5 Things We Learned at EWS Tasmania 2019

Apr 1, 2019
by Ed Spratt  
Even a little rain on Saturday evening couldn t derail the Maes Train.

The second round of the 2019 Enduro World Series is over and Martin Maes and Isabeau Courdurier dominated the field once again. The six stages spread across the Tasmanian jungle were lined with spectators all weekend long offering riders plenty of encouragement to go as fast as possible. Take a look at five things we noticed from the sidelines.

1. Martin Maes and Isabeau Courdurier are Dominant

After taking the win at the previous round in Rotorua both Martin and Isabeau retained their vice-like grip on this season's racing finishing with commanding leads of 17.47 and 22.2 seconds respectively. Maes would win three of the six stages and never dropped outside of the top six on the other stages. His worst stage was stage five but he was still only 2.47 seconds back. Isabeau didn't drop outside of the top two and won three of the weekend's stages. Her consistent speed meant she never dropped more than three seconds back and won stage five by over 10 seconds. Both riders also won the Queen stage on Saturday giving them an extra 40 points in the overall. This means that both riders current have the highest possible points total thus far and carry leads of more than 200 points into the rest of the season.


Isabeau with the shoey


2. New Zealand look like the country to beat at the EWS Trophy of Nations

In September Finale Ligure will play host to the first EWS Trophy of Nations. This event will see each country assemble a team of riders with the winner being the team with the most points. After the first two rounds of this season, the Kiwis look to be a force to be reckoned with. Filling 30% of the men's top 15 in Rotorua and 33% of the men's top 15 in Tasmania they are looking super-strong early in the season.


6th this week for Keegan Wright to go with his 2nd last week in Rotorua.



3. Jill Kintner taking another MTB accolade

Jill Kintner already has a long list of mountain biking achievement but now she can add EWS silver medalist. In her first world enduro race, she kept an impressive pace that would see her take two stage wins and never drop out of the top six. Jill's race was the most successful debut by a woman since Casey Brown also picked up second place at Chile in 2016. She lost 22 seconds to Courdurier over the course of the race but will no doubt be chasing wins before the year is out.


Jill Kintner can now add an EWS podium to her long list of mountain bike racing achievements.



4. Sam Hill still not up to speed

After suffering through Rotorua with an illness things didn't get much better in Tasmania for the two-time series champion. Finishing the race in 9th Sam only managed to get inside the top 10 on three of the six stages, although one of them was the final stage that he won by 0.02 seconds. With a long six week break until the next round, he has plenty of time to prepare to fight back against Martin Maes' control of this season.


Into the crack and a top 10 for defending champ Sam Hill


5. Another win for the frankenwheeler

With Martin Maes taking another dominating win in Tasmania that is now back to back wins for the 29/27.5 combo. Does the mix of wheel sizes really offer that much of an advantage? It will be interesting to see if any other riders appear in Madeira (or even at the World Cup in Maribor) in six weeks time with their own mixed wheel set ups.




Previously:
Video: Full Highlights - EWS Tasmania 2019
Final Results: EWS Tasmania 2019
Course Preview: Ride The Tassy Tiger - EWS Tasmania 2019
Practice Photo Epic: (Tas)MANIA - EWS Tasmania 2019
Finals Photo Epic: Aussie Aussie Aussie - EWS Tasmania 2019
Video: Sam Hill POV - EWS Tasmania 2019
Video: Course Preview - EWS Tasmania 2019



