The start of a new season in the Enduro World Series is always a joyous occasion. For Curtis Keene, it’s a chance to put all the pieces together and get back to winning. But the road to victory is fraught with uncertain and unfavourable conditions.
There have only ever been three Enduro World Champions in the Men’s category Two of those were riding for the Yeti / Fox Shox Factory Race Team.
With Richie Rude the reigning champion and current series leader, we look at the team and what makes it so special.
An American swept the locals aside in the final round of the Elite Men’s Downhill at the 2015-16 Subaru National MTB Series at Jubilee Park, Toowoomba on Sunday.
2015 World Enduro Series Champion Richie Rude (USA) produced a sub 2min50second ride to defeat, home-town favourite Jared Graves (QLD) and Thomas Crimmins (NSW).
Rude, who was using the event as training for the up-coming Enduro World Series, qualified second fastest in seeding behind his former Yeti team-mate in Graves, and then produced a clean run to achieve his goal for the weekend.
“Finally beat Jared after he got me last weekend.”
“It’s great we have a friendly rivalry but pretty happy I beat him on his home track.”
Graves, was more than two seconds faster than the American during Saturday’s seeding, but couldn’t match Rude’s effort when it counted, finishing with silver less than a second behind.
“Can’t complain I had a clean run just wasn’t fast enough, but happy especially how tricky conditions were.”
Crimmins recorded his best result of the series with a third.
Despite having wrapped up the series after his thrilling Thredbo run, Graeme Mudd (NSW) was still hoping to cap things off with a top of the podium placing, but would finish fifth, six seconds behind the winner.
“Had a really good series up until today. And bit bummed would’ve been nice to finish on a good note but that’s racing.”
Mudd, tho has two weeks to turn it around ahead of the 2016 Subaru Australian Championships in Bright, where he’ll come up against third ranked rider in the world South Australian Troy Brosnan.
“I guess it’s made me more keen and more aggressive with my preparation ahead of champs in a couple of weeks.”
In the Junior Men, Jackson Frew (NSW) again had the better of Remy Morton (QLD) in their battle down the hill with the GT Factory rider crossing the finish line in 2min51:05seconds more than a second ahead of his rival.
Full results: http://onlineresults.com.au/Home
Over his career, there isn’t much that Jared Graves has set his mind to that he hasn’t accomplished, whether it’s been competing at the highest levels of BMX, crit racing, 4X, downhill, or enduro.
Tenacious and determined, Jared embodies natural talent on the bike, and we couldn’t be more stoked to announce that he’s joined the Specialized family.
Look for him next year on the EWS circuit aboard an S-Works Enduro.
“I am pumped to join forces with Specialized, no other brand has the full compliment of top-shelf bikes and gear and the level of commitment to success. The whole team is setup really well with the best support, the best mechanics and the best teammates. Racing with my old buddy Curtis Keene is going to be unreal, we have been buds forever and now to be teammates, I am confident we can help each other and both become better riders through the process.” Said Graves.
Molloy & Mudd Crowned Series Winners at the the Subaru National Mountain Bike Series in Toowoomba Queensland
The Series, hosted by Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA), started in December 2014 and spanned five states, finishing up today with a classic Downhill race that saw Toowoomba local legend and 2014 Enduro World Champion Jared Graves (QLD) battle America’s Richie Rude Jr for gold.
Graves was ranked first after yesterday’s seeding run – a run which saw him as the first rider to post a time below 2m40s on the tough ‘McKenzie Frenzy’ trail all week – and today, Graves didn’t disappoint.
Racing as the last rider down the hill, Graves not only beat out his own seeding time, but he also sped into first place, taking the win from second placed Richie Rude Jr, who just a few days ago usurped him at the Oceania Championships.
“I was a bit gutted the other day,” said Graves. “To get one back today feels good”.
While 2014 World Championships Bronze medallist Troy Brosnan (SA) was undefeated in the first two rounds of the series, his rare absence due to a team training camp in America meant the series winner crown was up for grabs in Queensland.
Graeme Mudd (NSW) today added a bronze medal to a series of top three results, securing himself the Subaru National Series crown in the process.
In Under 19 action, Max Warshawsky (QLD) had a great run, finishing 2.11 seconds in front of Jackson Frew (ACT) and Andrew Crimmins (NSW). Crimmins earned the overall Junior Series title.
In the Elite Women’s race, it was all about 2015 Junior World Champion Tegan Molloy (NSW) who finished her run in 3m11s, 8.63 seconds in front of second placed rider Sarah Booth (NSW).
Molloy has taken gold in two out of three downhill races this Series, adding the National Series overall winner title to her Oceania Champion medal, in what was a highly successful Toowoomba trip.
On her first series win in the Elite category, Molloy said:
“It’s pretty cool stepping up from juniors and then taking the Elite series – I had solid races this year”.
Ellie Wale took out the U19 Women’s race today and was also crowned the Junior Series Winner.
Special mention goes to Coleen Boyes (NSW) who rode to gold in the Women’s Masters 5/6 Category, posting a time that would have seen her take sixth among the Elite females.
Short Course Cross Country
In this morning’s short course, it was Rebecca Henderson (ACT) who took the win in the Elite Women’s race, securing herself the overall Series winner crown for the year, with Em Parkes (VIC) and Holly Harris (NSW) rounding out the podium.
In the Elite Men’s category, racing was fast and furious with bunches at the front forming, breaking and re-forming throughout the race.
Initially it was Paul van der Ploeg (VIC) that led the men as they sped around the course, but it wasn’t long before the Toowoomba crowd was treated to another battle between Dan McConnell (ACT) and Anton Cooper (NZ).
Unfortunately today Cooper dropped his chain on the final lap, allowing McConnell to ride comfortably to his third gold medal this week
The win also gave the overall series title to McConnell, the third-ranked Cross Country rider in the world.
This afternoon also saw the National Series prize pack drawn, with all riders who entered the 2014-15 Subaru National Series provided with an entry in the draw for each race entered.
The prize, which includes airfares, accommodation, car hire and tickets for two to the 2015 MTB World Championships in Andorra, was awarded by a lucky draw to 2013-14 National Series winner Cameron Ivory (NSW).
Racing continues in just 12 days with the Subaru Australian Mountain Bike Championships in Bright, Victoria, where riders will go head to head in a fight for the National Champion title.
The 2015 Championships will offer a feast of mountain biking disciplines for riders, with Cross Country, Downhill, Observed Trials and Cross-Country Eliminator all running, and competition will be fierce across both elites and age-groupers alike.
The festival that is the championships will feature the innaugural MTBA Achievement Awards dinner, as well workshops and courses, many of which are free to attend.
