5 Things We Learned at EWS Zermatt 2019

Sep 24, 2019
by Ed Spratt  
Keeping the mood casual on the way to the first stage of the day

The final round of the EWS in Zermatt provided san incredible end to one of the best seasons of mountain bike racing in recent memory. Here are five things we noticed from the sidelines:

1. We Are in a Golden Age of Racing

Has racing ever been better than this? Just a fortnight after the heart-stopping finish to the World Cup downhill season and a totally unpredictable World Cup XC season, the Enduro World Series provided its own nail-biting crescendo in the Swiss Alps.

The bikes, coverage and spread of racing are better than ever and the reward is a truly amazing period of racing. There’s no doubt we’ll look back on 2019 as one of the classic years in competitive mountain biking with plenty more of the same still to come in 2020.

Rae Morrison drifting around the final corner of the 2019 season

2. Isabeau Courdurier Was Able to Round Out a Stunning Season

Isabeau Courdurier may have wrapped up the 2019 series title in Northstar but that didn't stop her taking a commanding win in Zermatt on a new prototype Intense (Keep your eyes peeled for full bike check on that coming next weekend in Finale).

By taking the top step in Switzerland, Courdurier matched the perfect season of Cecile Ravanel achieved in 2018. Isabeau was only beaten on 16 of the 49 stages all season, meaning she had a win rate of nearly 70% in a truly dominant season. 2020 is going to be exciting to watch with both Courdurier and Ravanel battling out.

Isabeau Courdurier on roots and en route to winning stage 2

3. The Title Race Nearly Ended in a Tie

Sam Hill’s winning margin of 40 points may seem slim but the title race very nearly ended in a dead heat. Had Sam Hill not picked up the bonus points from the Queen stage, he and Nicolai would have been tied on 3190 points. So who would have won? Well, it would still have been Hill as his result in the final race was better.

In the end, Hill would have had to have lost 8 seconds on the final stage to Richie Rude to lose the overall title but instead he beat him by 17 in a Hollywood ending to the season. Hill becomes only the second enduro racer to win three titles in a row after Tracey Moseley’s domination of the early years of the sport.

Florian Nicolai and Kevin Miquel help Sam Hill get the party started as the fastest three men in there EWS

4. Richie Rude Took the Most Stage Wins of the Season

Since his return from suspension at round four in Val di Fassa Richie Rude has dominated the remaining EWS races winning three of the last five rounds. He also won 13 of the 30 stages he raced on which is nearly half of all the stages he competed on and more than anyone else managed in a full season. 2019 had plenty of drama both on and off the track but we are definitely set for some great competition next year with the likes of Rude, Maes, Nicolai and Hill all in a straight battle for the title.

Richie Rude started the day slowly but would turn it on over the final two stages to take second on the day. He also ends the season with the most stage wins of any riders despite missing the first three rounds.

5. France Will be Favourites at the Trophy of Nations

“The French are good at mountain biking” is hardly front-page news at the moment but while the start of this season was dominated by Aussies and Kiwis, the French were able to reassert themselves by the end of the year in the discipline they invented.

Florian Nicolai may have been beaten in the race for the overall but he leads out a French 2-3-4-5 in the World Cup overall with Miquel, Tordo and Dailly. With only 3 spots available for Trophy of Nations teams, one of these top 5 riders won’t even get a place on the French first team. Courdurier will lead out France’s women’s team and with Charre and Pugin likely to be joining her, they will also be trio to beat.
Kevin Miquel took fourth for the round and third in the overall.

Regions in Article


  • 132 29
 Dont hate on me for saying this but If rude and maes had raced the full season. it would of been a completely different turn out.
  • 81 32
 Thank goodness for doping!
  • 35 2
 looking that way but anything could have happened. So you don’t know.
  • 53 0
 "That's racing".
  • 23 1
 I don't think there's anything particularly controversial about that. It would have been nice for everyone to be fit and healthy from the start too but as it turned out, Hill did just as much as necessary.
  • 55 3
 Sam also started the season sick and had a mechanical in one of the races which ended in a time penalty.
If he didn’t have that bad luck he could’ve won by a larger margin leaving less doubt
  • 38 9
 If they had stayed clean then that might have
  • 52 0
 Don't forget Eddie!
  • 15 2
 IF only Sam Hill would take some drugs xxx
  • 31 4
 ....."if I hadn't crashed I would have won" (2009)
....."if I hadn't doped I would have won" (2019)
  • 13 28
flag monkeybizz (Sep 24, 2019 at 6:55) (Below Threshold)
 Yeah Maes and Rude are definitely doping, it would come up eventually
  • 24 0
 Also still possible rude and maes could have gone done with injury or the planet could have been obliterated by an asteroid... doesn’t matter what could have been
  • 11 14
 Ahhhh so many downvotes on my comment about Maes and Rude being dopers, you MTB's are so naive to road racing - who can dope the best! Doping is just like trickle-down technology, it will get in here eventually :') (has started already!)
  • 1 0
 @BMXrad: Sure he does, just not illegal ones?
  • 8 3
 @CM999: Marin Maes did not take any illegal drugs?
  • 4 0
 @H3RESQ: 2008* For Sam's WC Champs crash.