MENTIONS: @EnduroWorldSeries / @davetrumpore / @mdelorme



116 Comments

  • + 336
 Martin Maes is winning because he is currently the best rider, not because he has 2 different wheels sizes.
  • + 60
 "It must be the technology!" - bike companies who will be selling 29/27.5 bikes next year.
  • + 5
 @Jvhowube: with 29 geo stabilizing a bit... I'm guessing dedicated frakenbikes will be the next new shiny thing to sell. It'll be like plus bikes with some flip chip adjuster to swap wheel sizes in the rear. It works in moto but there is a big throttle and getting hung up on the rear tire isn't as much of a thing. Who knows tho, Im interested to try it. Maybe it makes the 29er a little more nimble?
  • + 57
 next thing you know bike companies will be back on 26 in the rear... 69ers!
  • + 15
 But you could say that about every technical aspect of every bike out there - sure, it’s always the rider that makes the difference in the end. Still, he wouldn’t do it if he didn’t think it worked.
  • + 112
 Last week: "You guys didn't mention the frankenwheeler!"
This week: "Why'd you mention the frankenwheeler!?"

Honestly it's just interesting! I'm curious to see how this goes, or if Martin would be faster if he had a dedicated long travel 29er available to him.
  • + 14
 At that level, every competitive advantage can be the difference. The bike and bike setup can surely help. Fractions of seconds saved over several stages could be the difference between winning and being further back.
  • + 7
 @tacklingdummy: I agree. I was more responding to this line, "Does the mix of wheel sizes really offer that much of an advantage?". My answer would be, if there is an advantage, it's likely pretty minuscule and even rider specific. Who knows, his Nobby Nic rear, could have actually been the bigger advantage. I mean who else runs that tire in enuduro?
  • + 13
 @Svinyard: Alternative theory:

Maes really, really wants to ride dual 29" and doesn't actually prefer the mixed wheels, but the Force isn't available with a 29" rear, so this is as close as he can get.

(I don't necessarily believe this. I have no knowledge either way and the mixed wheel size set-up has merit for gravity events. Just stirring the pot!)

Wink
  • + 5
 @R-M-R: Oh good ole Occam's razor...
  • + 9
 @funkendrenchman: It certainly wouldn't be the first time a racer has bodged a workaround for less than ideal gear from a sponsor and pretended it was the set-up of choice!
  • + 8
 90% Rider - 10% Bike or thereabouts
  • + 9
 Martin also opted for the 650b version of GT's DH bike for the last world cup and Championship he did well at. Perhaps in the hands of someone with razor sharp precision, the 'smaller' size wheel is better.
  • + 10
 @funkendrenchman: I've had a few new bikes on which I immediately went and swept up all my old PRs. Not EVERY change is just media hype
  • + 3
 @mtnrush666: his interest in the 27.5 for DH and then going with the 29er up front is interesting. Can someone just get a deep interview with him on it and ask all the dumb questions? (or did this happen and I missed it)
  • + 3
 Yeah- I'd guess that the combination makes the bike feel just a tiny bit different, but that feeling really gels with his style of riding- so he's very comfortable on the bike-hence he's riding at the top of his game. A rider's "Feeling" of a bike has got to be way up there when it comes to success. Is it actually a mechanical advantage- I reckon no- prbly same playing field as being on a 29er. I've ridden 29/27.5 set ups and to me they felt the same as a 29/29 but I'm not Martin Maes.
  • + 7
 Time to come out with something in between. 28.25" perhaps. So you get the agility of 27.5 yet maintaining rolling speed.
  • - 9
flag adespotoskyli (Apr 1, 2019 at 13:15) (Below Threshold)
 @R-M-R: so basically is a 27.5 with a 29er up front?


Get this man a proper bike will you gt!!!
  • + 6
 @adespotoskyli: I think the bike that he wins on is his proper bike
  • + 16
 Sam Hill was so ashamed of the ugly CRC pajamas that he had to ride faster so nobody could see him in them. He's a bit more comfortable in this year's kit, so he's not in as big a hurry.
  • + 1
 Shhhhhh.... nobody has realized this yet... you're ruining the reason for sponsorships.
  • + 1
 @brianpark: dying over here.
  • + 2
 @adespotoskyli: Yes, he just put a 29er fork and wheel on a presumably stock 650b bike. We have no way to know what would be his perfect set-up. It's possible he would prefer dual 29", more travel up front, etc.

