some lines in the tighter corners to avoid the wet roots and carry speed.
Morgane was first of the Pivot team to take her final run, she pushed hard on the short track and was hitting all her lines. Carrying great speed round the final tight turns she came in sight of the line still pushing hard. Crossing the line into second with only a few riders to go was a great result. After the final riders had completed their race runs Morgane finished a brilliant third, another podium, and another great ride.
Bernard came down shorty after Morgan. Pushing and pumping the terrain hard on the firs straight he crossed the first split less than a second off the fastest time so far. A tidy final section that had been catching some riders out saw
Bernard crossed the line into third. Feeling he rode too safe on the drying track and left some speed out there he was happy to finishing off in tenth as he gets up to speed in preparation for world championships.
With all riders on the Crankworx live stream, Charlie was up next. Looking right at home on the Phoenix downhill bike a small stall on one of the slower tricky final corners saw him lose some time. An otherwise clean run saw Charlie cross the line into thirteenth. Eventually finishing twentieth is a great result for Charlie who hasn’t raced many top-level downhill events. He was loving it and smiling ear to ear and wanting race again.
Eddie was third to last rider to drop in, with good experience on this track taking a second-place finish last year. Eddie was riding like his normal self, attacking hard from the start, and holding the speed to the bottom he crossed the line in a fantastic second. Admitting that the run suited his ‘sketchy operator’ riding style Eddie was happy with his ride. With the final riders not managing to better the time Eddie finished a brilliant second. Another double podium for the team!
A great weekend saw the team take podiums on every event they competed in. Spirits were high as the team packed up and headed up the valley to Leogang for the UCI Downhill World Championships in the coming week.