All information about the National Championships can be found online at: http://mtb.subaru.com.au/national-championships/
All information about the National Series can be found online at: http://mtb.subaru.com.au/national-series/
Full results for this weekend can be found online at: http://www.onlineresults.com.au
Connor Fearon, Tegan Molloy and Paul Van der Ploeg have all recorded wins to complete an Australian Elite-level whitewash of the 2015 Oceania Mountain Bike Championships in Tooowoomba, Queensland presented by Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA).
Downhill mountain bike racing is said to be one of the hardest challenges in world sport, requiring a unique combination of skill, fitness and bravery.
In the Elite Men’s race, the hot favourite for the win was local Jared Graves (QLD), a rider who has helped design and build the ‘McKenzie Frenzy’ course.
Graves is a true superstar in the world of cycling, and the 2014 Enduro World Champion has almost unparalleled results across a myriad of dirt cycling disciplines.
Today Graves was fast enough on his home track to walk away with the silver, but it was Connor Fearon (SA) who was on fire, finishing the challenging course in 2m 40.16s to earn the title of Oceania Champion.
On finishing in front of Jared Graves: “I wasn’t expecting that,” Fearon said. “It’s his track and he’s riding really well and he’s fitter than anyone else so I knew he’d be almost impossible to beat.
“I’m sure he’ll be trying harder on Sunday so I’ll have to try to stay in front of him.
“Last year I did well but I was actually pretty disappointed. I had some crashes and some bad luck. So this year I want to be in the top 20 every race and fight for a podium at each race and hopefully finish inside the top ten this year.”
Bronze went to 2013 Oceania Downhill champion Chris Kovarik (QLD).
In women’s racing, Tegan Molloy (NSW) is the reigning Junior World Champion but has stepped up to the Elite in 2015, and she continued her rapid ascent to the top with her second win at the highest level delivering her the Oceania Championship.
“It’s pretty cool to get a title in the Elite ranks coming up from junior, it’s a bit of a step up and I was stoked to come away with the win today,” said Molloy.
“This is the first time I’ve been here [to Toowoomba] – this morning it was pretty tricky to ride, it was so muddy I was just struggling for the bike to roll so I only ended up having one practice run, so I was coming in to racing a little bit blind.
She spoke of the challenge that awaits in two week’s time at the National Championships: “Tracey [Hannah] will be there – it should be a good battle between us I think. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top.”
Second place went to Sophie Tyas (NZL) and third to Michelle Crisp (NSW).
Special mention goes to Richie Rude Jr (USA) and Claire Buchar (CAN) who are not riders from within the Oceania-confederation, but who both walked away with the fastest times of the day.
Cross Country Eliminator
Today also saw the Elite Men battle it out to be crowned the 2015 Oceania Cross Country Eliminator Champion, a title that was eventually bestowed upon Australia’s Paul van der Ploeg (VIC).
In his first Eliminator race since the UCI World Championships in 2014, van der Ploeg rode strongly against New Zealand’s Cross Country National Champion Anton Cooper in an exciting final that saw riders go up against tough conditions.
“It was pretty crazy racing with lots of rain last night, the course was very muddy for the time trial,” said van der Ploeg.
The 2013 Eliminator World Champion from Victoria has spent much of the last 18 months recovering from two shoulder reconstructions, but said he is happy with his performance today and excited to be back on the trails.
“It’s been awhile since I won something so it’s a good confidence booster and really good mentally to get a win on the board, especially against someone like Anton who is a super fast rider,” van der Ploeg explained.
The mountain bike action continues with the final round of the 2014/15 Subaru National Series, where Australia’s best riders will once again take to the Cross Country course in an attempt to take out the National Series crown.
For all Oceania and Series information, please visit:
For full 2015 Oceania Championship Results:
The Sun comes out as racing heats up at the RockShox Enduro Challenge Powered by SRAM.
After shivering through what felt like arctic temperatures earlier in the week, the sun came out today in Mt Buller with perfect for Enduro Racing. We saw the strongest ever Enduro field assembled in Australia with no less than seven (7) World Champions taking to the start line. Saturdays Prologue winner Jared Graves led the field out on stage one, but with the only time factors being an overall limit it was soon Ryan Del La Rue, trail builder of many of the stages at Mt Buller, took the role of sweeping the road.
In an unexpected move, Chain Reaction Cycles pair Sam Hill and Mike Jones, soon took over this role, ultimately completing all 6 stages over 30 minutes ahead of the rest of the field. A timing error on stage 5 saw the duo redo stage 5, but as it was the most DH of the stages, including a chairlift uplift there were no complaints.
Ultimately, Graves was too strong for the rest of the field, taking the quickest time on 5 of 6 stages, only losing out to a puncture on the Ski School Step that claimed more than 1 tyre over the weekend of racing. Total racing time was 23:20:05.
Specialized Rider, Troy Brosnan was on fire all day taking home second place just under 1 minute behind Graves. Clearly this DH rider can pedal as well.
Ryan De La Rue, who spends his days on an excavator for World Trial, and has had an integral role in the construction of most of the stages, took home third place just 3 seconds behind Brosnan. Ryan will be looking to take on up to 5 races of the Enduro World Series this year, so this early season form is looking good for the privateer.
Yeti Rider Richie Rude and CRCs Sam Hill rounded out the top five.
In the women’s field, it was Peta Mullens, fresh off a win as Australian National Road Race Champion, who dominated the girls winning every stage coming in 30 seconds ahead of Qld’s Brodie Chapman. Claire Whiteman rounded out the top 3, with a time just over 1 minute behind Mullens.
Post event presentations were well attended with over $15,000 worth of product being given away at random, including a Giant Reign, and $10,000 worth of SRAM product.
With over 200 riders entered from all over Australia, it was a great start to the new MTBA Enduro National Series. Round two will be staged in the home town of Jared Graves, Toowoomba on March 8.
Overall Split Times
Category Split Times
For full results click here
Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA) is thrilled to announce the inaugural Enduro National Series in 2015.
The Gravity Enduro discipline has seen significant growth in recent years, combining the thrills and excitement of downhill with the fitness elements of cross country racing. The series is comprised of a mix of landmark events in some of Australia’s best mountain bike destinations.
Beginning in early February, the first two rounds visit the hotly-contested RockShox Enduro Challenge events in Mt Buller and Toowoomba.
Round three sees riders head to South Australia, racing with the active Inside Line Mountain Bike Club.
In round four, the action will take place in the West Australian Gravity Enduro event on the challenging trails of the popular Goat Farm mountain bike park in Perth.
The series concludes in the ACT with Canberra Off-Road Cyclists Club at Stromlo Forest Park, the home of the 2009 UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships.