Or maybe this *is* his perfect set-up. Probably not, but it can't be a terrible set-up, given the results!
  • + 1
 @Jvhowube: Back when 29ers were new companies came out with "69ers" which were 29" front and 26" rear. When have you ever seen one on the trail?
  • + 3
 I really want to see someone rock a 26/27.5 beast
  • + 1
 @thebradjohns: your a wise person
  • - 3
 @R-M-R: this is correct. GT fuggled up big time making the force 27.5
  • + 1
 @Svinyard: it really does - I've been trying it on a hardtail it's so good
  • + 4
 GT: Oops! We made the front end too low on our enduro bike!

Maes: Hold my beer...
  • + 1
 Meh if it’s a fast open track pick 29 if is a tight technical track with lots of turns go 27.5. Horses for courses.
  • + 2
 @brappjuice: Precisely correct. If he thinks it's faster or provides an advantage, then it does, even if only a psychological one. Same thing with the perceived advantage of a full 29er setup.
  • + 1
 @tacklingdummy: I think you’re taking too much away from the rider. The advantage that Martin provides is the difference, not the bike.
  • + 2
 @seb-stott: haha! Every review of that bikes says the front is too low, so it makes sense Maes has bodged a work-around. I’d say it’s defo that more than a performance upgrade. Interesting he said he couldn’t discuss it when interviewed, probably as he can’t slate the original geo. Expect a new Sanction by season end....
  • + 1
 @GazeeMW: couldn't he just overfork the heck out of it rather than change wheel sizes if that was the case?
  • + 1
 @Svinyard: Yes, but no matter how much travel it has, the height at bottom-out remains the same for a given wheel size and fork model. The 29er will start higher and end higher.
  • + 4
 @Svinyard: Honestly... I doubt you'd get an honest interview or answers to the questions being raised here. I did see a video where he mentioned that they'd experimented with 29", 27.5" and the combo and he prefered the combo... However, I would wager that being loyal to your employer is more important than the truth...
  • + 110
 Connor Fearon podiums on flat pedals??
Connor Fearon is a bad mofo.
  • + 3
 Not skeeertt
  • + 3
 Sure he is !
  • + 27
 News flash , Sam Hill won the WHOLE EWS serie last year ... on flat pdeals
  • + 8
 Connor also happens to be the Aussie national enduro champion.
  • + 0
 @tuumbaq: thanks...I am well aware.
  • + 3
 I think people tend to believe hype and this conditions riders to arrive at a certain setup.

- clips might be faster than flats on sprints and through rock gardens, but what about wet weather or dry conditions when a foot off can equal a fast corner speed or ability to save a fall?
- a long reach is good for handling speed and straightlining through rock gardens, but what about the ability, especially on unfamiliar tracks (EWS), to choose lines instead of steamrolling?

I think riding is always a compromise and finding that balance will only make you a better rider. You can therefore focus on the riding part.

Someone, on Vital I think, said the reach and wheelbase of a bike is like a car having traction control. It is safer and steady- but to get really good, you need to switch the traction control off. Loads of riders seem to ride bikes their true size instead of upsizing. Don't believe the hype that longer, slacker, higher, faster, smoother and the rest is better.

Errr..sorry
  • + 3
 @dubod22: what determines true size? The what ever mumbo jumbo came from road bike fitting guide?
  • + 5
 I'm confused by the surprise that flats can go fast down hills. I assumed it was common knowledge that the main benefit to using clips down hills is making sure your feet don't move that much. Most of these people do not have a hard time keeping their feet on their pedals. What is the big deal.
  • + 3
 @dubod22: I've come to this realization as well. YUGE wheelbase bikes with sixty-nothing degree head angles are designed for safety, not winning. If you're an average rider, you're stoked to just survive rock gardens at speed, so any bike that gives you that superpower is better in your eyes. This is no different than all the Joeys running 45mm i.d. rims 4-5 years ago and raving about how "confident" they felt, when in reality their tires were totally closed down and couldn't be leaned over in a turn at all.

