The crowds were on their feet chanting his name and fist pumping the air, as Rotorua local Keegan Wright won the Crankworx Rotorua Pump Track Challenge presented by Rockshox against the undefeated Pump Track World Champion.
Wright, 20, had the crowd in his corner from the outset as he absolutely hammered down the line, time after time, chasing down the win with an extra torque on the throttle in the final moments of the last lap.
“I just went out and had fun, and it turned out to be a good day. It’s even better being in front of the home crowd. So yeah, looking forward to the rest of the week,” said Wright, who is known for his easy going manner.
Loron, denied a win in Rotorua for three years running, was clear he wanted that gold.
“I’m feeling bad because I’ve never won this one and I thought I did really good tonight,” said Loron (FRA), with an affable, if slightly defeated smile.
The loss will by no means crimp his ability to clinch a third Pump Track World Tour Championship. In addition to adding another opportunity to win to this year’s tour circuit, with the arrival of Crankworx Innsbruck, the Crankworx series only requires a rider to achieve the most points of any rider competing in the tour to take victory, a feat Loron achieved last year with two second places and a fourth.
“I was doing well until the very last moment, and then I made such a small mistake,” he said. “I did the biggest part of the job and sometimes it happens. But if it was going to happen, I’m really happy it was Keegan, being the local guy, who took the win.”
It was an evening for crowd-pleasing wins for the women’s race, as well. A screaming gaggle of young Kiwi girls made their preference for Caroline Buchanan (AUS) known and when she met up against reigning Queen of Crankworx Jill Kintner (USA) in the finals, it was the full rock star treatment from the sideline.
This is only her second shared podium with finance Barry Nobles (USA), who pulled in for a solid third place, and Buchanan said she could feel the vibe, even having to go back to her BMX visualizations and race the track, eyes closed, to maintain her concentration and seal the deal.
“I got out there and really had to commit to those back corners, which I think really won it for me today,” said Buchanan.
Her race was, nevertheless, not without its bumps. She had to redo her semi-final run when a GIANT clappy banner on the course forced her to slow down. Fresh off her Olympic year, however, nothing was throwing her game and she came back fresh and fighting.
Queen of Crankworx Jill Kintner, who absolutely owns the Crankworx pump track, having scored a four-year gold streak, 2010-2013, and a perfect hat trick on top of the World Tour podiums last year, had to admit, she had no one to blame for her loss.
“I just kind of threw it away there,” she said. “I was trying to rip that turn super hard, and then I was just a little bit high in the soft stuff and that was it. I felt good in the first one. I knew I had her, just ‘cause that lane was slower, and I had a real good run. And then yeah, that was that. It was on me,” she said.
She wrapped up her interviews with a big smile saying: “Don’t think for one second that I’m going to accept this.”
The next round of the Pump Track World Tour Champions will shake out in Les Gets, France this June, but there will be plenty of action to come for Crankworx Rotorua with both the Mons Royale Dual Speed & Style, and the Official Oceania Championships presented by SPANK slated to run tomorrow. Dual Speed will be broadcast live.
1. Keegan Wright (NZL)
2. Adrien Loron (FRA)
3. Barry Nobels (USA)
1. Caroline Buchanan (AUS)
2. Jill Kintner (USA)
3. Danielle Beecroft (AUS)
A complete list of Rotorua Pump Track Challenge presented by RockShox results can be found on Crankworx.com