“The Enduro format has really taken off in recent years and I am proud that MTBA is now able to present a truly national series of established events for all riders,” said MTBA President Russell Baker. “In addition to being a great fun part of mountain biking, having our own Australian series will provide more opportunities for our riders to experience this level of competition at home and lead to the development of more world-class Australians.”
Australia boasts the reigning Enduro World Champion and World Series Champion, Jared Graves of Toowoomba in Queensland.
Graves, known as the “swiss army knife of mountain biking” due to his cross-discipline success, rode a truly amazing season on the way to the title. Racing in the opening round, the RockShox Enduro Challenge on Jan 31-Feb 1, will see reigning Champion Jared Graves race 2013 Champion Jerome Clementz (FRA), with downhill legends Troy Brosnan (SA) and Sam Hill (WA) adding even more superstar power to an amazing weekend.
Riders competing in the series will race for over $9000 in prize money, as well as the coveted title of National Series Champion and the Green and Gold jersey.
“We’ve had significant demand for the creation of National level events in this domain, and I’m pleased that MTBA has been able to respond to this demand,” said MTBA CEO Shane Coppin. “The Series is comprised of some of the discipline’s most iconic destinations and events and riders and fans alike can look forward to fantastic Enduro action”.
The inaugural Enduro National Championships will be held in Cairns, QLD based out of iconic Palm Cove in October as a standalone event separate to the series.
More information about the Series will be be available on the Enduro Nation Series website to be launched in mid-January.
Round 1 : Rockshox Enduro Challenge – January 31 & February 1 – Mt Buller, VIC
Round 2 : Rockshox Enduro Challenge – March 7 & 8 – Toowoomba, QLD
Round 3 : SA Inside Line Enduro – May 23 & 24 – Fox Creek, SA (online information coming soon)
Round 4 : WA Gravity Enduro – June 13 & 14 – Goat Farm MTB Park – Perth, WA (new website coming soon)
Round 5 : CORC Enduro – July 25 & 26 – Stromlo Forest Park (online information coming soon)
The 2015 International Enduro Season will kick off with a bang at the RockShox Enduro Challenge, Powered by SRAM when 2013 Enduro World Champion Jerome Clementz will take on 2014 champion Jared Graves and his Yeti team mate, Richie Rude on the slopes of Mt Buller in Victoria.
Clementz, who was forced to sit out the majority of the 2014 season due to a shoulder injury will use the Mt Buller event to wrap up his Southern Hemisphere training program, spending time in New Zealand and Australia ahead of round one of the Enduro World Series to be held in Rotorua in March. Graves and team mate Richie Rude will travel from Toowoomba the location of the second Rock Shox Enduro Challenge to take on Clementz in their first head to head hit out for 2015.
Looking to spoil the party for the Enduro Specific Athletes will be UCI World Cup regulars Sam Hill, Troy Brosnan and Mike Jones as they prepare their assault on the 2015 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.
Run under the same format and rules of the Enduro World Series, riders will take on six stages, taking in all elements of the Mt Buller trail network in Victoria’s High Country. Entries will be capped at 400 riders.
Event Management Solutions Australia are the leaders in Enduro racing in Australia, having been delivering top class events in the format for over 5 years. They also have extensive experience in delivering large scale events at a World Class level and in 2015 will be taking their support of Enduro a step further through the backing of an Australian Based Official EWS team.
For more information please visit www.gravityenduro.com.au or [email protected]
There are core experiences that define a mountain biker. Like venturing into unfamiliar mountains to find amazing trails chiseled into the landscape, and then pushing your limits, against all common sense for the pure thrill of it. These experiences are woven into the psyche of every mountain biker. Jared Graves is not an ordinary rider. The reigning Enduro World Series champion is considered one of the most versatile mountain bikers in the world and when not racing, he’s all about having good times on the bike. “It’s all about going out in the bush with your mates and riding natural terrain, whatever you can find really and just having fun.” Following his victory at the Whistler EWS, Jared traveled deep into the Kootenay region of British Columbia.
Proven Here. The Kootenays x SB6 Carbon.
They called it “Crankzilla”: the longest, toughest, hottest and some would say most technically demanding race of the Enduro World Series this season. 60 KM of riding, 2500 Meters of elevation gain and more than 7 hours of riding through five stages that would test amateurs and Pros both physically and technically.
After a sea on of close calls and almosts, Curtis is finally able to put it all together and have the right race on the right day.
Watch Curtis as he take one step further his overall season goal of making the top 10 during this 6th stop of the Enduro World Series.
Race Day 1
Race Day 2
The only thing left to say is that this truly has been one hell of a compelling season of racing…..
Event Management Solutions Australia, Australia’s leading event promoters of the hugely successful SEQ Gravity Enduro Series is taking their Enduro format on a road trip this February. Starting in Mt Buller on February 1 the ROCKSHOX ENDURO CHALLENGE POWERED BY SRAM will see riders tackling a challenging series of stages with a combination of self powered and assisted liaison stages
Taking on some of the best trails that the Mt Buller resort has to offer with a minimum of 5 different competitive stages, both the technical skill and physical endurance will be tested. With the addition of live music at the finish and a full day of practice on the Saturday, it will be a full weekend of Enduro riding.
Five weeks later will see riders head to Queensland to take on the best that Toowoomba has to offer on Sunday March 8. In the backyard of EWS king pin Jared Graves, participants will be able to race on the trails that Graves trains on. Venue of recent Qld Enduro Championships and the 2104 Oceania Championships, Jubilee Park will give those visiting from out of Qld a taste of some loose and fast racing
Supported by RockShox and Powered by SRAM with Giant Bicycles as exclusive bike partner there will be over $10 000 in cash and product prizes on offer for both the pinners and the punters with heaps of random draw prizes for all involved from SRAM and RockShox, plus a bike from Giant.
EMS Australia has been developing (Gravity) Enduro events since 2009, fine tuning the delivery methods, including scheduling and timing aspects of the day to ensure that riders and spectators alike are treated to an enjoyable day of Mountain Biking. Recent learnings from the Enduro World Series have enabled us to further enhance this experience.
Utilising a new touchless timing system, riders will be able to view, stage and overall times as soon as they have completed all stages.
Full details and website will be released in September.
For Sponsorship and media enquiries please do not hesitate to contact
Event Management Solutions Australia
07 3139 0397 or 0404 326 169
350 riders who came out to test their Enduro mettle at the SRAM Canadian Open Enduro presented by Specialized at Crankworx Whistler were met by, what many described as, the toughest course they’d ever done. At the end, two pro riders bested them all – Jared Graves (AUS) sat atop the Pro Men’s podium, solidifying his spot at the top of the Enduro World Series (EWS) point standings, while Cecile Ravanel (FRA) finished fastest in the Pro Women’s category, winning her first EWS race.
