Sink or Swim: Downhill Finals - Crankworx Les Gets 2016

Jun 19, 2016
by Nathan Hughes  
Les Gets




New day, new prospects... same old mud. The morning commute up into the clouds on Mont Chery was a long one; wintery temperatures were spliced with intermittent doses of heavy rain and the water-logged track took yet another irrecoverable hit. Riders soon found the mud to be just that bit thicker and the ruts that bit deeper than they were only a day ago, while back in the pits the mechanics found the mud to be just as much a pain in the ass as it had been all week.

After one quick and final temper tantrum from the weather gods just before the junior final, it was nothing but blue skies for the remainder of the day as the sun emerged to burn off the fog. However, instead of help on track, it hindered, concocting a nasty paste to create arguably the worst conditions of just about any race in recent memory. Riders gave it their all regardless, some claiming glory and others going down in a blaze of that same glory.

For the women, it would be Morgane Charre who regained her form in front of a home crowd taking the win with an aggressive ride, the likes of which we have not seen from her in some time. In the men's race it would be Remi Thirion who threw down the gauntlet early on, and while some came close, most literally blew up trying. Most notably Mike Jones, Loris Vergier, Joe Smith, and Fabien Barel, who all had massive crashes in an effort to unseat the Frenchman from his throne. In the end, the boisterous French fans got what they came to see; team France dominating the top steps of the podium.



Sink or Swim Downhill Finals - Crankworx Les Gets 2016
It's a long road to the top if you wanna rock and roll.

Second in yesterday s qualifier was French rider and Les Gets sponsored Romain Paulhan.
Second in yesterday's qualifier was French rider and Les Gets sponsored, Romain Paulhan.

Flying into the fog in the early morning session.
Flying into the fog in the early morning session.

Sam Blenkinsop trying to avoid the massive ruts.
Trying to avoid the massive ruts and find race speed simultaneously.

Finn Iles shut it down here in Les Gets with a victory of almost 10 seconds.
Finn Iles shut it down here in Les Gets with a victory of almost 10 seconds.

Brendog reclines before getting rowdy on the way down.
Brendog reclines before getting rowdy on the way down.

Another day of adverse conditions for the lensmen.
Another day of adverse conditions for the lensmen of the mountain.
Sink or Swim Downhill Finals - Crankworx Les Gets 2016
At least shooting mist hanging in the trees never gets old.

Above the gondola riders had to endure a slow and cold chairlift ride to access the top of the track on Mont Chery.
It was an in and out morning for visibility high on Mont Chery.

World cup sender Florent Payet performed brilliantly on home soil for 7th.
World cup sender, Florent Payet, performed brilliantly on home soil for 7th.

Sink or Swim Downhill Finals - Crankworx Les Gets 2016
The top chair felt painfully slow in the freezing rain.

Sink or Swim Downhill Finals - Crankworx Les Gets 2016
Smashing through the last twigs of heather still standing.

Sam Blenkinsop hammering the waterlogged turns of the top section.
Sam Blenkinsop hammering the waterlogged turns of the top section.

It s possible there was actually just a little more grip in this turn than any other.
It's possible there was actually just a little more grip in this turn than any other.

This Crankworx conditions have been mixed ... at best.
This Crankworx, conditions have been 'mixed'... at best.

Sick Mick breaks free of the muddy woods and heads for the rutted and sloppy open slope.
'Sik Mik' breaks free of the muddy woods and heads for the rutted and sloppy open slope.

Marcelo goes full moto wishing he had a throttle though to get across the boggy bits lower down.
Marcelo goes full moto, wishing he had a throttle to get across the boggy bits lower down.

After a quick storm rolled through just before racing bit underway Finn Iles and the rest of the Junior men had it the worst today for their final runs.
After a quick storm rolled through just before racing got under way, Finn Iles and the rest of the Junior men had it the worst today for their final runs.

Kevin Joly is psyched to do battle with the mud on Loris Vergier s Demo.
Kevin Joly is psyched to do battle with the mud on Loris Vergier's Demo.
Lots of little tricks about in the pits in an effort to keep the mud out of important components.
Lots of little tricks about in the pits in an effort to keep the mud out of important components.

Les Gets village.
Les Gets village finally bathed in the good stuff.

