CUNNING AND BUCHANAN TAKE BACK-TO-BACK TITLES IN PUMP TRACK AMIDST AUSSIE DOMINATED FINAL
CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA, May 20, 2023 – Kicking off the double header event day, riders were unchained and unleashed on a technical and fast-rolling pump track surrounded by the lush Cairns rainforest. The deciding factor for riders advancing into the final rounds was precise timing from the moment they left the start gate to all throughout the features and corners on the newly designed track by Flux Trails. With progression in mind, the builders focused on increasing the speed for riders to really take advantage of the huge corners and fast built features. This was accomplished with a significantly taller start ramp to launch riders into a hotter start right out of the gate.
The changes seemed to do the trick, at least for the local contingency, as Aussie riders took over the podium taking home 5 of the 6 top spots across the two categories. However, no one took advantage of the new starting ramp quite like defending champs Caroline Buchanan and Jayce Cunning. The decorated athletes were able to hit the marks and precisely time each move on the track en route to successfully defending their Crankworx Cairns Pump Track titles.
In a race decided by by mere inches, Caroline Buchanan was able to rely on her extensive pump track racing experience to dial in the best lines of the day and draw from her competitive muscle memory to get the job done.
“I love those moments where you just have to trust that your body knows what to do,” said Buchanan. “It kind of goes on autopilot come the final and I love when that performer instinct that comes out.”
In a race that was defined by the slimmest of margins, Buchanan took an early lead in the final as she took down Jenna Hastings in Run 1 by 0.1 of a second. However, that lead would only grow as the defending champ found her form and ended up ousting the irrepressible Kiwi by nearly a full second.
“It was a tough battle in the end against Jenna. She’s such a tight competitor and she got a really good start in the final round,” said the Maxxis athlete. It’s hundredths of a second in pump track right down to the final, I knew it was really important to try and take a win here today.”
Following the line of another defending pump track champion, Jayce Cunning showed why his first Crankworx title was far from a fluke as the Aussie owned the top four times on the track throughout the day. Boasting the fastest qualifying time by over half a second, Jayce Cunning looked dialed from the jump and never looked back. After taking out Niels Bensink in the first round, Jayce’s confidence was at an all time high.
“I’m super excited, last year being my first Crankworx, I thought I might of had a false reality of what it’s really like,” said Cunning. “So to be able to actually back it up and do it 2 years in a row is super exciting and gives me more belief in myself.”
Allowing the magnitude of the moment to fully sink in, two-time champ took time to reflect on a dream finally realized in yet another impressive showing on home soil.
“I remember 7 years ago writing in one of my books setting goals to get a Crankworx medal, so to have my third one is just incredible,” said Cunning. “Last year when I got the gold here, I wasn’t expecting to get any more, so to get bronze in Rotorua and then gold here is just a dream come true!”
Eager to make it two-for-two in as many races, Crankworx Carins Dual Slalom winner Ryan Gilchrist was laser focused and dialed in from the jump as he battled a fiercely competitive field from the outset.
“It was awesome, coming off yesterday we had a pretty good day, so I was keen to try and back it up again,” said Gilchrist. “It all came at me pretty fast, the day just started really quick it was straight into the incredibly hard matchups rights away.”
Gilchrist knew he had a tall order in front of him as he set his sights on taking down the clear cut fastest man on the course.
“Coming into the final against Jayce, we knew Jayce was the fastest man on course all day, so it was going to be tough,” said Gilchrist. “A mistake in the first round made it pretty tricky, I had some ground to make up. But, the best man won today. It was good to compete against him, we’ve done some pump track races together in the past, and we’ve got a score to settle at the next one!”
Taking home the silver medal for the women, Jenna Hastings had some of the cleanest holeshots of the day across the majority of her runs. The blazing fast Kiwi saw her momentum slow just slightly coming into the final.
“It went pretty well. We started off pretty good in the morning, felt pretty good on track and carried it all the way through until the final—those were my worst two laps of the day I think.” said Hastings.
Despite the fervid start to the day, Hastings came up just short to the defending champ and admits nerves may have gotten the best of her in the final.
“I don’t know (what happened),” said Hastings. “I don’t want to say it, but I think Caroline put some pressure on me a little bit. I think maybe because I thought I could beat her because I felt good on track, but obviously she’s the Queen for a reason.”
Rounding out the podium in style, we saw Wade Turner take out podium favourite and defending King of Crankworx Champion Bas van Steenbergen before falling to the fastest man on the day by just over a second in the semi-finals.
With another impressive showing, 17-year-old Sacha Mills showed grace and speed far beyond her years as she earned a career-best Bronze medal battling some of the fastest and most experienced women in the world.
Results: Dual Slalom Cairns
- Jayce Cunning (AUS) // Caroline Buchanan (AUS)
- Ryan Gilchrist (AUS) // Jenna Hastings (NZL)
- Wade Turner (NZL) // Sacha Mills (AUS)
Full results: crankworx.com/results/
Event replay: Red Bull Bike
They day isn’t over just yet, stay tuned for live broadcast action of the Elite finals of the Crankworx Cairns Slopestyle.
Stay up to date with all things Crankworx: crankworx.com
Photos for media use: Flickr
About the Crankworx World Tour
Crankworx is the ultimate experience in mountain biking. Born in Whistler, B.C. in 2004, Crankworx has evolved into a multi-stop international festival series. The Crankworx World Tour brings together the best mountain bike athletes to compete in elite-level competitions in a variety of disciplines. Crankworx World Tour festivals also host races for amateurs, CWNEXT categories for next gen athletes, Kidsworx contests for young riders, participatory events and celebrations of mountain bike culture, all while showcasing amazing destinations. For additional information, visit crankworx.com.