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).
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.
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 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.
“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.
Jared Graves (QLD) and Jenni King (VIC) have won the Cross Country Olympic races at the first round of the Subaru National Mountain Bike Season in Adelaide.
Riders faced a challenging course while completing laps of the Eagle Mountain Bike Park cross country course in Adelaide’s hills, and tough conditions in hot and windy weather.
In the Elite Men’s race, the simple version of the story is that Graves led from start to finish. Things were far more complex than that, however.
Graves, known for his ability to ride at an Elite level in almost any cycling discipline, has been World Champion in Mountain Biking’s Four Cross in 2009 and is regularly on the world podium in both the Down-Hill and Enduro disciplines.
Graves started strongly in todays race, with a close chasing group of Cameron Ivory (NSW), Brendan Johnston (ACT) and Michael Crosbie (VIC) at the end of the first lap.
During lap 2 Graves’ forks collapsed, and to the amazement of all he kept riding strongly. On the same lap, Crosbie made a passing move up to second place, and was made aware by spectators that the leading Graves was hampered due to his bike problems, and while he tried he couldn’t quite chase down the powering Graves.
Graves talked about his mechanical issue. “It caused my arms to be more tired than my legs, I could barely hold on”.
The race was his first National Cross-Country round win since being a junior 13 years ago. Graves was happy with the result, and other cross country riders may need to be on the lookout for some even stronger performances. “I’ve had 12 months of solid aerobic training, and I’m looking to build on this some more even”.
In the Elite Women’s race, Tori Thomas (VIC), Jenni King (VIC) and Peta Mullens (VIC) dominated the field throughout.
Thomas led the race for the first 5 laps, with Mullens sitting tight behind in second.
Thomas, who would ultimately finish second, said “I was pleased to be mixing it up at the front, I had a pretty good lead at one stage but then I had a problem on a descent, but I’m really happy with today’s result”.
Eventual winner King was happy to sit in 3rd place for much of the race. “I went out fairly hard and then settled into a rhythm. I actually thought that I went out too hard and that’s why I backed off a fair bit.
She made her move on the second-last lap and managed to hold off Thomas in a sprint finish. “I thought with 2 laps to go I’m going to give it everything and really worked the descents and the little punchy hills”.
For the DownHill event, Saturday is the timed seeding day, where riders compete for start times in Sunday’s finals.
Danielle Beecroft had the fastest time (2:34.06) for Elite Women in her first official race in the category after stepping up from juniors. “I was pretty happy, I just cruised down and had some fun and I’ll see how I go tomorrow”.
In the Elite Men’s seeding, local Connor Fearon led the field with the fastest overall time (2:02.87) of the day. “It was pretty slippery, I think the key was to keep your speed consistent and not try too hard”.
Both will lead racing in Sunday’s Downhill finals as the first round of the series to an action-packed close.
Yesterday’s racing saw the Cross Country Eliminator format. Reigning Oceania Champion Rowena Fry was the hot favourite in the Elite Women’s final, and she raced Sarah Holmes (SA), Emily Parkes (NSW) and young gun Sarah Tucknott (WA).
Just as in the Oceania Championships, Parkes started strong leading the field onto the first climb. Unfortunately Parkes lost traction on the inside line and crashed allowing the rest of the field to pass.
From this position Fry took the lead, never looking back to claim the Round 1 XCE win. Holmes claimed second place in a sprint finish behind Fry and Parkes managed to recover from her earlier crash claiming final podium position in third.
In the Elite Men’s Eliminator, Cameron Ryan (SA) led the field from the gun, and maintained a lead in a close race from the fastest seeded Ivory.
Both riders negotiated the technical elements well, and on the final corner, Ivory made a strong passing move and then maintained his efforts to out-sprint the local Ryan to take the win. Third place went to Connor Mackne (NSW).
Welcome to part 2 of our interview with Jared Graves. In part 1 we discussed his thoughts on the Enduro World Series, the merits of the various Enduro formats, and his performance at the downhill World Champs. In part 2, Jared talks about training and racing across so many disciplines, and answers the questions you submitted through Facebook.
In part 1 of out interview, you talked about your decision to race your SB66 at the World Champs a being based on the fact you where most comfortable on that bike. On that matter of getting comfortable on a bike, you’ve obviously jumped between a lot more bikes than most people, including a cross country bike. Where did your decision to race XCO at the National Champs come from?
I got a road bike again after not having been on a roadie for about 10 years. With the EWS coming up I knew I had the skills and the power, but I had to get as fit as I possibly could. So I started road riding in October, but by the time I got to the new year I was feeling strong on the road bike, and I got a cross country bike too. I did a few of the local races, just having fun and I won some of them quite comfortably ahead of guys who’d done quite well at Nationals previously. At that point I decided I’d give Nationals a go.
I managed about six weeks of specific training for it ahead of the event. Again, the only way I can really stay motivated to train 100% is if I have lots of mini goals along the way. And it was just another bit of motivation to keep the training up for the Enduro season.
I’m looking forward to doing it all again. I’ve spent the last three weeks on the road bike and I’m hoping to take things a step further in XCO this year. It’s hard with cross-country training – I don’t want to lose my top end power and become just a climbing machine. It’s always going to be hard when I’m carrying 10 or so kilos more than most of the other top cross-country guys. But it’s good fun and I’m looking forward to giving it a good nudge.
Just on that, tell us about the process of shedding weight to race XCO.
Yeah, it was hard. In BMX and 4X there’s a lot of emphasis on maintaining your maximum strength, and most of the guys are carrying a bit of excess body fat. There are very riders out there who can be at their maximum strength and stay super lean. The first bit of weight came off pretty easy, but the rest was hard, 200g per week or so. I pretty much spent six months of the year feeling a little bit hungry the whole time.
How many calories a day were you limiting yourself to?
I don’t know, to me calorie counting and that kind of stuff just does my head in. If you’re watching that kind of stuff every day it just wears you down – you’ll end up in an asylum if you monitor that stuff too closely. I would just eat when I was really hungry, and only eat to the point I was satisfied.
Straight after the Australian National XCO Champs race I went back up three kilos, I started eating properly again because the focus changed to getting that top-end power back for good solid five minute efforts. When you’re primarily going downhill in enduro, weight’s your friend to a degree, helping you keep momentum.
You could’ve smoked lots of cigarettes to supress your appetite.
Yeah, and that’ll shrink your lungs too, so that’d help save weight too!
Do you have general level of baseline training that you do regardless of what discipline you’re focused on at the time?