The sun finally appeared only to make matters a whole lot worse.
The sun finally appeared after lunch only to make matters a whole lot worse.

It was a jungle out there today.
It was a jungle out there today.

Privateer life going well for Melvin with a super strong 5th place
Privateer life going well for Melvin Pons with a super strong 5th place!

Sink or Swim Downhill Finals - Crankworx Les Gets 2016
Miranda Miller on the hunt, taking 4th in the Canadian-esque conditions.

Rain and fog heavy at times was the story for most of the early morning practice session.
Rain and fog, heavy at times, was the story for most of the early morning practice session.

Phil Atwill one of many riders to have a bit of nightmare out there this week.
Phil Atwill, one of many riders to have a bit of nightmare out there this week.

It s starting to look like a rain forest in the French Alps right now after weeks of heavy rain.
It's starting to look like a rain forest in the French Alps right now after weeks of heavy rain.

Casey Brown was bucked off in the deep mud and sludge before the road gap.
Casey Brown was bucked off in the deep mud and sludge before the road gap.

As the sun finally broke through and the fog started to burn off it looked and felt like a sauna trackside.
As the sun finally broke through and the fog started to burn off it looked and felt like a sauna trackside.

Birthday boy Eliot Jackson snakes through the rutted out corkscrew section.
Birthday boy, Eliot Jackson, snakes through the rutted out corkscrew section.

Fabien had a phenomenal time but the course tape on his bars explains why he ended the day with a DQ.
Fabien had a phenomenal time, but the course tape on his bars hints as to why he ended the day with a DQ.
Fabian Barel s Canyon.
Barel's filthy Sender.

Jill Kinter smashing through the stream on the way to 5th and the mission to bring home the Queen of Crankworx grand prize.
Jill Kintner smashing through the stream on the way to 5th and the mission to bring home the Queen of Crankworx grand prize.

Nothing about this race has been easy...
Nothing about this race has been easy...

Moir with a great finish today taking the bottom step on the podium..
Intense's, Jack Moir with a great finish today taking the bottom step of the podium.

Remember the bush that was in between the tape the other day It met a violent end.
Remember the bush that was in between the tape for track walk? It met a violent end.

Alex Marin hovering above the slop with overloaded tyre treads.
Alex Marin hovering above the slop with overloaded tyre treads.

Marin rounds one of the final treacherous turns.
Marin rounds one of the final treacherous turns.

It s was good to see Rafael the younger of the Gutierrez brothers make the trip over from Colombia to mix it up in the French mud. He managed to qualify in the top 10 but a crash in the final ended his high hopes in the final.
It was good to see Rafael, the younger of the Gutierrez brothers, make the trip over from Colombia to mix it up in the French mud. He managed to qualify in the top 10, but a crash in the final ended his high hopes in the final.

Loic Bruni shows us how he s healing and how he s feeling about not getting to race these past few weeks.
Loic Bruni shows us how he's healing, and how he's feeling about not getting to race these past few weeks.

Brook MacDonald knows how to muscle it through an axle deep rut.
Brook Macdonald knows how to muscle it through an axle deep rut.

Blenkinsop looked on top of the gnarly conditions but couldn t manage to crack the top ten today.
Blenkinsop looked on top of the gnarly conditions but couldn't manage to crack the top ten today.

Joe Smith looked fast and aggressive in practice but would struggle with crashes in the rapidly thickening mud during his race run.
Joe Smith looked fast and aggressive in practice but would struggle with crashes in the rapidly thickening mud during his race run.

Adam works on his drift multiplier.
Adam Brayton works on his drift multiplier.

The ruts were eating a lot of bikes and riders today.
The ruts were eating a lot of bikes and riders today.

Bernard Kerr flying into 8th place.
Bernard Kerr flying into 8th place.

Greg gets ready to dab through this rut section.
Greg Williamson gets ready to dab through this rut section on route to 10th.

It s great to see Miranda Miller healthy and mixing it up at the top again. with a 4th here and a 3rd last week in Leogang she leaves Europe on a high note.
Fantastic to have Miranda Miller healthy and mixing it up at the top again with a 4th place here and a 3rd last week in Leogang. She leaves Europe on a high note.

A strong finish for Emilie today in the mud.
A strong finish for Emilie Siegenthaler today in the mud.

