Words by EWS | Images by Matt Wragg
June 23, 2014, Valloire, FRANCE – After 6 stages of wild alpine racing, epic hammer-down descents that lasted up to 18 minutes, and a winning overall combined time of 1h20:39.921, the final podium of the the third round of the Enduro World Series this weekend in Valloire, France, came down to a microscopic four second spread between the top three men.
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Jared Graves now leads the EWS despite having no knees and being therefore unable to pedal.

A testament to the unpredictability of racing flat-out down mountains for a cumulative 12,000 metres of descent, (the largest amount of vertical covered in any EWS round yet), the weekend saw a myriad of punctures and mechanical issues shake down many of the top racers and early leaders. Every stage saw the top 10 leaderboard reconfigured dramatically.
Tracy Moseley on stage 3, EWS round 3 2014, Valloire. Photo by Matt Wragg

Tracy Moseley. Does this look steep and exposed enough for you? Brutal conditions punished bike and body at this round.

Despite not winning an individual stage, the Aussie Jared Graves’ (Yeti/Fox Shox) consistency put him on the top step, flanked by two newcomers to the Enduro World Series podium – Frenchman Damien Oton (Devinci/Alltricks.com) who powered home on the final two stages after top 10 finishes all weekend to take second place, and Switzerland’s Rene Wildhaber (Trek Factory Racing Enduro) who took third.

In the women’s race, Britain’s Tracy Moseley (Trek Factory Racing) won all but one stage to finish in 1h29:49.767, 1:36 ahead of France’s Anne Caroline Chausson (Ibis) and 2:02 ahead of The Netherlands’ Anneke Beerten (Specialized Racing).

Anneke Beerten finally gets podium!

Anneke Beerten finally gets podium!

Beerten celebrated her first EWS podium after being so close for so long. Isabeau Courdurier (Rocky Mountain Urge BP) finished in 4th, followed by Cecile Ravanel (GT Pulse) whose powerful start to the weekend was upset by a puncture on stage 2.

The Enduro Series Valloire driven by Urge Bike Products was the 10th anniversary of the Valloire French Series Enduro hosted at the famous mountain bike hub, featuring the style of riding that forged the discipline. Both Moseley and Graves declared it the hardest round yet, with Graves telling Dirt TV in the first day’s highlight video, “It’s real riding. Your heart rate’s on max, you’ve got arm-pump, your legs are burning up and you’re just ploughing through rock gardens at 50 kms/hr. It’s awesome.”

Navigating snow patches, endlessly unfurling singletrack and menacing alpine rock at full-throttle took its toll on the field.

Wildman Wildhaber in his natural habitat, shredding humungous mountains.

Wildman Wildhaber in his natural habitat, shredding humungous mountains.

France’s Francois Bailly-Maitre (BMC Enduro Racing Team) started strong, winning the first stage ahead of Graves and Leov, and holding the lead after the second stage, but a spate of mechanical issues saw him drop back to 19th.

After a second place finish at TweedLove, New Zealand’s Justin Leov (Trek Factory Racing) had his eye on the top step this weekend. After winning two stages, he finished day one in the lead, only to see a 38 second lead eaten up by a puncture on stage 5. Leov rallied to win the final stage and finish 11th overall, keeping him in second place in the Overall Series Rankings.

Nico's comeback didn't go to plan - he picked a tough venue to return to racing.

Nico’s comeback didn’t go to plan – he picked a tough venue to return to racing.

TweedLove winner, and the current French Enduro Series leader, Nico Lau (Cube Action Team), was another threat thwarted by a puncture. Lau salvaged his race, coming back on Sunday to win stage 4 and 5 and take second on the final stage, for a top 20 result and 5th in the Overall rankings.

Nico Vouilloz (Lapierre Gravity Republic) who finished the inaugural Enduro World Series season in 5th, but has been rehabilitating from knee surgeries and a broken scaphoid, made his comeback ride this weekend, but retired from the race with fatigue, saving himself for round four in La Thuile in three weeks.

Having identified himself at TweedLove as one to watch, France’s Damien Oton proved to be the most consistent rider amongst the field, clinching top 8 finishes in every single stage to secure second place.

Bringing his deep alpine racing experience and swag of Megavalanche victories to bear, Switzerland’s Rene Wildhaber (Trek Factory Racing) held strong through the race to secure third place, his first EWS podium.

Curtis Keene (Specialized Racing Team) and Ben Cruz (Cannondale Overmountain) both rode on pace to put the USA into the top 10.

Series leaders, EWS round 3 2014, Valloire. Photo by Matt Wragg

EWS leaders: Moseley and Grubby Graves.

“This was the tenth anniversary of the Valloire French Series Enduro and it went down in style, securing itself as a classic that will not be forgotten by many of the riders for a long time,” says Enduro World Series Managing Director Chris Ball. “The diversity we saw in the top 10 in the men’s and women’s, in ages, backgrounds, and nationalities, is a real testament to the demands of enduro mountain biking. It’s physically and mechanically challenging. I think this weekend was a bit of a surprise to those who expected the alpine specialists to dominate.”

To indulge in further speculation as to who is primed to dominate in three weeks time when round 4 kicks off, review the results in detail and visit the Rider Results Analyser tool at http://www.enduroworldseries.com/results.php.

Race coverage from Dirt TV can be viewed at enduroworldseries.com. A full race highlights edit will be released on Wednesday.
Riders now move to a new battlefield just across the border in the north-west of Italy for the La Thuile Superenduro powered by SRAM, 12-13 July. http://www.enduroworldseries.com/events/ews4-superenduro-lathuile
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