Crankworx kicks off with a bang 

Lopes takes crit, Ropelato dual slalom, Smith the downhill

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While it's impossible to talk about the opening of Crankworx without talking about the weather, it really wasn't that big a deal. While the sun wasn't shining, the rain more or less held off for the events themselves and wasn't much of a factor for athletes.

 

The Fat Tire Criterium

The opening event, the return of the Fat Tire Criterium, got off to a humble start at Whistler Olympic Plaza on Friday with only a few thousand fans lining the course to cheer on the few brave riders that assembled at the start line. There was even a beer garden for spectators.

The format changed slightly with a lower turnout than expected (just six women and 22 men) resulting in shorter races - 15 minutes plus five laps of the 800-metre course for the women, 20 minutes plus five laps for the men. Although shorter in length it wasn't an easy ride with participants sprinting for most of the course and then navigating a few tricky sections - a chicane section on concrete and a gravel corner being the worst - that took out a few riders during training and competition.

It was a tough week to run a criterium, with all of the road and cyclocross racers in the region in the Lower Mainland for Superweek and the Tour de White Rock - a conflict that won't exist next year as Crankworx gets pushed back to August. It was also the cross-country nationals in Canmore, which didn't help.

In the women's race, the Sunshine Coast's Katherine Short - her knee bleeding from a crash in training - put her road skills to the test and worked the lead group like a pro to win two of four $50 primes plus the overall.

"I just tried not to be at the front," said Short. "I've raced a lot of road in the past, which is all about tactics. I didn't want to lead everyone out and then finish last."

Her strategy was to ride second or third then turn on the speed after the last corner to sprint to the finish line, which worked pretty well.

While the pace was tough - riders dropped off in the very first lap - Short said the riders were racing to the length.

"You always try to ride to the length of the race, so if it's a 15 minute race you're riding 95 to 100 per cent the whole time," she said.

As for the format, Short said she would definitely return to ride next year.

"It was so much fun, a super good race, the crowds were great - I loved it, and I would definitely love to do it again."

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