Astle, Hill claim Garbanzo DH titles 

Whistler rider wins women's division while Hill returns to top downhill podium

click to enlarge PHOTO BY FRASER BRITTON/CRANKWORX - LOCALS AND LEGENDS The winners of Crankworx's Garbanzo DH event celebrate on the podium following the race.
  • Photo by Fraser Britton/Crankworx
  • LOCALS AND LEGENDS The winners of Crankworx's Garbanzo DH event celebrate on the podium following the race.

Despite powering through the CamelBak Canadian Open Enduro's gruelling course at Crankworx Whistler to earn second place on Sunday, Sam Hill still had more than enough gas left in the tank to clinch the win during the Garbanzo DH two days later.

"I had no idea how it'd sort of go on such a long track, compared to the other guys," said the Australian mountain biking legend of the seven-kilometre descent. "I was happy with my run and happy to come down and take the hot seat, and then I managed to beat the last few riders' times as well, so that was really cool."

Hill crossed the finish line in 12 minutes, 46.84 seconds (12:46.84) on Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 14, to reclaim the title that last belonged to him 11 years ago.

Jacob Dickson, representing Ireland, took second, finishing just 1.67 seconds behind Hill, while Kiwi Sam Blenkinsop—currently in the lead for the highly coveted King of Crankworx title—rounded out the podium, just 3.25 seconds from the top spot.

"It's a long time since I've raced Garbanzo and quite a while since I've ridden a downhill bike too, so I wasn't expecting too much out there. To win's a nice surprise," Hill said.

Hill also put an end to Colombian Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas's five-year winning streak. After winning the event every year since 2013, an unfortunate turn of events saw Gutierrez Villegas—who "was always going to be the main man to beat," said Hill—finish dead last in the 22-rider pro men's field after suffering a mechanical. He completed the course in 15:45.90, nearly three minutes behind the winner.

While Gutierrez Villegas may have been the only rider to suffer a major issue on course, competitors were challenged with a "super loose and slippery" course, Hill added. "If you get off some of the main lines there's quite a lot of loose rocks on the insides; it gets a little bit drifty. But coming from Australia, it's not the worst thing."

Having a home-course advantage proved worthwhile for the winner of the pro women's race, Whistler's Georgia Astle.

"It's kind of the same Garbo track that I've known and ridden for ages, but I think there were a few sections that I just nailed this year," she said following the race. "They're the same as they've always been—even more eroded—but I just had my line sorted, so it was great for me this year."

Despite taking some time off racing to work full-time this summer, Astle beat out some of the best riders in the world, crossing the finish line in 14:29.74 to earn the win.

She bested fellow local Claire Buchar by 8.57 seconds, while Australian star Tracey Hannah—the reigning Crankworx Downhill Champion and winner of last year's Garbanzo DH—slid into third place, 10 seconds off Astle's pace.

"I pedaled a lot," Astle said with a laugh. "I also took a lot of pressure off of myself today. All I had to do was put a run together, it wasn't like I was nervous for anything in particular. I was kind of middle-of-the-pack, so I was pumped to be in the hot seat, but it's still so fun to watch the other girls come down and see that your time is still up there."

Full results are available online at www.crankworx.com.

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