Crankworx 2011: a spectator's guide 

Who to watch and where

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The thing about Crankworx is that it doesn't let up; it just builds and builds until the premiere Red Bull Joyride event on July 23 - and then it keeps going the next day with the revamped Canadian Open Enduro.

You may have noticed that the Crankworx festival jumps around the calendar, taking place in mid-August one year and in mid-July the next. That's not the result of any indecision on the part of the organizers, but rather an attempt to accommodate the always-different UCI World Cup schedule and national championships. They want the best in the world at the start gate when the tires hit the dirt, and they usually succeed.

This year the events get underway this Friday, July 15 and run straight through to July 24, with $164,000 in cash and prizes to be awarded. The biggest share of that is at Red Bull Joyride where $45,000 in prize money is up for grabs, including $25,000 for the overall winner.

As a spectator there's a lot to do and see. If you plan ahead you can probably catch everything. And while many races can be hard to watch because only the last few hundred metres of the course are visible from the village, a partnership with GoPro cameras will mean top to bottom coverage for two events this year, the Jeep Air Downhill and Canadian Open Downhill - a new element that will do more to bring spectators into the races.

And if you can't be there in person then you can watch every event online. Links are at www.crankworx.com, and events will be carried by Freecaster.tv and RedBull.tv, as well as PinkBike.com and other mountain bike sites.

 

July 15 - The main event Opening Day is the revival of the Fat Tire Criterium to Whistler, with mountain bikers going shoulder-to-shoulder on a closed 800-metre loop at Whistler Olympic Plaza. The women race first and the men second, with each race lasting around half an hour.

Each race gets underway with a mass start, but riders will be pulled off course that aren't keeping up or are getting lapped by the leaders. Eventually, only the top eight riders will remain to slug it out over the last five laps.

The cost is $30 to enter and to sweeten the pot there will be some prize money on the line - $2,800 for the top five men and $2,050 for the first five women, with five $100 primes per race handed out on designated laps.

If you've never witnessed a criterium in person, this is a must-see event. Come out to cheer on the riders.

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