The French Have Never Been More Dominant in the EWS
The French invented the enduro discipline so it's no surprise they've always been pretty good at it. At this race in Pietra Ligure though, they showed that they've never been more dominant as they finished with seven men in the top 10 and a complete lockout of the women's top five.
The French's most dominant period came around 2015 when they also finished with seven men in top 10 at the final round of 2014 in Finale, three times in 2015 (Samoens, Ainsa and Finale) and finally at the first round of 2016 in Chile. The French have never had 5 women in the top five though. The closest they have come was in Val D'Isere in 2013 when four women entered the top five spots but this is the most dominant performance we've ever seen from any nation.
Of course, we're not looking at a full field this year, with some riders not opting to make the trip over from their home countries for Europe and others afflicted with the virus but the French still came out miles ahead of a field still packed with top racers.Isabeau Courdurier is Tough as Nails
A Mix of Burly and Burlier Forks made up the top places
Yes, Isabeau Courdurier may have lost her winning streak that dates back to the start of 2019 but she didn't let it go without a fight. Courdurier raced with two torn ligaments some bone contusions and a large joint effusion in her ankle. She was heavily strapped up and no doubt in a lot of pain.
Despite all this, she was able to win the first two stages and after a gruelling day, she still was only beaten by Melanie Pugin and even then only by 14 seconds. It looks like the event took its toll though and Isabeau has announced she will not be competing in Finale Ligure.
No Riders Doubled Up This Weekend
Fork choice was a mixed bag in the top spots of both the men's and women's fields with a split between of the burly enduro forks we've seen raced over the past few seasons and the even burlier forks we saw released at the start of this year.
In the men's field, there were three riders in the to 10 on Zebs and three on Lyriks, including the winner Dailly. All the Fox riders in the men's field were on 38s but Estelle Charles, who finished fourth in the women's field, was on a 36. Compare this to Zermatt and only Ella Connolly and Louis Jeandel opted for the less burly fork options in the top 10 men and five women. Pietra Ligure had around 500m less vertical as part of stages and its 50km had to be pedalled in its entirety, while the Zermatt course had chairlift access. It seems riders may have found some advantages in opting for a slightly lighter set up to help them through the monster day.
In Zermatt we noticed that riders were able to ride the EWS-E on the Friday and then also race the EWS on Sunday to some success with Jose Broges bagging himself a top 5 in both events. That wasn't the case in Pietra Ligure where no riders opted to take on the fearsome challenge of 2 brutal days of racing.
Motorised or not, the 60km's worth of riding and 2500 metres of elevation on the EWS-E made for a truly gruelling day out and the chances of following it with the 50km with 2,000m of climbing on the EWS race day while still expecting a good result must surely have been near to zero. Interestingly, the winner of the EWS-E last week, Melanie Pugin, opted to focus on acoustic bikes and it definitely paid off as she claimed her first-ever EWS win.