1. Full time enduro racers made a steady start. 2. Trail bikes triumphed at Silver Star.
With the Trophy of Nations finishing about 10 months ago, the top flight enduro racers seemed like they were still working through the gears coming into their first race of the season. The Rocky Mountain Team was expected to dominate the podium at this race but with the best result coming from Andreane Lanthier Nadeau in fourth, it wasn't to be.
Instead, the men's race was won by a downhill racer in Finn Iles and the women's by a racer whose last EWS race was at the tail end of 2018 in Casey Brown. We suspect that the Rocky team was taking things a bit steady given that Zermatt is still scheduled to run at the end of August but it will be interesting to see if they try to regain some ground over the next two weekends of enduro racing.
3. Jump lines make for tough stages for enduro racers
We know how hard predictions can be, just take a look back at our efforts form the past few seasons trying to guess the top three of World Cup and EWS races
for proof of that. Unfortunately, one Pinkbiker stuck their neck out on our bike check article and said, "Thoughts and prayers for Finn's Stumpy." Well, the Specialized ripper proved him wrong and rode to a 14 second victory using a stiff downhiller's set up. The same story was true in the women's race where Casey Brown elected to ride the Trek Remedy over the Slash that's more commonly used by the team.
Of course, we've seen riders race on smaller trail bikes at EWS rounds too, including a Stumpjumper under Jared Graves
, but bike choice may be a factor to watch in future Crankworx Series enduros where the courses are about half the length and elevation of EWS races on bike park trails.
There was one stage that everyone was talking about in the finish area, stage 3. It was the longest of the race and took place on the Rock Star/Pro Star jump trails. We often see long Alpine goat paths or fresh cut backcountry trails in enduro races but this was a totally different beast packed with jumps and high speed berms. In fact, the EWS purposefully avoids jumps in its races so that competitors in the EWS 100 & EWS 80 races aren't too intimidated by the courses.
4. Strava times decimated at Silver Star
This made for uncharted territory for some of the enduro riders who are more used to endo-ing switchbacks than squashing tables and scrubbing doubles. Kasper Wooley described it
as "not my thing" while Jesse Melamed said he was flat landing too many of the jumps to go for the win. Instead, this was a stage that favoured the downhill and Crankworx riders with strong results for Iles, Verbeeck, Fitzergald and Van Steenbergen. With the remaining rounds of the Crankwrox Summer Series all set in bike parks, this kind of trail could shake things up some more as we head through the series.
If you're a Silver Star local and think you're fast, you may want to check your Strava again. The race on Tuesday saw the local times smashed as pros turned up and showed exactly why they are paid to ride bikes in the first place.
Miranda Miller had the best afternoon on the ride tracking app with 10 QOMs but there was another 4 for ALN, 3 KOMs for Jesse Melamed and 2 for Kasper Wooley. Bear in mind that the riders were hitting most of these stages with minimal practice and that neither of the winners were tracking their rides and you begin to realise just how impressive that is.