Yeah, definitely. I’m not the kind of person who can sit around. I had about five days completely off the bike when I got home from the World Champs and after the EWS too. And that’s about my limit – after five days without riding I feel like I’m a fat, lazy bum, and I need to get back onto the bike. It’s like a bipolar mood swing I have if I don’t get to ride!
As long as I can get in 8-10 hours on the bike a week, you know you’re keeping a decent level of fitness and it’d not too hard to get back up to a peak again from that level. That’s the minimum for to do to not feel like a sack of turd.
Do you do a lot of cross training?
Nah, I mean I do exercises in the gym, but nothing else really. In the gym it’s not really about upper body stuff, just some core stuff and working on some muscle imbalances. You know, when you’re always riding one foot forward, then one leg will have different strength. I always have trouble with my right leg being stiff from having one foot forward, and this causes muscle imbalances in my hips and back.
All my training has some good wiggle room in there for my sanity; if I don’t feel like doing one thing one day, I can mix it up. But when you’re doing road, gym stuff, cross country, downhill runs there’s always something you want to do, which is nice.
Do you have a coach?
No, it’s always something that I’ve had an interest in, and I’ve learnt a lot from sports scientists that we had access to over the years through the BMX program. Obviously there are some areas of specific knowledge when it comes to certain aspects of training, but for a lot of it it’s not really rocket science to work out what you need to do.
I’ve always on the computer looking for articles by different coaches, anything I can get my hands on. Now’s the time of year when I can experiment a bit more, a bit of trial and error to see what works for me. You get good at fishing out the stuff that sounds like absolute rubbish and the stuff that you feel will work for you.
We wanted to ask you about using power meters in your training. Is power training important to you?
Yeah, I can take my files from a racing and then apply that to training. But also I use it racing too, particularly in races where there are timed liaison stages. I could take my knowledge from using the power meter on the road bike and know what power output to sit on where I was able to recover but still maintain a decent speed. Whereas a lot of guys would ride flat-out to get to the top of the next stage so they could rest up when they got there, I was able to use the climb to the top of the next stage as an active recovery.
Now, the Cycling Australia awards have just happened a couple of weeks ago. Despite coming second in the EWS and third at the World Champs in downhill, you didn’t even get a nomination – what’s the story?
Yeah, I figure they didn’t include the Enduro stuff because it’s not a UCI series… I don’t know, I’ve won that award a couple of times before, and the last time I won it I totally didn’t expect to even be nominated. So when I did win it I was overseas training already. This year, I thought I was a shoe-in for a nomination, maybe even with a chance at winning it. And to not get a nomination was hard to understand. It’s just one of those things.
I just get the feeling there may be some people there making the decisions who aren’t really that into the sport. I mean, I’ve always been a really big mountain bike fan, I can list off the names of the top riders from all the different disciplines, I follow it all because I just love cycling. But I think there are some people behind those awards who couldn’t name five of the top Enduro riders or five of the top downhillers. That’s what frustrates me, they’re meant to be in charge of our sport in this country.
How old are you now?
I am thirty.
And where do you see yourself in ten years time?
Ha, who knows? Running around with the kiddies somewhere, just cruising. I don’t know – one thing I’ve learnt is that life has its own plans. You can map things out but you never really know; I’m lucky that things have always kind of fallen into place for me to some extent. Opportunities come up, and if they interest me I’ll take them as far as I can.
You’ve won titles in most disciplines. What do you rate as your greatest cycling achievement to date?
Jeez, there’s probably not one. I put a few of them on pretty level par. I think the things where I’ve really gone after it are what make me proudest. The Olympics is one of those things – I’d only been racing BMX for a couple of years, so to get to that level in a relatively short time made me pretty happy. And this year again, getting to the level I’ve got with Enduro makes me proud. I guess anything where I’ve really worked my butt of to get to a goal and then achieved it I rate equally, it’s about as satisfying as it gets.
Is there any goal you must tick off before you’ll be completely happy?
Ah, I don’t know about a ‘must’. I’m too competitive to not win races, so what’s most important for me is to keep progressing. If there’s ever a time that I feel I’m not going forward then that’s when I’ll be done with racing.
We’ve got a few questions that have come to us via Facebook, including someone asking if they can see you in the nude. Ok, number one: If you to pick one, which discipline would you race for the rest of your life?
Oh, it’s got to be Enduro. It’s the one I would’ve picked from the very start had it been an option all those years ago.
What’s one cycling item you couldn’t live without?
I’m pretty partial to a good set of riding duds. Whether it be lycra on the road bike, or some good baggies on the mountain bike – any really nicely made shorts. You know it when you’re wearing crap shorts.
What is your diet like – are you picky?
I’m not the perfect eater, but I am conscious of what I eat. You definitely won’t see me lining up at the Macca’s drive-through. We try to eat good veggies, fruit and meat, stay away from the crap. There’s always a few little things in the house, biscuits and things like that. My wife Jess is actually probably more of an influence on my diet than any constraints I’ve put on myself. That said, if you put a block of chocolate in front of me I can’t keep my hands off it.
A tech question from Facebook: I notice you run Saint calipers with XTR levers for Enduro, but at the downhill World Champs you had normal Saint brakes. Why?
Ha, that’s someone who has spent too much time looking at photos! Nah, I just prefer the feel of the XTR Race brakes – I use the Race levers, without the Servo Wave just because I prefer the smooth feel of the levers. At the Worlds, the only brakes I had in the team stock were Saint, so we just threw them on there. It wasn’t a performance thing.
Have you experimented with different wheel sizes much?
You know, it’s so funny reading all the comments online about this stuff. It seems there’s two different types of internet warriors: there’s the ‘wheel size is everything’ guys, then the ‘rider is everything’ side. It’s obviously the rider, but the wheel size is a factor. 27.5” works, and it’s obviously the future. I think Jerome Clementz said it well in an interview I read, when he pointed out that the big reason to still be on 26” still is that tyre manufacturers haven’t quite caught up yet and there’s not the same range of tyres out there yet in 27.5”.
Do you run tubeless on your enduro bike?
Oh, yeah, there’s no way you could run tubes. I run ghetto tubeless, using a 24” tube. With the ghetto tubeless setup, there’s pretty much no way you can burp your tyre, unless you hit something really, really hard. I run EXO sidewall tyres from Maxxis, and I didn’t have many flats all year, and none in my race runs.
Here’s something that speaks volumes about the ghetto tubeless setup; I had a pretty beat up wheel that I’d installed in practice for Whistler. We put a brand new tyre on with a 24” tube ghetto tubeless setup. When we pulled the tyre off a couple of days later after it was pretty beat up, I found ten pinches in the tube where the tube overlapped the rim bead. That would have been ten pinches in the actual tyre had I been using a standard tubeless setup. And dead set, the rim looked like a stop sign it was so beat up, but it was still sealed up fine and holding air.
