Canadian women are set to be front and centre as Crankworx World Tour kicks off for another year.
The globetrotting three-stop series starts in New Zealand once again, running from March 1 – 8, 2020. When it does, three Canadain women will be in the running for Queen of Crankworx title.
Verbeeck focused and ready to defend the throne
Returning Queen of Crankworx, Vaea Verbeeck leads the charge. Verbeeck captured her first Crankworx crown in Whistler last August, after competing in events around the world. The Canadian downhill national champion expanded from her big-bike strength to capture the title, winning or podiuming in the dual slalom events throughout 2019.
“I am stoked for the racing to start and see how everyone stepped their game up over the offseason,” says Verbeeck. “I’ve been working pretty hard on my end to make sure I have all sorts of skills covered and am ready for Crankworx.” The Canadian says this includes “a good mix of training on and off the bikes. I go back to the basics and work on sprints, gate starts, setting up flat corners, and then I just ride all four bikes to feel good on all of them.”
Revelstoke, B.C.’s Casey Brown is also back on the Crankworx tour for 2020. After spending much of 2019 focusing on pushing the development of women’s freeride, Brown is back in Rotorua for the first Crankworx event of the year. A multi-talented rider, she’ll be taking on a wide range of six different events in New Zealand.
Brown’s expected to make a strong showing in the Speed and Style event. 2020 will be the first year Rotorua includes a women’s Speed and Style event. With a background in freeride, downhill racing, and video segment filming, Brown could storm out to a lead when the women’s version of the fast-paced event debuts in New Zealand.
The two Crankworx veterans, Verbeeck and Brown, will be joined by a newer face. Whistler’s Georgia Astle will be a bigger presence at all Crankworx stops in 2020. Always a force at her home, Whistler events, Astle will be taking on a wider range of events in New Zealand this year.
New challengers and returning royalty
The three Canucks will face a strong group of challengers in the race for the Queen of Crankworx. After spreading her focus to the Enduro World Series, multi-time Queen Jill Kintner is looking to reclaim her throne in 2020.
“A lot of hard work goes into being prepared to compete in so many events at Crankworx, so now the planning is mostly done, boxes have been ticked, parts are showing up daily, and I am ready to ride my best when it counts.”
Kintner’s goal for her return to Crankworx is simple and clear:
“To enjoy the ride, win as many events as possible, and do my best to reclaim the throne! Yew!”
Kintner is the veteran challenger to Verbeeck’s throne, but she’s not alone. The American is joined by several new faces this year.
Kialani Hines, who lives not far from Kitner in Washington state, has been a growing force on the Crankworx circuit. Hines was second behind Verbeeck in 2019. In Rotorua, she’ll be starting in four events, and looking to move up that last step in the overall standing.
Anneke Beerten finished third in 2019 behind Hines and Verbeeck. This year, the multi-disciplined rider is back on the Crankworx circuit. She’ll also start four events in Rotorua.
Jordy Scott is the newest challenger on the women’s side. Scott will be making her Rotorua debut, but she shows up with some big results under her belt already. In Whistler in 2019, she won the inaugural women’s Speed and Style event. She also came second in the Pumptrack Challenge.
Tracey Hannah, the four-time Crankworx downhill series champion and 2020 World Cup champion will be returning to Rotorua to start her season.
A wide-open men’s field
Rotorua hometown hero Keegan Wright is set to take on a massive seven events in eight days this year. Five of these events count toward King of Crankworx if he can keep up the pace all week.
Kaos Seagrave will be bringing his wild style to more Crankworx World Tour stops in 2020. While his background lies in downhill racing, the young rider’s diverse skill set will make him a threat in all kinds of events. Seagrave’s signed on to start six events in Rotorua.
“My goal at Crankworx this year is to ride and have fun as much as I can. It’s fun having all these different events we can do and get to ride with so many different riders,” says Seagrave. “If I do well and I’m in for a chance at King then yeah let’s go for it…I can’t wait to get to Rotorua and start sending with all my brus.”
There’s several past King’s of Crankworx back for 2020, all looking to reclaim their throne. 2018’s King, Sam Blenkinsop arrives in Rotorua with serious pace, having already racked up New Zealand and Oceania Continental downhill titles this year. 2017 King Adrien Loron was runner-up in 2019, and will be hungry for more in 2020.
Tomas Lemoine was third overall in 2019. He’s also the only slopestyle rider to take on the wider King of Crankworx challenge.
Canada’s Bas van Steenbergen was fourth in 2019. After finishing just off the podium last year, he’ll surely be looking to improve in 2020.
OG Crankworx competitor and mountain bike legend Kyle Strait is back once again. He’ll be taking on three events this year in Rotorua.
On top of the Crankworx specialists, there’s a host of downhill and enduro racers looking to hone their race skills prior to the start of World Cup and Enduro World Series calendars. Troy Brosnan, and Pivot Factory Racing’s trio of Bernard Kerr, Eddie Masters and Matt Walker are all set to start events in Rotorua.