Thomas Estaque had the weekend of his days riding to fifth place.
Thomas Estaque, riding to fifth place.

Morgane Charrhas looked extremely comfortable all weekend in the mud and being a life long flat pedal rider had no issues whatsoever. Unlike many of the other women who had switched from clips for this race only.
Morgane Charre looked extremely comfortable all weekend in the mud, and being a lifelong flat pedal rider, had no issues whatsoever. Unlike many of the other women who had switched from clips for this race only. Her victory was more than decisive at a whopping 25 second advantage.

The tape on the handlebar tells the tale.
The tape on the handlebar tells the tale.

Brendan Fairclough fully committed through this super high speed muddy turn right out of the gate.
Brendan Fairclough fully committed through this super high-speed muddy turn right out of the gate.

Stoked to get up on the podium this afternoon it s Brendawg.
Stoked to get up on the podium this afternoon, it's Brendawg.

Remi Thirion is a master of technical tracks and mud.
Remi Thirion is a master of technical tracks and mud.

After Romain Paulhan crached out he left Mike Jones as the only man at the top who could take the win away from Remi.
After Romain Paulhan crashed out he left Mike Jones as the only man at the top who could take the win away from Remi.
Romain Paulhan still stoked although he couldn t back up his incredible qualie after a crash.
Romain still stoked although he couldn't back up his incredible quali after hitting the deck.

Mike Jones returns to base with his peak smashed off for the second time this race season.
Mike Jones returns to base with his peak smashed off for the second time this race season.

Mike Jones took a huge tumble in the fastest part of the track sliding for quite a ways through the farmland that lines the track as you can see from the state of his shoe.
Jones took a huge tumble in the fastest part of the track, sliding for quite a ways through the farmland that lines the track, as you can see from the state of his shoe.

Thirion s race machine tired and muddied from battle in front of the hotseat.
Thirion's race machine, tired and muddied from battle in front of the hot seat.
Taking the win by just more than 2 seconds.
Taking the win by just more than two seconds.

Today s winners.
Today's fastest: Thirion, Fairclough, Moir and Charre, Siegenthaler, Hannah.

It s always nice to wash the mud off with some cool and crips Champagne.
It's always nice to wash the mud off with some cool, crisp Champagne.
Sink or Swim Downhill Finals - Crankworx Les Gets 2016
For king and country... French racers, Remi and Morgane did the business here at Crankworx France! Sante!

The champagne flies signalling the end of a big week for everyone involved.
Champagne fills the air... signalling the end of a big week for everyone involved.

Sink or Swim Downhill Finals - Crankworx Les Gets 2016
When it's this filthy, it helps to have a pit by a fresh mountain stream to freshen up in between runs.
When it s this sloppy it helps to have a pit by a fresh mountain stream to freshen up in between runs.
Time to get clean folks... Cheers Les Gets, it's been more than memorable!