It's mind blowing that there are multiple races where Sam was so f*cking far ahead of the rest of the pack when he crashed. I miss watching him race WC just because he was always redlining and pushing the absolute limit.
  • 3 0
 @Jamesgoulding: Being sick is certainly bad luck, mechanical rarely is. Sometimes yes, but rarely.
  • 8 0
 @chacou: Eddie would have had an effect on the overall EWS outcome for sure. What a season for Eddie. Never Forget Eddie! Northstar is a cruel mistress.
  • 7 0
 @endlessblockades: LOL. Yes, Eddie had a great season and was kicking butt. Kiwi!!
  • 4 2
 @endlessblockades @mybaben yeah, Sam Hill might be the GOAT, but Eddie Masters is and will always be The Spirit of Enduro youtu.be/yNWxNh7ur3Q Big Grin
  • 2 0
 @H3RESQ: I did dope to win but I'd had won if I didn't XDD
  • 3 0
 @wellbastardfast Yep, so 2020 is looking good!
  • 2 0
 @endlessblockades: If I was his team manager I would have had Eddie on a phoenix at Grarstar,but I am not?
  • 5 2
 @monkeybizz: people downvote your comment because you are blatantly talking out of your ass, bud
  • 4 0
 Don't forget the fact OTON was injured all the season, too.
  • 1 0
 Why would we hate you? It’s obvious it would have been different, with two of the strongest riders out the season couldn’t be the same! The same as Maes and Rude, wouldn’t have been as dominant had they raced the whole season.
Still, the las two years it was Hill who won, with Rude and racing Wink
  • 1 0
 @pargolf8: I'll give you an upvote just cause it's the most patriotic thing to do #MURICA
  • 33 1
 I get the sentiment but there really is no way of knowing what would have happened. Rude or Maes might have won, but then again, they may have ended up with serious injuries etc No point in conjecture - it's as it is and Sam Hill has done it again! Isabeau is awesome as well. They all are!! Looking forward to next year sooooooooo much.
  • 11 2
 Totally agree! Noone knows what could have been - and Hill took the win "Clean", you gotta play by the rules.

On a side note for discussion:
will Sam Hill retire and remain as the legend of the 3x EWS champion or try to battle it out against Maes and Rude next year?
  • 3 0
 @Germanmike: Hill had an unlucky start to the season with illness. I would imagine he'd want to come back full tilt next season for an epic three way battle.
  • 31 2
 I'm not sure 2019 was a classic year of EWS. Mens winner took no individual wins and the Womens winner was uncontested in every round! Mitigating factors in both of course. Probably get a million down votes for this but I alter my schedule to watch the live DH feeds, but have yet to watch the highlights package for this race. Enduro is very fashionable and I think a total winner as a participation sport - but as a visual spectacle, compared to what we are getting from DH now, well it's just night and day.
  • 5 0
 @jemscott: I don't think the lack of being a visual spectacle makes it any less of a competition. Seeing the domination by only the top three competitors makes me think that enduro is truest form of competition in mountain biking. It has the largest number of participants, but so few have been able to put together the winning strategy.
  • 3 1
 Plus Sams been racing twice as long as Rude and somehow never juiced up!?!?
  • 1 0
 @jemscott: I agree the coverage is not there yet, and I stress yet. Every year it gets better and World Cup racing has been around a lot longer. Me personally I could see like RedBull come in with their coverage experience and equipment, but I also fear they would make negative changes to the sport for the sake of viewers (like me) so I hope that what's been happening each year with the EWS crew getting better and better with more content will just keep ramping up.
  • 5 0
 @chriskneeland: that’s what I’m looking forward too. Sam Hill is a beast. Stoked for another flat pedal championship. But mars doesn’t get caught up in that bs suspension he wins it this season. Rude is an animal. Flo was amazing. Not sure whap happened down the stretch. Eddie. Jesse. Etc.