We're being sold a bunch of stealth interventions to make up for poor riding skills that detract from the things that actually result in fast riding: cornering and exit speed. But the avg rider doesn't care about those things. They care about plowing rocks, freeride flicks in berms, and riding manuals. So we're getting 420mm chainstays coupled with the front-end of a single crown DH bike, and it's a disaster for front wheel traction because the bikes are so imbalanced. Hey I know, let's slap some 800mm bars on there-- we'll just force everyone to fold over like a road bike so the damn thing isn't pushing in every corner!
  • + 45
 6. We still no clearer on EWS drugs policy and transgressions/abnormal readings of.

7. The prize money is a joke.
  • - 9
flag Jaybirdy (Apr 1, 2019 at 15:38) (Below Threshold)
 Ya I thought That Richie and others were in the clear?!?! but yet NO RICHIE.. such BS
  • + 8
 @Jaybirdy: Richie chose not to ride, the EWS didn't prohibit him from joining.
  • + 3
 @Jaybirdy: Yeah that was his call mate
  • + 11
 "2. New Zealand look like the country to beat at the EWS Trophy of Nations"

@edspratt - I bet you a beer that France's second team beat NZ (and everyone else) at the Trophy of Nations.

After 2 rounds, including their home race, the top 3 Kiwis are on 2240 points, but top 3 Frenchies are on 2260.
  • + 5
 Thank you, I came here to say this. Once we get out of Oceania the French will be clearly the best.
  • + 2
 I agree with France. But the 3 members start/race each stage together. Might not be as simple as the 3 fastest solo riders.

Could someone like Carlson go faster if Hill was setting the pace/line? Fearon as well.
  • + 1
 @BigAlfonz: They're surely going to keep 30 second intervals between riders? Imagine the carnage when the front man goes down on a fast rocky trail with 2 in his slip stream!

That format could definitely throw out some interesting results.
  • + 1
 @mark-88: Website says they race together and 90 seconds between teams. So I guess that could be 30 second intervals. Probably makes more sense.
  • + 1
 The French side is stacked with so much talent. NZ have a strong line-up and Australia too. Canada and GB rounding out 4th and 5th.
  • + 1
 @dubod22: It will be interesting for sure. The wildcard teams will be fun to see too: a team like Maes, Borges and Burns would be a podium contender but now sure I agree with having that if it's meant to be a battle between nations.

From what I understand, it'll be the top 3 from each nation in the EWS rankings that is selected, so no wildcard or form picks like in World Cup DH. This could mean people who skip EWS rounds to do DH could miss out. The NZ team especially could suffer from losing their big names. Is this a deliberate ploy by EWS to try and get riders to prioritise enduro over DH?
  • + 13
 I hope Cordurier is drinking champagne out of her own shoe.
  • + 7
 People hate to admit it but the bike absolutely matters. No it won't make a good rider suddenly great but in a sport this tight the bike is what will get you that one moment where you held a line through a corner better than the next guy or where you maintained speed over a rock garden better than the next guy and that can make all the difference. And with all due respect to the extremely skilled florian nicolai, the canyon Strive's switch to 29 wheels has probably played a role in his sudden bump this season. Also go back and look at ed masters results before getting his hands on the firebird 29. The bike does matter.
  • + 8
 I get what you are saying, but it could also be due to the higher tankers training or his competitors lack there of, or a million of other things. Comparing against uncontrollables doesn't work
  • + 4
 I totally agree here. Frankenwheeler this, frankenwheeler that... The real hero here is Horst-Link!
  • + 1
 Morgane Charre is the best example for this IMHO! Nothing against Bergamont – but ever since she's on Santa Cruz, she's absolutely smashing it. She wouldv'e podiumed again in Tasmania if she didn't crash
  • + 6
 Riders on 29ers: Martin Maes riding a 650b rear wheel is not a contributing factor to his consecutive wins/ dominance on the first two rounds.

