As Caleb pointed out yesterday Kiwi riders do indeed own the Crankworx Garbanzo race. Sam Blenkinsop took the coveted title in a time of 13:44.52 which was 13 seconds faster than second place rider Marcelo Gutierrez Villega who finished in 13:57.23, closely followed by Jack Reading in 13:58.44.
There are fewer of the top racers here this year (Crankworx is not good prep for the remainder of the season as it’s all jump trails and hangovers for most World Cup racers who treat it as a holiday from their life chasing time) and even the ones that are here opted out of racing. There were two reasons for this: firstly, the track is punched. Years of racing on the same trail and a very heavy snow pack thaw means the trail really is a shell of its former self, and even the argument of having gnarly beaten tracks to test riders doesn’t apply because most of the track is a hellish traverse through deep holes that doesn’t flow enough to allow riders to keep momentum. Secondly, it’s a 15 minute race on a weird course and most of the pros don’t consider it worthwhile putting that much effort into the 15 minutes required to do the race, let alone the days of practice that are necessary. Sure, there is money up for grabs but these boys (and girls) are on holiday in many respects and would rather go do sick whips all day and not risk a silly mid season injury in the hell of Garbo.
Not to take anything away from Blenki because he’s obviously fit as a fiddle (remember his seventh place at the Mega on a DH bike a few years ago?) as well as being ridiculously skilled on a bike, but it was a shame there weren’t more riders to put his win into perspective. Saying that, Cedric Gracia’s love child (I have a feeling Marcelo Gutierrez Villega is just the result of a romance Gracia had with some rich Columbian countess) has won Garbo twice previously as a junior so his second spot as a pro was a nice step up. Jack Reading is a loose cannon but is also incredibly dedicated to prep and practice so his third spot is well deserved too.
In the ladies, a tiny turnout (six pro women) was a bit of a disappointing prospect but Claire Buchar showed her class and local knowledge to keep Welsh junior Manon Carpenter at bay.