Enduro could well be the fastest growing discipline of mountain bike racing and when you have a look at what is going on at the Enduro World Series, you can see why! We have just witnessed rounds 3 and 4 take place in La Thuile Italy and so far this year the racing has been quite phenomenal. We’re going to take a look back at these last 2 rounds and answer the question of why Enduro is so great to watch!
Rounds 3 and 4 took place in La Thuile, Italy. This area has stupendously steep slopes on which to race bicycles and thus has made another appearance at the Enduro World Series after its last time in 2018. The beauty of the EWS is that it visits a wide variety of locations every year and often includes completely new ones as well!
In 2022 the EWS will visit 11 destination of which 4 are new to the series! Find out more info on the 2022 Calendar here. The extensive palette of terrains that will host races throughout the season reveals which of the racers are truly the masters able to handle their bikes with precision in a range of conditions.
If you are unfamiliar with how Enduro racing works, it is not too complicated. Riders will complete a set course of around 30km. Certain sections of that course are designated “Stages” (4 per race is typical) that riders will race down in time-trial style with 30 second gaps. These Stages are majority downhill but often have a punch climb (up to 1min 30 as we saw this week in La Thuile!) to add to the challenge. The total time of all the Stages is added up and the fastest rider wins. The Stages vary in length and style but will generally be longer than 3 minutes to race (and up to 15mns in some cases!) with a large volume of technical features and corners to test the riders. And of course the riders only get to practice each stage once before racing.
This format of racing makes consistency a key player in performance. With total racing times in excess of 20 minutes, it is incredible that we have seen wins decided by less than a second this season such as in Round 1 at Val Di Fassa. The sport it getting more competitive each year and has recently received significant investment from Discovery Inc and Play Sports Group this year with the goal of supercharging the media and hopefully making live broadcast a reality for the sport!
What Happened At Round 4?
Round 4 on Saturday and Sunday was action packed! ALN took the women’s Pro Stage win on Saturday with a 7 second lead, really looking like she had capitalised on the confidence gained from a podium at Round 3. She would lead the race until the final stage on Sunday where she had a major crash and dropped back over 5 minutes with mechanical damage. Harriet Harnden, the first year Elite, would take the opportunity to claim her first EWS win ahead of Melanie Pugin and Isabeau Courdurier. The French domination has been thwarted!
It was Richie Rude who kicked things off with the Men’s Pro Stage win on Saturday but Jack Moir was less than a second behind! They would trade Stage wins until Richie lost 11 seconds on Stage 4 and Jack keep up a consistent intensity to win his 2nd Round of the 2021 season! 2 wins each for these competitors and the battle goes on! A notable performance from Zakarias Johansen as he earned his first ever EWS podium with 3rd place on the day! Top 10 overall below and series standings at the bottom of page.
When it comes to the riders who battle for the top step at an EWS event, it is hard to find a better rounded athlete. They of course have incredible technical skills to be able to descend at high speed on unfamiliar trails for 20 minutes or more per event, but their fitness is often underestimated.
The riders have the strength to handle big Enduro bikes that are seldom under 15kg, pedalling them up 2000m vertical worth of climbing at some rounds, and also lay down a powerful sprint during a stage to be competitive (see video below).
These athletes are incredibly fit and come from a variety of backgrounds. Jack Moir and Richie Rude, for example, have both raced on the World Cup Downhill circuit and have been trading wins at each round this season while Harriet Harnden, who just won her first Elite EWS event, is still racing XCO World Cups in the gaps between EWS events!
Riders will all play to their strengths but over such a long period of racing, it is the overall fittest, strongest, and most skilled that earn the podium spots!
The 2021 Season has 4 more events lined up for this year of which the next round will be the 2nd and 5th of September in France. Stay tuned for more of the best mountain biking action!
Enduro World Series Website for more info
EWS TV for video highlights