Women’s side should be good next year too.

Dh is the mist competitive it’s been in awhile.

Even Xc is entertaining.

Slope styles has 4 or 5 dudes swinging for the top spot now.

Ds is back.

  • 3 1
 @jemscott: Don't you think that's more a statement about the coverage than the sport? EWS is still super rad, the podcast/tv/vid coverage is crap. The live Redbull DH coverage is way better than EWS.
  • 2 0
 @jemscott: I think you’re right about it not being a classic season. The last race was excellent with both SH and FN riding at the limit. Next season will be very interesting with Ravanel back in the women’s, Hill fit and all the others gunning for the win. There’s a definite need for a technological solution to the filming to make it more DH and less boring. Not sure how they’d do that given the constraints?
  • 2 0
 @Germanmike: he has another year in his contract, so he's back for 1 more crack at it at least
  • 3 0
 @jemscott: I have to say the highlight videos are actually incredibly well done. Epic drone shots, great scenery etc. I enjoy watching those videos as much as the DH races. the race Eddie Masters won was particularly gripping in the highlight video; they did a good job of playing out the story.
  • 2 0
 @xTwoSnakesx: Agreed. I think most of us are in agreement on that. I think the issue is the amount of coverage, both in quantity and track sections, is poor! And there is no live racing.
  • 1 0
 @mybaben: I’d agree too. I’ve been wondering how you’d solve this? Let’s say there are six stages each with 4 key sections where key riders could be at any one time, that’s 24 camera/ drone operators, and no internet!
I wondered if a gps map showing people where people are and times on stages might work?
  • 1 0
 @nrpuk: The way you can "watch" live timing of DH WC qualifying would be interesting, but only for the real nerds.
  • 1 0
 @xTwoSnakesx: maybe getting a global telecommunications company to sponsor satellite trucks might work? www.dacast.com/blog/streaming-live-remote
  • 23 0
 Jesse Melamed is a beast for battling through so many injuries and still being fast as fu** (ok, we already knew he's a beast). I like to think that we learned that Sean Neer is another Yeti charger to watch, Colorado represent! ...and Sam Hill, the toughest mofo in EWS, nerves of steel, blood like ice, "fast and focused" I think he said.
  • 5 0
 I think we really saw how calculated Sam Hill can be. Remember how wild he was in his World Cup DH days? By comparison, he's almost sedate in enduro races, but it's for a purpose: he's consistent. And then, when it really counted on that last stage, he can still light it up. What a masterpiece of strategy and composure he is.

And so is Isabeau Courdurier. Her bike check (www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdZwwDZh8Gw) was interesting: tiny woman, yet full DH casing tires, heavy and reliable components, fully stocked backpack, and a keen awareness of her limits: despite her dominance, she's actually been playing it safe, making her results all the more impressive.

The return of Maes, Rude, and Ravanel is likely to force the 2019 champions out of their comfort zones and make for exciting racing!
  • 21 0
 Since no one has found it here yet (I think so, correct me if I'm wrong) Hill has won the title WITHOUT winning a race… Food for thought, consistency is better than raw speed…
  • 14 6
 Better test the food first, it might contain banned substances.......
  • 4 3
 consistency means = he took LESS risk than the others. Races you only win if you take a lot of risk and go all in (or at least you need to risk more). thats excactly the skill of a experienced rider.

For comparison: in DH it was excactly the same - it seems Amaury takes more risks then Loic (and crashes from time to time BUT wins also races), while the experienced Loic just takes as much risk as he needs (and is more consistent, but less spectacular).

Does this make sense?
  • 23 0
 Kevin Miquel also got 3rd in the overall without ever getting a podium
  • 9 0
 you've definitely got to play it safe if your going for the overall. Also you’ve got rude and maes that couldn't win the overall so they’re going all out to get race wins to compensate taking risks that they might not have done if there was an overall at risk.
  • 33 0
 With just himself and Nicolai left to race, on the final (Queen) stage of the final race of the season, with the overall on the line, Sam Hill won the stage and the overall.

If that's not risking it all by putting your giant nuts on the table proclaiming "I'm Sam f**king Hill!", I don't know what is.