Final question, what would you like to be remembered for: versatility, competitiveness or raw talent?
I guess the only way to answer that would be as a combination of all three really. They’re all really important to me, so that’s what I’ll go for.
Jared Graves has had an incredible year. Perhaps the most versatile and dedicated mountain biker of our time, in 2013 he claimed second overall in the inaugural Enduro World Series, bagged a spectacular third place at the World Champs in downhill and raced at the sharp end of XCO at the National Champs.
We caught up with Jared Graves, calling in from his hometown of Toowoomba. Incidentally our chat came just a couple of days before his local club played host to the Queensland State Enduro Championships (on the same day as his first wedding anniversary!). In part one of our interview, we chat with Jared about his successes in both the Enduro World Series and the World Champs, but we begin by asking him about the scene right there in Toowoomba.
How’s it all looking for the race this weekend?
Yeah, it should be good. We’ve got great trails for Enduro racing. There’s about 300 metres vertical to play with here, so for Australia that’s pretty solid. One stage is about six minutes if I have a good run, so that’s pretty decent.
Things really seem like they’re going very well for Enduro in Queensland.
Yep, we’ve got some good guys here, people like Ian Hardwood really pushing it. That’s what you really need, some people who just push it. It’s been really successful; I’ve got a few downhill bikes in the garage I’m trying to sell, but no one wants to buy them! Everyone just wants the enduro bike, something they can do anything on.
You’ve probably had a bit of an impact on that.
I don’t know, I feel like that’s the way the club has been going for a few years now. There used to be talk about getting another downhill track, but more and more trails general have been going in. We’ve got a really solid network now – it’s probably a good three-hour ride to take in everything we’ve got. There’s new stuff going in all the time. You’ll go out and suddenly see a new section of singletrack with a couple of diggers parked in the middle of it. It’s cool. We’ve got a good group of maybe 20 guys who love getting in there with a shovel.
Let’s have a chat about the Enduro World Series (EWS). What are your thoughts about the series in its inaugural year?
Going into it I had no idea what it’d be like. I had the idea that if you were a well-rounded rider, you’d go ok. I mean I’ve got a downhill background, and a cross-country background from when I was a young fella. And so I sort of trained with that in mind; I really just worked on everything to be as fit and strong as possible.
One thing I knew would work in my favour is that I’ve always ridden the smaller bikes better than the downhill bike. It’s almost like that as downhill bikes got better, as suspension technology improved, my results went down. I mean my focus changed too, but the smaller bikes suits my style a bit more, I tend to go faster on the small bikes. I think it’s just my technique – I’ve got a good position on the bike, using my body more than just the suspension. You see so many young guys now on World Cups who you can just tell have never had to ride the fully rigid cromo bikes with cantilever brakes. I started pre v-brakes.
You see these young guys now who absolutely rely on the bike, they just plough through a section. If you put them on hardtail they’d have no idea at all. The really good kids would be fine, because they ride all kinds of different bikes. But there are so many kids who just say ‘I want to be a downhiller’ and all they ride is their downhill bike.
When did you make the decision to make the EWS your focus?
Well, the start of 2012 I trained hard for downhill, but as soon as we got underway with the World Cups, I realised that deep down it wasn’t what I really wanted to be doing.
It was kind of a bit of a weird time. We did this one enduro in Spain, we thought we’d do it for a bit of fun, for a bit of variety in the training. It wasn’t the most competitive field, but I won it and I really enjoyed it. After that I thought I’d do Crankworx, because I was going to Whistler anyhow to train. So I did the Enduro there and won a stage, and I thought I had just been stuffing around, I only got there the day before and did a tiny bit of practice. So I thought, ‘shit, I could probably go pretty good at this’. And I just love the style of riding too, you get more time on your bike, it’s just how I wanted to ride.
So how did the actual series go from your perspective? Was it a good cohesive kind of series even with the variety of different formats?
Yeah, I think everyone really liked the varying formats! Some people got confused with it, but you really only needed to spend half an hour on the internet to work out exactly what was going on – there are a few different formats, the Italian format, the French format etc. But once you read about them, you knew what you were in for. Some riders did better at a certain format where you might get more practice, while other riders did better at the French format where you only get one practice run then have to go flat out into it. And again I think it showed the more rounded rider as you needed to be good regardless of the format. I hope they continue doing it like that.
Do you think we’ll see more specialist Enduro riders in 2014?
I think that’s how it’s going already. For the downhill guys though, enduro is really the perfect way to train. You get a lot of time on your bike, it’s physically hard, and you’re in that race frame of mind.
Still, it doesn’t necessarily translate; there are some guys who are fast on downhill bikes who aren’t nearly so quick in Enduro, and vice versa. I mean, there are a lot of downhill guys who were scratching their heads wondering why they weren’t going faster or placing higher in the Enduros.
I was thinking about it the other day; I don’t think you’ll ever be at your full potential in downhill without motocross, I don’t think you’ll ever be at the top of 4X without BMX and I don’t think you’ll ever be at the top of Enduro unless you race a bit of downhill. The cross-training goes hand in hand.
What makes a good Enduro rider fast?
When you look at downill and Enduro, the mentality is the same. But the trails and style are different. Enduro trails tend to be more raw, more natural. But downhill I feel is getting more like motocross. The tracks are very man made; the trails start off quite man made and groomed and then get more and more rutted out. To me it’s not really a pure form of mountain biking anymore.
Perhaps that’s why the speed doesn’t always translate. Minnaar for example, at the first round in Italy, he didn’t do that well. And everyone on the forums was saying, ‘oh he was just there having fun,’ but he was deadset scratching his head wondering why he was so far off the pace, losing 30 seconds in a five-minute stage. I can’t put a finger on what it is, but I had expected Minnaar to be up there too.
Then at the second round, Greg turned it around and got third overall, he got a stage win. It’s just a different form of racing and something doesn’t always click.
From a rider’s point of view, do you feel like the coverage missed anything?
Oh yeah, sometimes, for instance there might only be time for media to film the pedally bit at the bottom because there hasn’t been enough time for them to get tot the gnarly bit up the top. A bit like the World’s course in South Africa – on TV you’d think it was all just pedalling and the groomed jumps at the bottom, when there was actually some proper full-on downhill up the top. But then you’d rather have that coverage then no coverage at all.
Spectating must be hard.
Yeah sure, but at some races the spectators were wild. Like in Whistler or in Italy – in Italy there were masses of people out on course.
Can you quickly explain the different formats?
The Italian format generally sees you climbing to the top yourself. The stages are generally shorter because you can’t obviously have five stages in a day where you need to climb a thousand vertical metres each stage. You tended to have two days of practice before the race, which was normally enough to have a couple of runs down each of the stages.
