Course Preview: Blown Out - EWS Rotorua 2019

Mar 22, 2019
by Dave Trumpore  



While the Enduro World Series may be kicking off its season in Rotorua for the third time, it really may as well be a different venue for 2019. Why you may ask? The answer is simple and can be explained in one simple word. Dust.

Having raced in the wet the past two visits with where conditions ranged from downright slippery with zero traction to boggy and energy sapping slow, it's quite shocking to see dust hanging thick in the forest air. And while there is an ever so slight chance of a rain shower or two in the forecast it's nothing that should do anything to ruin the current state of flow. Really the biggest issue will be visibility as the combination of patchy forest light and dust makes it nearly impossible to see where you are going if even remotely close to a rider in front. This should be no issue on race day as riders run in a proper seeding order but during the open practice, it could turn into quite the junk show. With only one run per lap in training, it is going to be imperative to be able to see where you are going. Additionally, there will be four stages that will be raced as part of the EWS for the first time, two of which have never even been ridden at all.

So who would we put our money on?

For the women, it has to be Isabeau Courdurier in the absence of the currently injured Cecile Ravanel. But the rest of the podium could be anyone's guess, especially when you look at the variety of names who finished there last season. Katy Winton, Noga Korem, Andreane Lanthier Nadeau, Caro or Anita Gehrig, Ines Thoma, etc. It really is anyones guess and the same could really be said for the men's field as well. Sure, Sam Hill will come to the front of most peoples minds, especially with things as dry, loose, and blown out as they are now in Rotorua. But he will surely be pushed by the likes of Martin Maes. Then there is the return of Adrien Dailly who could steal the show if he has recovered from injury enough to have the same form of previous years. Or last season's standout privateer Youn Deniaud now with the support of Giant's factory effort. The list really is almost endless when you add in Robin Wallner, Kevin Miquel, Florian Nicolai, Jesse Melamed and on and on down the line. Maybe we'll even see a Kiwi on top as we did with Wyn Masters in 2017.

We will be bringing you all the (hopefully) dry and dusty action from Rotorua this weekend so be sure to check back in to see how things unfold as the 2019 Enduro World series gets underway.

New Zealand you sure do have some epic views.
New Zealand, you sure do have some epic views.

The forest of looking a little pale and a lot less vibrant than seeing in previous years. No rain and high temperatures have parched much of the vegetation here.
The forest is looking a little pale and a lot less vibrant than seen in previous years. No rain or high temperatures have parched much of the vegetation here.

Even if it does rain a little bit it s not getting trough this canopy unless it comes down in buckets.
Even if it does rain a little bit, it's not getting through this canopy unless it comes down in buckets.

The woods are dark the roots are big and the tracks are mint. Round one will be a real treat.
The woods are dark, the roots are big, and the tracks are mint. Round one will be a real treat.

Chris Ball finding the flow on stage four.
Chris Ball finding the flow on stage four.

Crankworx Rotorua EWS 1
The roots from 2015 are still as plentiful as ever, only this year they may just be dry.

Remi Gauvin upped the pace at the end of 2016 and is looking to get inside the top 10 this weekend.
The first training runs of 2019 will be looking far different than they did here in 2017.

Blown up is the only way to describe Stage 1.
Blown up is the only way to describe Stage one.

Dave s hand meets rock. Rock wins. Out of the way on stage one.
Dave's hand meets rock. Rock wins. Out of the way on stage one.

Randy has a new hair cut. It s full send. Send it Randy. Send it.
Randy has a new hair cut. It's full send. Send it Randy. Send it.

The 50 to 01 boys taking in all that s good in Rotorua including a few refreshments.
The 50 to 01 boys taking in all that's good in Rotorua, including a few refreshments.

It wouldn t be a media recce without some tricks. Chris Seager shows some style before we drop in.
It wouldn't be a media recce without some tricks. Chris Seager shows some style before we drop in.

Tracks are walked before the practice starts.
Tracks are walked before the practice starts.

Stage 5 will start up high near the Crankworx DH track while Stage 1 will begin on the knoll just past the bridge at the center the photo.
Stage 5 will start up high near the Crankworx DH track, while Stage one will begin on the knoll just past the bridge in the center of the photo.

Salva Moreno knows sideways in the dry is more fun than sideways in the wet.
Salva Moreno knows sideways in the dry is more fun than sideways in the wet.

Jubal Davis monster trucking over some slick roots to avoid the off camber exit of the corner.
It's pretty safe to say that no matter how thick the dust gets it will be better than Rotorua's previous mud fest.

The only thing that will be warm or dry on Sunday are the brakes.
Let's hope that the brakes won't be the only thing warm or dry on Sunday.

Stage 5 will be a fast one up top.
Stage five will be a fast one up top.

Dropping through the forest on stage 4.
Dropping through the forest on stage four.


Cam the Kiwi pitching it in on stage four.
Cam the Kiwi pitching it in on stage four.

Ines Thoma pushed through a lot of adversity today to take a career best 2nd.
The slick and boggy mud has always sucked riders energy and ruined the flow of Rotorua's amazing trails. 2019 should hopefully see some truly blazing speeds through the forest for a change.

Cam Mackenzie dusting off one of the berms on stage 5.
Cam Mackenzie dusting off one of the berms on stage five.

The trails here take fun to the next level when they are this dry and have this much flow.
The trails here take fun to the next level when they are this dry and have this much flow.

We are dusty today but it could be a different story come the weekend.
We are dusty today, but it could be a different story come the weekend.

Bike cleaning any way you can in the remote woods.
Pray for dust...So we don't have to go through this once again.


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31 Comments

  • 20 0
 Bring on Sam. Dust, no problem. Dude is looking savagely fit right now too.
  • 10 0
 It's Randy!!!!!!!
  • 5 0
 Pretty sure I am traumatized by that haircut picture
  • 2 2
 So who all is walking the course and who isn’t? By asking this I may pour some oil in the fire... I just remember that there was a debate over EWS course walks and already heard some people are refusing to walk the course...
  • 6 0
 All the pros generally walk all stages, while amateurs likely won't or will walk only a few depending how serious they are. Speaking from experience racing EWS last year. Never heard about the refusing to walk the course, the only thing they changed was from multiple practice runs on each stage to only 1. Hence now people walk.
  • 2 0
 @malamadre: alright, thank you!
  • 4 5
 You sound like a really interesting guy, do you just sit around on your couch and watch football and mountain bike highlights all day? There are other ways to gauge the interest and success of a sport than TV coverage. How about the increasing number of participants that pay money to enter the events, how about the increasing number of events themselves, how about the increasing number of fans that purchase tickets to attend the event, how about the increasing number of fans who hike through the mountains to watch for free, how about the increasing sales numbers of enduro bikes. You live in the UK, which is basically ground zero for mountain biking integration into the culture...if you cant see it then get off your couch.
  • 1 0
 Sorry this was meant as a reply down lower to the guy who got downvoted a bunch
  • 2 0
 Now I know how Alex Jones feels and surely nobody enjoys peddling?
  • 1 0
 Light rain last night, should clear by mid morning. Not enough to affect the trails and will hopefully keep the dust down.
  • 2 0
 Go Ben!
  • 1 1
 Why is the girl holding a leaf in the track walk pic??? Is it to create a blind spot for spotting hard to see lines??
  • 1 0
 I think that's Katy Winton and the Trek team
  • 1 0
 Looks like a recipe for a creaky bike.
  • 1 0
 Salva for the win !!!!
  • 1 0
 Don't jinx it!
  • 1 0
 Squeaky dust.
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