MENTIONS: @natedh9 / @davetrump



Must Read This Week

58 Comments

  • + 168
 Brendog, I think I speak for many when I say that it's awesome to see you on that podium. Well deserved!
  • + 4
 but what tires did he run? Doesn't look like DirtyDans to me...
  • + 1
 @tabletop84: Looks like he used cut Dirty Dans (removed the tiny side knobs).
  • + 3
 @tabletop84: Specialized Storm tyres on his bike this weekend
  • + 5
 @tabletop84: I think it is the Onza Minion!
  • + 41
 GREATEST PHOTO EPIC EVER!!!! That had to be the most fun that has ever been had on two wheels!
  • + 2
 Agreed ! Respect to all the rider for racing in these conditions.
  • + 31
 Saddest chairlift photo ever...
  • + 3
 That bought back memories for me! I don't know if it was the same lift or not, but I did one similar when skiing. Zero protection from the elements and so cold it is painful. You feel like you are dying, especially if it is first thing before you've warmed up... Good times!
  • + 3
 @slimboyjim: yepp, same here few years ago on the other side of Les Gets in the Chavanne lift. It was pouring rain at about 10° C and I was soaked to the bone, I thought I was gonna be frozen stiff by the time I got to the top....
  • + 1
 @slimboyjim: That's what Pass'portes Du Soleil was like a few of years ago in the same area. We packed it in about half way round and hit the pub instead...
  • + 20
 Amazing shots. Never seen anything like it! Mike Jones' Leatt lid without peak may actually be an improvement...
  • + 2
 the only time a peakless helmet will look better!
  • + 16
 Apparently, it was muddy.
  • + 13
 Lol ..slopestyle and pumptrack guys are like the coarse is to soft and conditions aren't great... Downhill guys are like rain, mud and unpredictable coarse condition let's fucking do this...
  • + 2
 maybe so, but the DH boys aren't doing 720s and cash rolls........need a fair bit of speed for those
  • + 10
 Imagine how long it would take to get that mud off a bike! Kudos to those mechanics!
  • + 5
 I've raced XC a few times in that sort of mud. It can become more of a spectacle than proper race. But everyone is riding the same conditions so it's fair, but luck can be the difference between doing well or not and not skill. One race at Grouse Mountain was cold and wet. There was a hole that the course went into that turned into a pit. Riders wheels went in about halfway to the hub, the rider went over the bars and the bike pivoted around the stuck wheel then saddle nailed them in the ass. More than one rider scrambled out only to discover a shoe had been sucked off by mud. Almost everyone had Velcro shoe straps fail from being too muddy from running through muck. Most bikes had lost a grip as this was before lockons.
  • + 8
 Miranda Miller on the rise! Pure determination in that woman!
  • + 5
 Man that is rowdy. Cool to see such a different race, from the track, to the conditions to the eventual podium. Thanks for the coverage Pinkbike. Truly top shelf.
  • + 7
 That photo of Finn Iles staring through his muddied helmet: I call POD
  • + 8
 I love that shot and we'll probably see it on a poster soon but my favorite shot of the whole set is the one of Brook MacDonald powering through that rut
  • + 1
 The photo just above it with the foot deep rut looks mad too!!
  • + 6
 blenki with gloves :0
  • + 1
 Not sure if has wearing them because he had to, or if he wanted to in this case.
  • + 7
 @qldmtb: French rules... He has to were them
  • + 1
 @TrailZone: joe smith isnt wearing gloves...
  • + 2
 @digr: think he had to take them off after a crash so he could still hold the bars
  • + 2
 Now this is some quality coverage! This makes it look sick and not a "peanut butter" or a "bullet dodged" in my ears! Nice work Pink Bike.
  • + 2
 note to self: Don't bother riding Les Gets this year. After that beating I guess those trails are gonna be shite for a while!
  • + 1
 They are always shite but this year they will be extra shite with shite on top ;P
  • + 1
 Great photo epic but i was dying to see pictures of hose pipes spraying the bikes. It's such a satisfying feeling and with that amount of filth a photo would look good.
  • + 2
 Can I just set this entire photo epic as my desktop background? Stellar work.
  • + 1
 That caliper cover is an ingenious idea. I am going to make one the moment I get home.
  • + 2
 Looks like hell on wheels, doubtful that many riders considered it "fun"
  • + 1
 This has to be the muddiest race I've ever seen. At least at this level. Kudos to all who tackled this beast.
  • + 2
 I like the banana topped curve title best.
  • + 1
 "For King and country"??

The french revolution happend, you know? Or didn't you?
  • + 1
 the Bulldog and Fairclough pics are absolute classics. Excellent work Nathan and Dave.
  • + 2
 this is how WC races should be
  • + 4
 Said no one ever. Looked like a CX race.
  • - 4
flag Medacus Plus (Jun 20, 2016 at 1:11) (Below Threshold)
 It it wasn't for the mud it would have been the easiest most boring course ever, it wasn't even close to being WC standard
  • + 0
 Then I'd stop watching world cup races. This photo epic is a million times better than the actual race looked - at least compared to the live coverage.
  • + 1
 Looks like there was an actual water fall on the course in the one photo. Crazy!
  • + 1
 what's the device on the goggle?
  • + 1
 roll-off sistem
  • + 1
 some great photos here. looked fun cheers
  • + 2
 That poor trail
  • + 1
 Got pix like that from Les Gets WC 1999!
  • + 2
 crazy track!!
  • + 1
 Those ruts. So moto. Wow.
  • + 1
 Jones made his run with some of the crappiest shoes I've seen in awhile...
  • + 0
 Why is there no video for this....was it not on live?
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