The French format, because they have such big mountains, it’s good to take advantage of that vertical and have some really long stages, so they tended to have uplifts. Some of the races had a minimum of 800 metres vertical descent each stage, with up to 1500m – 15 minutes of pure downhill, very physical, high speed. Some people say ‘that’s not enduro’, but the enduro aspect comes from having very long, very physical descents. Some of the French races had two hours of racing per race.
In the French format you have one practice run per stage, right before the race. So you do a practice of stage 1, then your race run of stage 1, then a practice of stage 2, then your race of stage 2.
That sounds so awesome.
Yeah, I loved them. The courses flow really well and you can see far enough ahead that you can hit them very fast even on the first run. They’re careful to not put things in that will completely catch you off guard. I like to go pretty much flat out on my sighting run, so I can see how it all feels at speed and see what might catch you out. And that’s kind of a skill in itself, knowing how to make the most out of a practice run. You don’t have time to stress about it.
The two in America, at Crankworx and at the Winter Park race, they had a combination of formats. Actually at Winter Park we mainly used the chairlift because of the altitude. They actually ended up shortening some of the stages because people were passing out in their race runs; a lot of the stages started at over 11,000ft, the base of the mountain was even over 9,000ft. At that altitude you can go into oxygen debt in like 30 seconds. A well-paced race run at altitude should feel very slow at first. If you’re breathing hard in the first few minutes, you’ve blown it pretty much!
In Australia, there’s definitely a lot of discussion of what the most appropriate format is.
I think the Italian format is definitely the best in most instances in Australia. But still, that can be hard too because that’s a lot of pedalling for the some riders you’re trying to encourage into the sport. But overall I think riding to the top is the best option. Shuttles can be a pain in the butt to organise, they can add to the expense and things go wrong. I mean, some places like Thredbo or Buller obviously use the chairlift, but somewhere like Stromlo you should definitely be pedalling back up.
One thing I have seen from race reports in Australia is that some Enduros just become mini downhills on trail bikes. To me, that’s not what Enduro is, that’s just multiple stage downhill racing. Even here in Toowoomba, when I was riding with some of the guys and looking at trails to include in the Enduro State Champs, I pointed out one trail and said it’d be good, but they said ‘oh, but it’s got a little climb in it.’ But that’s just meant to be part of it – it brings the fitness side into it. I mean, the good thing is that Enduro can be whatever the race organiser wants it to be. The only thing I don’t like is when there’s just a one-minute downhill – that seems pointless to me.
Did you change your bike setup much during the season with the massive variety in formats?
I tried to keep it the same mostly. I guess the thing is, when you practice the track you get an idea of what the terrain is like you might make a few tiny changes – chain ring size, brake rotors perhaps. But the pressure in my fork and shock didn’t change one bit all year. You just don’t have time to change your setup to suit different stages, and every time you change your setup it takes a run or two to adapt and get comfortable.
I think that’s good too, especially for people getting into the sport, that you don’t need to make that many changes. At World Cup level in downhill, suspension can make such a huge difference, but in Enduro you can kind if take that aspect out of it and just go ride.
What’s your relationship with Jerome Clementz like?
He’s a really good guy! I mean, the Frenchies can have a reputation for being a bit happy to get into the grey areas when it comes to shortcuts on the course. But Jerome isn’t like that; he’s the perfect guy to have as the face of Enduro, he’s a nice guy who loves riding his bike. He’s everything that Enduro is all about in my mind.
Moving on to downhill. What was more important to you; getting third in downhill at the Worlds or second overall in Enduro?
Well in terms of my year goals, I was more focused on Enduro results for sure. But at Worlds I knew it was a track I could do well at and a medal was always my goal. And I didn’t realise until after the result what an effect my result would have; so many people just blew up about it, it got so much attention, it’s been really cool and a nice bonus at the end of the year.
I knew it’d take a really good run, and that’s what I got. I had to take it a bit steady up top on the little bike, but on the bottom half of the track the bike paid dividends. As far as a single result of the year goes, it’s the best.
Was there a point that you regretted riding the SB66?
Well, my downhill bike was there. But it came down to what I was comfortable on. At the Fort William World Cup at the start of the year I was just there having fun, but even still I didn’t really ever feel comfortable on the downhill bike, even after three days straight on it. For me it takes a couple of weeks on a bike before I feel like I know exactly what it’s doing, like it has become an extension of my body. And at Fort William I was coming into rough sections and not knowing fully how the bike was going to react. And that’s always going to slow you down.
I knew I’d need to be fully comfortable on the bike to get the result I wanted at World Champs. And when we walked the track after the juniors had been on it for two days, I was a bit unsure – you sort of forget how rough bits get after they get chopped up during practice. It felt a bit sketchy at the start of practice on the SB66, but then everyone was saying they couldn’t find grip out there, so I wasn’t the only one. But then by the day before race day I knew I’d made the right choice.
Come back soon for part two of our chat with Jared Graves where we talk about training, racing across multiple disciplines and Jared answers your questions.
Well, the 2013 season is in the history books. After last month’s World Championships, I spent almost six weeks back home getting into the swing of a normal life and routine. It was tough getting motivated for this weekend’s EWS in Finale Ligure because I knew that my 2nd place overall was secure and that I couldn’t gain enough points to take the overall lead. Really, I wanted nothing more that to finish off the year with a win.
Regardless, I got some good training done in preparation. I thought of it more as a lot of riding and throwing in some random periods of going as hard as I could. After all, you don’t want to keep burning yourself into the ground when you have nothing to gain or lose in the overall, and you should be letting the body recover prior to getting things into gear for 2014.
Sunday – Shaun Hughes (mechanic of all mechanics) and I packed up and departed Brisbane for one last 2013 adventure to Finale Ligure, Italy for the 7th and final round of the Enduro World Series.
Tuesday – Tired from travel and ready for bed, Shaun and I arrived at about 2am in Finale. We were met once again by Albert “the Albertross” Callis who had arranged our rooms to be ready for our late entry. With that, we were all set for some much needed rest before our big week.
Wednesday – We had time to check out the area and go for a spin to wake up the body. I felt surprisingly good and the body didn’t feel dead from travel…a good sign for the week. We met up with a few guys who had ridden here before and they showed us some good trails to ride. It was exactly what we needed and we rode for about 2.5 hours and snuck in two quick shuttles. Afterwards, we called it a day and went straight back to bed. Good first day.
