GT Factory Racing’s Anneke Beerten came into the first event of the Crankworx World Tour looking to defend her 2015 title as the Queen of Crankworx. The Giant Toa Enduro was the first of fifteen female events that count towards the 2016 crown and the $25,000 USD prize that comes with it. The 8:15 AM start in front of the world famous Pohutu Geyser could not have gone any worse for the Queen, as she got a flat tire just after rolling out from the start hut.
She quickly fixed the puncture before catching back up to the rest of the field on the first transfer stage. From there she would win three of the six stages, coming home in a combined time of 40:38— more than 14 seconds up on the Lapierre Gravity Republic Enduro Team’s Rae Morrison. In her debut Crankworx event aboard her SRAM X01, SRAM Guide Ultimate and RockShox Suspension equipped GT Sanction, Anneke proved she is ready to defend her 2015 Crown.
On the men’s side, Giant Factory Off-Road team member Josh Carlson would begin his season on the podium with a third place finish.
R-Dog all business in defending his Official Oceania Whip-Off Championship title.
The 2016 Official Oceania Whip-Off Championship featured an iconic jump set in the middle of the Skyline venue, and by the time the Giant Toa Enduro was finished, the crowds were piled in and around to see who would get their bike the most sideways. Ryan ‘R-Dog’ Howard, who took home the inaugural Championship in 2015, set the bar high, often throwing the nastiest whips while fellow competitors were still figuring out the new jump.
R-Dog treats the Whip-Off like no one else, getting down to the bottom and quickly running back to the top for another jump. He hit the jump more times than anyone, and quickly became the crowd favorite, by either hitting the jump solo, or in trains with World Cup downhill racers like George Brannigan or David McMillan. By the end of the event, R-Dog, who can throw down whips to his left arguably as well as he does to his right, was the clear-cut Champion to the judges, successfully defending his 2015 title.
Crankworx Rotorua continues with the Mons Royale Dual Speed and Style on Thursday, the Rotorua Pumptrack Challenge presented by RockShox on Friday, the Crankworx Rotorua Slopestyle on Saturday and finally the Crankworx Rotorua Downill presented by iXS on Sunday.