After a consistent season of top 5 finishes including a 2nd at Ireland’s Round 4, Australia’s Sam Hill came to Millau just 20 points behind number 1 ranked Greg Callaghan. Hill had yet another strong race, especially on day two. After a 5th place in Stage 6, the three-time downhill world champ was a favourite for the shortest stage of the race; however, a crash in a greasy left-hander saw him finish Stage 7 five seconds off the pace in 6th. He pulled it all together to take the win in Stage 8 though his two stages outside the top 20 saw local Frenchman, Adrien Dailly, win his second consecutive round and bunny hop Hill in the rankings to 1st overall.
Cecile Ravanel continued her domination in the Pro Women’s category by winning five of the nine stages, cementing her series lead made up of four round wins and a 2nd in Derby.
With a lot of fast Frenchies, 12 in the top 20 Pro Men, the next fastest Aussies were Josh Carlson in 63rd and Australian Enduro National Champ Chris Panozzo, 67th. Stage 1 saw Jared Graves slam his left arm into a rock and unable to continue to Stage 2. Despite the DNF, he’s ranked 14th overall and will be back for Round 6.
“I tucked my front end and sent the left side of my body into slab rock. Resulting in a loss of feeling in my left arm… this will only keep me off my bike for a few days and you better believe I’ll be hitting the next EWS in Aspen in full form and motivation higher than ever!” – Jared Graves, Specialized Racing Team
With three rounds to go, there are still a lot of possible shifts in the overall rankings. Current Australian Downhill National Champ, Jack Moir, has only raced the first two EWS rounds due to his Downhill World Cup focus, but his top 10 results from Rotorua and Derby see him sitting in 27th. Panozzo’s three rounds see him in 47th and Carlson, who finished 10th in the 2016 EWS, is now a father of two and thus missed the first two rounds and is in 50th overall. World Cup downhiller Connor Fearon’s 20th in Rotorua has him 62nd and Flow favourite, James Hall, is in 65th after a 32nd in Derby and a few other respectable finishes.
After only racing the first two rounds, Shelly Flood is the top-ranked Aussie woman in 28th overall and Philippa Norton is close in 33rd. Rowena Fry’s top 10 in Derby sees her in 37th.
The EWS categorises Juniors as Under 21, and as always there are some Aussies to keep an eye on. Blake Pearce has only raced Round 2 in Derby, but his 2nd place there has him rounding out the top 20 overall. Mt Beauty’s Ben McIlroy took the win ahead of Pearce in Derby and his 12th in Rotorua sees him in an impressive 12th overall. As Panozzo’s protege and reigning Enduro Junior National Champion, McIlroy is one to watch. Literally, you can watch him shred Thredbo’s All Mountain trail here.
Round 6 of the EWS is on the last weekend of July, in Aspen Snowmass, USA.