There's consistency and being clutch under pressure, then there's what Hill just did. Wild.
  • 2 0
 @jamessmurthwaite: Right!? It was like "oh that guy got third?" we were all so focused on the big fight he just slid right in there lol
  • 1 2
 @freeskifreak: Agreed, that's why Troy Brosnan doesn't win. He races fast and conservative for great consistency, but no wins...
  • 2 1
 @mybaben: rrriiight, which is why he, like Hill, won the overall. Oh wait
  • 2 0
 @thenotoriousmic: Maes was also flat out and winning in Rotorua and Tasmania before being banned.
  • 3 0
 @jamessmurthwaite: ....and he was a ROADIE 2 years ago!
  • 1 0
 @endlessblockades: He did mostly XC Eliminator
  • 1 0
 @etga6657: I was just going by what I thought he said on GinTV - I might have heard it wrong.
  • 1 0
 @MTBrent: this.

Sam turned it up and performed at the moment it mattered most, under the greatest pressure.

That’s what makes a champion.
  • 1 0
 @freeskifreak: 'risk adjusted returns'. a well considered strategy for investing also!
  • 9 0
 I love these "what we learned" articles! The photo epics are great, but coming back a few days later and articulating some deeper analysis really adds something. I also think the wording and tone regarding Rude's ban ("return from suspension") is just right--neutral, not sensationalist, but also not overprotective of Rude. Often sports and sports media are too tightly connected, with sports media being too deferential and secretive when an athlete has f*cked up.
  • 9 2
 somehow i feel sorry for nicolai he is such a magician on a bike and the list of sams victorys is almost endless, would have been nice to see himt ake it.
  • 2 0
 I feel the same, however i feel Nicolai lost the title in the previous races. I don't know whether he was nursing the lead or just had a few bad races? I will like to know the strategy Canyon was using. Tracy Hannan was nursing the lead in the over all and it almost cost her the title, glad it worked for her.
  • 8 0
 Maybe this is not the best place to say it but here goes: Pinkbike Hot lap with Hill and Bruni NEEDS to happen!
  • 1 0
 Yes, what he said!
  • 5 0
 "4. Richie Rude Took the Most Stage Wins of the Season"
>> 5. Martin Maes won 50% of the stages he competed on ??
Sadly they compete face to face 2 times only this season... so difficult to estimate.
  • 3 0
 Golden Age of racing: Yes. Great coverage of EWS races live: No. Can we fix that? It's such a shame to see each stage whittled down to some 10m section of track. I would LOVE to see more coverage on EWS, it is so much closer to the stuff I ride or would want to ride.
  • 2 0
 Sounds like an opportunity for you to get busy, like really busy! Someone a while back even suggested giving Cathro a backpack so he can film it. It would be impossible to put together any sort of coherent live package, there us just too much going on over too great an area. And pretty much all at once. I think we just need to be grateful Chris Ball and co got this shit up and running. If an EWS event happens near you, go and watch it. You can even video a few riders zipping past you for a few seconds if you're handy with your phone.
  • 2 0
 It will never be as good as the DH or XC because of the delay in converage videos etc. It's a bit of a damp squib in relation. All the different venues are amazing for riders but not so good for the fans, as coverage is minimum in comparison, for obvious reasons.
  • 7 3
 Seriously. No mention of the icing screwing maes? It’s clear he was the best rider this year.
  • 1 0
 Did anyone see the new Intense Courdurier was riding with lower shock mount like Santa Cruz and Specialized? Has that been out for long because this is the first time I have seen it.
  • 2 0
 It's a proto, she just got it before race practice. It's also a mixed wheel!! Or as the nerds call it, a mullet bike. Wink
  • 3 1
 and theres is the BUT... hill won the overall and no one will think about how he did it after a year or two
  • 3 0
 All we really learned is that EWS Zermatt 2019 is really rocky?
  • 1 0
 2 things:
Whats a fortnight?
Is that Kim Sonier foot out in that first pic?
  • 5 0
 #1: two weeks time;
#2: She's Rae Morrison.
  • 2 0
 Smash it all in 20’ Richie, you are a freakin beast!
  • 1 0
 Does anyone think podium should get more points??
  • 1 0
 What was the riders total times for the entire season?
  • 2 4
 N6 : you can get screwed by obscure UCI ruling even if your therapic usage has been validated, and no one will try to question UCI or EWS about it.
  • 1 0
 Vive la France !!!
  • 1 4
 #6. Those trails high up on the mountain were boring! Nasty, rocky exposure with nothing interesting happening. meh.
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