The Enduro World Series should be in Chile this weekend for the second round of the 2020 season, but for obvious reasons we can’t be there.
Race settings don't come much more dramatic than Chile, the setting for round one in 2018
We’re going to have to wait until November to get back between the tapes on Chile’s infamous anti-grip - but while we wait, it seemed the perfect time to look back on our last outing there in 2018.
Chile kicked off the 2018 season in style, as riders descended on Lo Barnechea, high in the Andes foothills above Santiago. The first race of the year is always intense - as riders anxiously wait to see if all that off-season training has paid off as they take to a start line for the first time in six months.
Eddie Masters discovering why they call it anti-grip
And racing doesn’t get much more intense than what went down at the Lo Barnechea Montenbaik Enduro. It was a rude awakening to the 2018 season as the loose, dusty trails waged a war of attrition on body, mind and morale. Reaching altitudes of 3500m, the loose, dusty trails caught out even the most calculated of riders, with one of the highest mechanical failure rates the series had ever seen.
Sam Hill on his way to winning the race in Chile
However, there was one man who defied the odds and kept everything together to put together two perfect days of racing. The inimitable Sam Hill (Chain Reaction Cycles) remained unfazed by the conditions, never finishing outside the top two to win the race in convincing style. In stark contrast Richie Rude (Yeti/Fox Shox Factory Racing) won two stages on day one, but a puncture on stage two cost him dear, relegating him to 53rd place.
Martin Maes took the stage four win and was rewarded with second place in the race
Martin Maes (GT Factory Racing) played the long game, riding fast enough to win stage four, but conservatively enough to finish the race with bike intact and was rewarded with a well deserved second place. Ibis Cycles Enduro Race Team's Robin Wallner also rode smart and earned a career best third place, as did Gusti Wildhaber (Cube Action Team) for his highest ever finish in fourth.
Cecile Ravanel dominated the women's competition winning every stage but one
In the women’s race, reigning Champion Cecile Ravanel (Commencal Vallnord Enduro Racing Team) was as untouchable as ever. Despite a puncture on stage four, she still stamped her authority all over the rest of the field with a winning margin of 47 seconds. Isabeau Courdurier (Lapierre Zipp Collective) lived up to her reputation for consistency - finishing all six stages within the top three and capitalising on Cecile’s puncture to win stage four. Katy Winton (Trek Factory Racing) shook off a mechanical on day one to round out the podium in third place.
Back in the good old days when Corona was just a post race refreshment
A special mention should also go to Bex Baraona who scored her best ever result with fourth on her debut outing for Ibis Cycles Enduro Race Team. Anita Gehrig (Norco Twins Racing) was forced to withdraw from the race for the first time in her EWS career after she sustained a hand injury, but sister Caro still flew the team flag with a fifth place finish.
All the winners in 2018; Melissa Newell, Sam Hill, Karim Amour, Cecile Ravanel, Ella Conolly and Duncan Nason
Duncan Nason (Yeti/Fox Shox Factory Racing) topped the U21 Men podium, whilst Great Britain's Ella Conolly took her second EWS win in the U21 Women. In the Masters category Karim Amour (Miranda Racing Team) once more topped the podium, whilst it was New Zealand's Melissa Newell who won in the women's race.
GT Factory Racing and Cube Action Team tied for team of the day
In the team competition GT Factory Racing tied with Cube Action Team for first place, with Ibis Cycles Enduro Race in second.
The race in Lo Barnechea is remembered for all the right reasons - the dramatic, racing, incredible trails and the always amazing Chilean fans. We can’t wait to return on the weekend of November 14-15, when Chile will host the final round of the season.