Thursday – Today was the first official practice day. This is a bit of a change from the usual Italian format of less practice, and I was a bit worried about how it would play out. I knew that many people had ridden or raced here before and knew the courses well. But, as a competitor, you can’t think about that stuff; you just have to do what you can and hope it’s enough. In a way, I suppose I was thinking of it almost as preparation for 2014. I got in 10 runs for the day with a lot of time on Stage 4. I pinpointed Stage 4 as the stage where time could be made or lost; I could take some risks and “make my move” so to speak.
Friday – More practice. I was really enjoying myself, feeling fast, and looking forward to the weekend’s racing.
Saturday – Racing Day 1:
Stage 1 – We rolled out at 8:30am for this fairly short stage that contained a variety of technical, flow, and short sprints. I had only ridden Stage 1 later in the practice days while I was a little tired, and had thought it was more physical than it was. I paced myself to how I thought I should and I rode well technically, but I soon realized that I was barely breathing. When you are fresh and your body is amped up for racing, you can go pretty deep and I realized that I had saved far too much. It was another rookie move and a good learning experience for next year. I still found myself right up at the pointy end of the race, just a couple seconds off pace.
Stage 2 – A really good overall test for the riders, but far from what I would call “the peoples’ favorite” to race. It was so hard to find the flow. The stage contained a solid minute and a half technical climb followed by 3 minutes of brake-dragging DH trails. And that was about as diverse as it got. My run was just too conservative; I took the climb hard, but ended up slow in a few sections because I spent too much time focusing on my lines, setting up for corners, and not crashing. But, I was on pace at the pointy end again. Nico Lau seems to love the tight techy awkward stuff and put some good time into all of us on this stage. I was happy enough to still be at the top of the results sheet, but I knew I was capable of much better. I was a little disappointed.
Stage 3 – I was determined to not make the same mistakes and I wanted the win on this stage. It was a pure DH stage; steep and very technical with only one 10- second sprint out of the start. I knew that if I could lay down a win on this stage, my legs were good and I would be in a good spot for the remainder of the stages.
My run went exactly as planned with a perfect balance of opening up the throttle without any major risk. It’s exactly how I should always ride. I got my stage win and I jumped into the overall lead after this stage. Jerome Clementz was super consistent in the early stages and was only 0.1 seconds behind me. Nico Lau should have been in the lead, but was late at a time check after stage 2 and was penalized 1 minute. It’s really hard to see riders penalized like this, but I’m sure even Nico would agree that rules are rules.
Stage 4 – This is where the day got interesting. Stage 4 was the stage I had been looking forward to all week. It was time to do some damage. After stage 3, the organizers left us a very tight transition to Stage 4 and it took 40 minutes of solid tempo climbing to make it to the top. My heart rate was a fair bit higher than it had been on any other climb all week. A pace had to be held that would have been hard for amateurs to maintain without being penalized for missing their start times. Drama was brewing! Regardless, all the top guys made it up with about 5 minutes to spare before the Stage 4 start. Jerome was in the gate, goggles on, 10-second countdown started, when he was suddenly told, “NO, NO start, the stage has to be cancelled!” To go from race ready to stage cancelled in a 10 second time frame, CRAZY! It turned out that one of the later Stage 1 starters had been involved in a major crash and that there wouldn’t be enough day light left for everyone to complete Stage 4 once the course was race ready. So, it had to be cancelled. The welfare of the riders absolutely has to come first. But, as far as the race went for me, I couldn’t help but be very disappointed. Out of all the stages to cancel, they cancelled the one I had targeted. It seems there’s been a few similar incidents this year that have worked against me. Oh well. So, that was it for Saturday’s racing. I was in the lead overall, so I can’t complain.
Sunday – Racing Day 2:
Stage 5 – This stage was so much fun! Whoever built this trail needs to build more; they know what’s up! This was definitely the stage that people were most pumped on and every rider in the field could equally enjoy. It was just fast and flowy from top to bottom while still being physical. It was hugely enjoyable.
I had done three practice runs on Stage 5 and probably could have done more in order to get the most out of the trail. But, you can only do some much in practice.
My run was going really well until the last steep, rocky section. There were a ton of spectators and you can’t help but open it up a bit more in that atmosphere. I ended up overcooking a right hand kink, went head on into some bushes, head and shouldered a tree, and went full death grip in order to not crash! Somehow, I managed to stay upright. (Tip for the Day: It’s amazing what you can ride out of when you really try and don’t give up) But, I went from what should have extended my lead by about 3 seconds (so I’m told by people doing splits) to falling 1.2 seconds out of the lead before the final stage. No biggie in the grand scheme of things, but far from ideal.
Stage 6 – Stage 6 was a repeat of Stage 2, and Jerome and I were almost dead equal on time. With the overall race win on the line, I knew it was going to be a tough stage. If I wanted the overall, I couldn’t afford any mistakes. My stage went fairly well, but it was so easy to make mistakes given the technical and tight nature of the track. Unfortunately, I made a couple small mistakes and my stage wasn’t good enough. In the end, I finished 2.7 seconds down and in 2nd place overall behind Jerome.
I came to Italy looking for a no pressure race and a win, and I was a bit disappointed to not get the win. I made my share of mistakes, but I know Jerome did as well. It’s not like he had the perfect race, and he still deserved the win. Although, without Nico Lau’s 1-minute penalty on Saturday, he would’ve ended up fastest over the two days racing. So, despite what happened, I have to say well done to him, too!
It’s been a great season. In closing, I can say that being so close to the win here will give me endless motivation while preparing for 2014. I can’t wait!
As always, thanks to Shauny for keeping my bike 100%, and to Albert for helping wherever he could. Good support at this level is mandatory and I couldn’t have got where I am without the help of these guys, the whole Yeti team, and my sponsors. So, thank you to everyone.
Apart from all that, it’s well and truly into the silly season for finalizing plans and sponsors for next year. I can’t totally relax just yet, but at least I can take a bit of a physical rest!
‘til next year and thanks for reading!!
Frame – Yeti SB66c Medium
Fork – Fox 34 float 2014 160mm
Rear Suspension – Fox Float X
Seatpost – Thomson Elite dropper
Wheels – DT Swiss 240 hubs, 500 rims, and Aerolite spokes, alloy nipples
Tires – Maxxis Minion 2.5 EXO, ghetto/split tube tubeless. 27psi F, 30psi R
Brakes – Shimano XTR race lever, Saint calipers, 180mm Ice-Tech Rotors
Derailleur – Shimano XTR Shadow Plus
Cranks – Shimano XTR 170-millimeter with Stages Power Meter
Chainring – Shimano Saint 36-tooth
Casette – Shimano XTR 11-36
Pedals – Shimano XTR trail
Chainguide – E13 LG1
Bars and Stem – Renthal 740mm Fatbar lite, 20mm rise, and 50mm Duo stem
Headset – Chris King
Grips – ODI Ruffian MX