Once again the Enduro World Series returns to the one venue that really needs no introduction, the mountain biking mecca of Whistler, British Columbia. A classic stop from year one of the EWS, Whistler has carved out a niche and a reputation as being one of the hardest and roughest races of the season. Year in and year out racers have been pushed to their breaking point here, and if it's not bodies breaking down it's the bikes that often limp across the line at the end of the day. And if all that could be packed into a one day format in previous years, just imagine what the organizers have come up with this year where racers for the first time will battle it out over two days.
The biggest change that comes with the extra day added to the 2019 schedule will be the classic Top of the Word stage being run first rather than last. What has almost always been the make or break final stage that often turns the race order on its head will now kick things off of Saturday afternoon. Expect some big time gaps and plenty of mechanicals that will now start the weekend with lots of drama rather than closing it out.
Sunday will see racers tackle 5 more stages in and out of the bike park, including two that will descend from well up in Whistler's Garbanzo zone. So don't go thinking that day 2 will be soft just because Top of the World is no longer in the mix. If anything, the day just got a bit harder as there is now more time for organizers to squeeze longer individual stages into the day than we have traditionally seen in the past. And by incorporating downhill classics like In Deep and No Joke you can be sure this will be one of the roughest EWS rounds of all time, and almost surely one of the longest in terms of actual race time.
After last round we can only hope for more epic battling between Richie Rude and Eddie Masters, and if Sam Hill can have a mechanical free round he should surely be in the mix as well. Current series leader Florian Nicolai is not the first rider you would think of when you think of smashing big rough and long alpine stages, but his skill level on a bike is second to none and this season he has shown very little weakness. In a nutshell, it really is anyone's to win this weekend. For the women, Isabeau Courdurier is in the driver's seat, but with locals like Andreane Lanthier-Nadeau and Miranda Miller both showing podium pace though this season the stage is hopefully set for a close battle.