The Crankworx World Tour is on track to light up screens around the world in one week’s time, debuting the return of live mountain bike racing on Red Bull TV.
For many of the world’s top mountain bike athletes, Crankworx Innsbruck will also mark their return to the field of play.
For one athlete in particular, this return to racing represents even more.
“It feels amazing to be coming back,” said Brook Macdonald, who broke two vertebrae on a training run at the Mont-Sainte-Anne World Championships last August. “I haven’t raced in over a year, so to be able to be back in the racing scene is going to be the best...I feel like this (Crankworx) is a great opportunity to get back into the mental side of preparing myself to race again and at a competitive level.”
His goal for his first race back, a race that he won last year?
“To win it again!” the 28-year-old answered, laughing. “Obviously this is a dream, but my biggest goal is just to complete a race weekend knowing how that feels again.” The racer’s journey back to racing included surgery and months of rehab as he learned to walk again, before getting back on the bike. “That’s a big goal in itself.”
Alongside Brook, here’s a roundup of what’s coming and who to watch for, with a full live broadcast schedule on Red Bull TV to come.
Downhill. Is. BACK.
As Downhill racing returns to Red Bull TV for the first time since Crankworx Rotorua in March, Macdonald and his teammates, including Laurie Greenland, will be raring to go. Watch for veteran elite racer Mick “Sik Mik” Hannah(also racing Dual Slalom and Pump Track), and young gun Lucas Cruz who showed he’s primed for action with a solid showing in the CLIF Crankworx Summer Series in August. And someone who’s proved he’s no slouch in DH, Enduro powerhouse Martin Maes is sure to be in fighting shape following back-to-back weekends of EWS racing.
On the women’s side, the racer who stood atop the podium alongside Macdonald last year. Tracey Hannah will be back and looking to defend. Sure to be gunning for a DH win on home soil,Vali Höll will be representing Austria in the DH. Maes’ teammate Noga Korem and Pivot’s Morgane Charre, currently ranked second in the world in the EWS, will also be channeling their Enduro skills and hoping to pull together a winning race run.
Preliminary rider list: iXS Innsbruck Downhill presented by Raiffeisen Club
Slopestyle riders ready to flex
If recent coverage from the Audi Nines got you stoked to see more big style, Crankworx Innsbruck will have plenty to satisfy. 14 of the more stylish riders in the world are getting ready to take on the Crankworx Innsbruck Slopestyle, a gold event on the FMB World Tour. The rider list includes Emil Johansson, who’s won both Crankworx events that’ve run since Crankworx Innsbruck 2019 (his return to competition, in which he came in second). Others to watch for will be Germany’s Erik Fedko, who placed third in Rotorua, and Dawid Godziek who made his Crankworx Slopestyle debut in Innsbruck last year and took third. Paul Couderc is also riding a wave of momentum after landing an epic Footplant Flip at Audi Nines earlier in September.
Preliminary rider list: Crankworx Innsbruck Slopestyle
Women’s Speed & Style to make Austrian debut
Throw some speed and a hearty dose of strategy into the style mix, and you have the CLIF Speed & Style Innsbruck presented by GoPro. For the first time in Innsbruck, an invitational women’s field will show the world what they’ve got on this famed track. Germany’s Kathi Kuypers will certainly be one to watch, along with local rider Paula Zibasa and France’s Mathilde Bernard, who’s tasted victory in Crankworx Pump Track before, but will be taking on this discipline for the first time in Innsbruck.
On the men’s side, 2019’s European Whip-Off Champion Kaos Seagrave is likely to be a top contender (he’s also tackling every event in Innsbruck this year, except Slopestyle). He’ll be competing against Sam Reynolds, who narrowly missed out on the event podium last year, finishing fourth, and Slopestyle all-stars like Tomas Lemoine, who’s earned a fair few pieces of Speed & Style hardware over the years.
Preliminary rider list: CLIF Speed & Style Innsbruck presented by GoPro
Dual Slalom: the great equalizer
Where will you find the biggest cross-section of racers representing different disciplines of MTB? The Dual Slalom track is the mountain bike melting pot of Crankworx and consistently the site of some of the tightest and most exciting battles.
Ed Masters will be fighting for the top against Pivot teammate Bernard Kerr once again. The two have faced each other in head-to-head Crankworx Slalom racing before, finishing 1 (Kerr) and 2 (Masters) in Les Gets in 2018. Back to defend will be young racer Matthew Sterling, who stormed the event and took the W in 2019. Another to watch for will be newcomer to the Crankworx scene, Brady Stone. The Kiwi is currently second overall in the EWS Men U21 category and is set to take on both Dual Slalom and DH in Innsbruck.
On the women’s side, like Stone, EWS racers Ella Connolly and Martha Gill will be battling the likes of Vali Höll, who in addition to DH and Dual Slalom, will also be charging for the top on the Pump Track.
Preliminary rider list: Dual Slalom Innsbruck
Power and precision on the Pump Track
Playing out on a short, fast and technical track, Crankworx Pump Track action is all about precision and, without the ability to pedal, a whole lot of power.
With the most participation of all the women’s events over the five days of the festival, the RockShox Innsbruck Pump Track Challenge will once again be the site of some exciting sunset battles.
Norway’s Mille Johnset, in her first year of elite racing, is set to take on the Pump Track (in addition to racing Dual Slalom and DH). Alongside her, Germany’s Laura Brethauer, a veteran of the event, and the Gehrig twins, who’re shifting their focus from Enduro to Pump Track and DH for Crankworx Innsbruck.
The men’s roster is a who’s who of MTB talent - where else can you see the likes of EWS shredder Adrien Dailly (coming off a win in Pietra Ligure) on the same start list as downhiller Mick Hannah, YouTube star Fabio Wibmer, style-masters like Antoine Bizet and Szymon Godziek, and heavy-hitters of the discipline like Chaney Guennet and Adrien Loron?! That’s Crankworx for you, baby.
Preliminary start list: RockShox Innsbruck Pump Track Challenge