Summer may only just be beginning in the Northern hemisphere, but we’ve already hit the mid way point in the 2017 season. And what a season it’s been!
The weather gods haven’t been kind so far this season, resulting in a new nickname in the form of the Enduro Wet Series, but our riders aren’t afraid of a little rain and the dramatic weather has translated into some of the most exciting racing to date.
First up was the Giant Toa Enduro, part of the Crankworx Rotorua Festival In New Zealand. One spectacular downpour in the morning caused chaos out on the tracks, with the women’s field and the top 30 men bearing the brunt of the bad conditions. But it proved no match for Wyn Masters (GT Factory Racing) taking his first EWS win, with reigning World Champ Cecile Ravanel (Commencal Vallnord Enduro Team) once more leading out the women’s field.
Young French rider Adrien Dailly (Lapierre) blew everyone away at round two, the Shimano Enduro Tasmania. This new venue in the wilds of Tasmania also fell victim to the weather – and once more it shook up the top ten and saw some of the big name riders finish mid pack. And whilst Dailly’s first EWS win may have come as a shock to some, those that have been following his career won’t be surprised – the reigning Under 21 World Champion was posting times all last year that would have put him in contention amongst the senior field.
Tasmania also marked a turning in the women’s field, with Isabeau Courdurier (SUNN) proving Ravanel can be toppled. Courdurier was unable to finish in Rotorua due to illness, but she came out fighting and took the first EWS win of her career, picking up invaluable series points in the process.
It was another new venue for round three, the Enduro World Series Powered by Freeride Madeira and Sponsored by Absolute Black. This stunning island in the Atlantic was the first two day race of the year and offered up some incredible racing. In the women’s field it was back to business as usual with Ravanel taking the win and Courdurier in second, but Israeli privateer Noga Korem turned heads with her third place finish.
In the men’s field the lead changed almost constantly throughout the weekend with Thomas Lapeyrie (SUNN) and Jesse Melamed (Rocky Mountain Urge-bp) both out front at various points until mechanicals put paid to that. In the end it Was Greg Callaghan’s (Cube Action Team) consistency throughout the weekend that paid off and he won his first EWS outside of his native Ireland.
And it was back to Ireland for round four, the Coillte Emerald Enduro. Callaghan’s win in Ireland put him into the series lead, making him last man down the hill on race day. Having won here the last two years, the pressure on Greg in front of his home crowd was immense. Unfortunately for him it wasn’t to be this year, and Adrien Dailly once more outpaced the rest of the field, as did Cecile Ravanel.
So with four races left this year, the series rankings in the men’s field have literally never been tighter. Greg Callaghan managed to retains series lead with a 10th place finish in Ireland, but only by the slimmest of margins. Sam Hill (Chain Reaction Cycles Mavic) sits just 20 points back, and just 20 points behind him in third lies Adrien Dailly. Martin Maes (GT Factory Racing) and Richie Rude (Yeti Cycles Fox Shox) sit in fourth and fifth respectively and a strong second half of the season for either of these two would see them well within touching distance of the World Champion title.
In the Women’s field Cecile Ravanel looks comfortable at the top of the points table and will be hoping to take the her second World Champion title at the end of season. However, Isabeau proved in Tasmania that it is possible to toppled the mighty Ravanel, and there’s a whole host of fresh faces who are hoping to do just that. Ines Thoma (Canyon Factory Enduro Racing) has posted consistent top fives all season which has earned her second place in the rankings, and Katy Winton (Trek Factory Enduro Racing sits just 30 points back in third. Winton took her first stage win in Rotorua this year and backed it up with a second place finish in Ireland – this young Scottish rider’s new found confidence and speed definitely makes her a name to watch out for this year. Noga Korem, the Gehrig sisters (Ibis Cycles Enduro Race Team) and Isabeau Courdurier will all be hungry for points too – the women’s category this year could well be the most unpredictable we’ve ever seen it.
The Team competition is also tight – just 40 points separate the current leaders Its Cycles Enduro Race Team from second placed Canyon Factory Enduro Team. Rocky Mountain Urge bp sit in third and are a 175 points from the lead – but with four rounds still to go will any of them be able to stay there?
Karim Amour (BH-Miranda Racing Team) has dominated the Master’s field this year, winning all four races to date. Nigel Page (Chain Reaction Cycles Mavic) and reining Master’s World Champ Micheal Broderick have been right on his tail, but have had to settle for second an third place in the ramekins respectively. In the newly formed Master’s Women category it’s Mary Mconnelloug who is way out in front and we’d be surprised if anyone could topple her commanding lead of over 1000 points.
In the U21 Women it’s Martha Gill who leads the rankings, with two win under belt already this year. However, second placed Estelle Charles has beaten her at the last two rounds and it’ll be interesting to see how the battle shapes up between these two starts of the future as the season unfolds.
Killian Callaghan, none other than Greg’s cousin, is leading the U21 Men. Strong results all season, including a second place finish in Rotorua means he sits 90 points ahead of his closest rival Daniel Self.
So with four races left, who will be crowned the champions on the beach in Finale is still anyone’s guess. The remaining venues this season – France, the USA, Canada and Italy – all vary wildly in terms of terrain and race format, and so one things for sure, the best is yet to come…