The day that many were waiting for, the Enduro. In the Crankworx calendar was a particularly large event, the first round of the highly anticipated Enduro World Series.
The first round of any series brings a buzz of excitement with everything new again, and this case with the whole EWS show still in its relative infancy all eyes were turned on Rotorua for the season opener. And what happened up in the forests of the famous mountain biking town in New Zealand will leave a legacy, and a reputation for one of the most demanding and exciting races we’ve seen yet.
Seven stages, with an immensely wide variety of terrain that served up a unique challenge in each. The liaison stages were long, and the riders were certainly pushed in all aspects of their ability, in true enduro fashion.
It was a French affiar at the pointy end of the pro men and women’s field with a closely fought battle. Jerome Clemetz, and Anne Caroline Chausson taking the top steps.
The spectators were loud, and the forest was howling with mad fans baying for blood and to catch a glimpse of the big internationals slaying their trails. It’s a real spectacle to spectate in an EWS race, and the whole concept is exciting to watch unfold. With a new appreciation for how tough and crazy fast the top riders are, we eagerly await round two in Ireland, 8 weeks time.
Check out the official Enduro World Series site for the course preview, and full results.
1- Jérôme Clémentz
2- Fabien Barel
3- Wyn Masters
4- Justin Leov
5- Florian Nicolai
6- Nico Vouilloz
7- Sam Blenkinsop
8- Matt Walker
1- Anne Caroline Chausson
2- Tracy Moseley
3- Cécile Ravanel
4- Aneeke Beerten
5- Megghie Bichard
6- Ines Thoma
7- Rosara Joseph
The mad Frenchman, Cedric Gracia. Tunes cranking in his ears, and clearly loving it as he heads off for a bloody big day at work.
A magnificent starting stage, at the mighty Pohutu Geyser. The largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere.
Sam Hill, mixing it up with the enduro crowd. He would then go on to win stage 7, which was predominantly the same track as the downhill race a day earlier.
Out of the steam, and into the fire.
Sydney’s Gen McKew, not alone feeling anxious in the start gate.
Anne Caro means business, game face on. Little did she know that later that afternoon, she’d be on the top step.
The Pōwhiri ceremonial welcome will chill your bones, or send you running.
Josh Carlson keen to get the first round of the series done safe and sound, and build from here, all year.
A calm and collected Nico, when is he not?
Sounds like a steam rain coming, Dan Atherton was breathing hard, at max effort in the sprints.
Sam Blenkinsop, third place in the downhill only a day earlier, takes seventh in the enduro.
Wyn on a roll! Is this his new thing? Killing it with a third place amongst VERY fierce company.
Rosara Joseph keeping it level, and cleaning the steep trails easily.
Peak hour traffic on the steepest part of stage one.
Richie Rude, needing a lighter touch to get through this one.
How Damien Oton managed to pull this off, we won’t ever understand. Knee draggin!? Shit.
Joe Barnes swinging off the back with his trademark committed style.
Knee dragging, that’s more wild than foot dragging.
Justin Leov, this guy is our hero! Winning stage two, and keeping it consistent to take fourth overall. He was looking so solid on course, and his nice white jersey kept that way all day long.
The liaison stages were long in distance, but not in time. It was a tough one to get around to all the stages.
Locals getting into it, in their likeable and cheeky manner.
Gone. But not out.
Cecile Ravanel, overall third place winner was so composed in her riding all day. Not one to look like she was going too fast, just consistent and it paid off.
Anne Caro, taking tougher more lines than any in her field.
Barel, on a mission.
Lighter and more agile than anyone else out there, Jerome Clementz early on. Winning three out of the seven stages, Jerome was on a flyer all day.
Iago Garay, first elite male down the hill. The Spaniard has a real downhiller style on the bike.
Curtis Keene going down, so close.
Nico Voullioz, with his alien-like agility through switchback turns. Sixth on the day for the seasoned guru.
Josh Carlson admitted to be riding well within his limits this weekend, with the whole year unscathed a priority for him.
The popular Kiwi shredder, Raewyn Morrison, blending cross country strength, local knowledge, with killer enduro performance. 11th on the day for her with a super-consistent ride.
Jerome on the hunt through the Billy T fast sections.
No time to chill, Oton, not chilling.
Remy Absalon, never on the brakes for long.
Gracia, popping over anything in his path. He doesn’t mind spending a fair bit of time in the air over trails that he wouldn’t exactly know that well.
Leov rolling on the 29″ wheels, and Shimano XTR Di2.
The pace that Rosara came through here was kinda frightening. On her way to a seventh place finish overall.
Cecile Ravanel, boosting doubles, slamming turns like a downhiller.
Josh Carlson, killing it on the downhill stage, #6.
Cedric avoiding the roots.
You can hear Fabien coming, his focussed breathing technique is loud, but obviously effective!
Nico, so light and easy.
Pretty sure Curtis Keene hit this section as hard as the downhillers that this trail would normally see.
Anne Caro riding the DH section of the course so hard, it’s kinda freaky to watch.
Jerome, home stretch to the overall win.
Martin Maes, probably wasn’t planning on jumping this section, but carrying the speed he had just made stayin on the ground too hard. Boost!
Last man down, Damien Oton. The way he jumps on the gas out of turns is astonishing. So much confidence.
Done! Whilst our coverage featured predominantly the elite field (due to the media arrangement at Crankworx) there was a large field of pinned amateurs too, enduro is a bloody big undertaking to finish, and a World Series one is the top of them all.