The first round of the 2019 Enduro World Series is over and it was a good one. The five stages played host to some intense racing with some interesting results appearing by the end of the day. Take a look at five things we noticed from the sidelines.
Isabeau Courdurier may have won all but one of the stages in the women's race but there was a horde of fast racers charging her down. In fact, less than one minute split the top 8 after half an hour of racing. One more stage could have changed the standings entirely, with newcomers to the podium, Morgane Charre in second +11.05 back and Bex Baraona in third less than half a second behind her. That's 11.21 seconds separating the entire women's podium.
Just like in previous years, the Rotorua forests bring out the best of the New Zealand riders with 30% of the top 15, Keegan Wright, Cole Lucas, Wyn and Ed Masters and Sam Blenkinsop, all from the home country. We'll see how much was home soil advantage at the next rounds.
3. In 5 years, Bex Baraona has finished 4th through 12th, but never the podium until Rotorua
Bex Baraona did her first Enduro World Series race in 2014 in Glentress, Scotland. In 2016, she did the entire series for the first time and now she has raced over two dozen EWS races. With her third place in Rotorua, she's now finished 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12th throughout the years.
In 2016, Sam Hill didn't finish outside the top 6, but last season, he finished in 11th and 9th and the last two stops. While 13th was definitely not the way the defending champion would have liked to start his season, if he can recover from illness in time for the race in Derby next weekend, he's still very much in touch. Keep in mind that Damien Oton, who finished second overall last year, is out for 2 rounds with an injury and Martin Maes hasn't proven consistent enough to contend for the overall, missing EWS Colombia with a shoulder injury last year and getting a hand injury in Finale.
It just so happened that both Maes and Courdurier won both stage 4 and the race. This was the first ever Queen Stage and it was the second longest of the day. They both earned themselves a bonus 40 points in the overall. That means both Maes and Courdurier now have a lead of 90 points over the rest of the field going into the rest of the season, with the winners of both the men and women's races now receiving 500 points.