Riders say fast starts and sweet spot in sticky right hander key to success in RockShox Pump Track Challenge SilverStar.
Day Two of Crankworx B.C. racing at SilverStar Mountain Resort, with one competitor on a solid gold streak, and another earning his first Crankworx top of the box.
Niels Bensink (NED) earns his first Crankworx gold with a near-flawless performance in finals to take the win in today’s RockShox Pump Track Challenge SilverStar, and Kialani Hines (USA) earns her second gold medal in two days after winning the Dual Slalom yesterday.
“It was great,” said Hines. “I qualified first, so I just wanted to keep it going throughout the day. All the girls started to get faster, so it was definitely a tough race. But I’m happy to win.”
Hines also qualified first in yesterday’s Dual Slalom. When the weather wreaked havoc on the track, the women’s field called it, and Hines was awarded the win based on her qualifying run.
Today, with the sun shining, it was a full out battle to the finish. The weather dried out most of the track, minus on corner that most riders cited as one of the deciding factors for the day.
“That corner was very stressful,” added the American.
“I almost died in that corner,” Brayden Barrett-Hay (CAN) said, laughing, in an early round against Bas van Steenbergen.
“It’s scary,” added second place women’s finisher Harriet Burbidge-Smith (AUS). “It’s scary because you want to come in at full pace because you know how much slower you’re going to come out of it, but risking it and going fast, it’s just so squishy, and if it catches your front wheel, there’s a lot of bobbling going on.”
“I feel like the rest of the track was pretty straight-forward,” continued Hines. “It all dried out perfectly. But really all I could think about was that corner. So yeah, tough one. I just had to ride it a little harder than everything else I think, just to get some speed out of it.”
Her efforts paid off. She was half a second behind Burbidge-Smith on the right-hand side on their first matchup, managing to charge in their second on the left side and make up for the time. Today’s win is Hines’ third Pump Track win on the Crankworx World Tour.
On the men’s side, today’s win was a first.
“I really wanted this one,” said Bensink, whose top Crankworx result before today was a third earlier this year on the Pump Track in Innsbruck. “This is the event in the B.C. series that I feel like I’m a true specialist in, so yeah. It was good.”
Bensink hails from the BMX world and has only been riding mountain bikes for the past two years.
Like Hines he qualified first, just 0.3 seconds faster than Bas van Steenbergen, who he would face in the final matchup for gold.
“Pressure was on against Bas,” the Dutch rider said of his mindset heading into finals. “The right side was running pretty slow, and there was a soft spot in the berm. So I almost feel like you had to be a bit lucky to hit the right line.”
Bensink was just 0.39 behind in their first matchup, despite the challenge of the right course.
“I think my line was good on the first lap, but Bas still beat me. I knew it was doable at that time. I just needed a perfect lap. My start was the best one of the day, I was leading into the first corner. After that it was just holding on and hoping I would make all the berms and luckily it was enough.”
“I think the start and the last right hander on the right hand side was the decider for the race,” said Keegan Wright (NZL) who finished his day in third against fellow Rotorua rider Tuhoto Ariki Pene. “You could have a smooth left side, and everyone was having pretty smooth runs. And then the right side you could have a smooth run, but it came down to your exit speed coming out of that corner. There was no real way that you could hit it so that you could come out of it with speed, it was pretty much just decided on if you hit that little sweet spot to give you good exit speed.”
FULL RESULTS: RockShox Pump Track Challenge SilverStar
Today marks the second to last day of racing for athletes who’ve been travelling and racing across British Columbia for nearly two weeks.
And as the weather shifts to cooler temps, it’s also a sign that for many it’s the end of a long season of riding and racing bikes.
“It's not even that,” said Burbidge-Smith of the back-to-back Crankworx B.C. racing. “If that was it that would be fine. This is like my sixth month of being at events overseas.”
Like many on the Crankworx B.C. circuit, the Australian Red Bull rider will be heading to the Southern Hemisphere next to keep the competition rolling, a trip that will require athletes to quarantine for two weeks in transit.
“Everyone is not looking forward to it, but I’m so looking forward to it,” she laughed. “Stretching and chilling out every day. Netflix binge. Not even a lie, that’s what I’m going to be doing.”
Today’s event gave a nod to what’s to come. Three riders who made it to finals (Keegan Wright, Robin Goomes and Tuhoto Ariki Pene) all hail from Rotorua and will be racing in their hometown at Crankworx next month when the festival kicks off November 1.
“It’s good to see,” said Goomes, who finished in fourth behind Vaea Verbeeck, of the strong Rotorua representation. “Kind of feels like home I guess. Riding with the crew.”
Today’s results also add points to those near the top in the standings for King and Queen, without disrupting the order. Van Steenbergen and Verbeeck continue with their commanding leads, with one more event on the docket likely to affect points.