Riders on Flat Pedals: Connor Fearon podiums because he's on Flats.
  • + 3
 10. Track walking has become contentious, and with tracks released the Sunday before has evolved from the roots of racing blind or limited practice to more studied and subject to sessioning and analysis before event. 11. Previous geospatial live tracking ability in feed is sorely missed.
  • + 5
 I really Hoped Katy could take the fight to the front of the ladies field , but the tight racing is exciting !
  • + 1
 Maes is on top right now, but lets see what happens in 6 weeks. Will he race DH in Maribor? What happens if he wins another DH? What if he gets injured...then who's the favorite in EWS? The top 10 times on any stage are relatively close in time, even Martin is only winning by 1-5 seconds on average. Other guys won a few stages this round so the gap to Martin is closing. Is Connor Ferran going to stay in EWS and not race DH full time? Long break coming up, anything could happen.....the only thing definite is nothing is definite when it comes to bike racing.
  • + 1
 12. Despite all the encouragement, participant numbers for the fairer sex in under 21 etc is troubling. 13. Tasmania has the economic - conservation conundrum correct compared with the rest of mainland Australia, allowing use of the conservation and forest estate, leveraging and actually investing and approving MTBing that has direct and immediate benefit to communities.
  • + 1
 Anyone of all of you with opinions about frankenbikes ever tried one? That being a 29/27,5 or a 27,5/26 combo?
(not the stupid 29/26 combo that was never going to work)

What if I told you that they really do work? Mind blown or still in denial? :-p
  • + 4
 Please stop calling it Tassy... (here's a tip.. it's Tassie for short)
  • + 3
 It's exciting what he's doing in Enduro (dominating) Im more excited to see him make people cry at world cup DH.
  • + 3
 Foes is ahead of the curve selling the mixer for a couple of years now.
  • + 6
 Yeah, but it's a Foes; so...
  • + 1
 Like Sven on the other site said- Jill needs to pony up and run the full circuit none of this picking and choosing. She wants the cred she needs to commit to the work.
  • + 4
 She is doing the work, I can testify to that personally. There are other projects that she has committed to for RedBull and other sponsors that would have to be worked out. It is the dark side of being a professional athlete, your time is not always your time and you plans are not always your plans...
  • + 3
 I got the impression from that interview she's not bothered about proving herself to Sven, or anyone else. She's obviously earning more doing Red Bull projects than she would in EWS. As much as we'd love to see her come in to make EWS more competitive, why would she drop all that to focus on a series she doesn't seem that interested in?
  • + 3
 Why Just 5?!?
  • + 49
 4 would be insufficient, but 6 too many.
  • + 10
 and seven eight nine so 5 is just right
  • + 6
 @kit-nz: but I thought 5 was right out?
  • + 2
 @kit-nz: lmao.. you a funny one!
  • + 2
 6. Martin. Maes. Nuff said, game over, freakin animal.
  • + 2
 Wish I could ride enduro every weekend
  • + 1
 The only reason he's on a Frankenwheeler is because a 29" rear wheel won't fit.
  • + 1
 Does GT make a nice enduro 29er tho?
  • + 1
 @Svinyard: No they don't make a long travel 29er yet
  • + 4
 @cycleco: GT Fury is a long travel 29er Wink
  • + 1
 @FarmerJohn: lol fair point!
  • + 1
 Down voted? Lol, I was literally quoting Martin's mechanic
  • + 8
 @matmattmatthew: I don't know what Mae's mechanic said, but Maes himself said on WynTV at Rotorua that he didn't like a full 29er, lost the fun/playfulness.
  • + 2
 @matmattmatthew: I gotchu with the upvote dude
  • + 1
 They really missed a chance to make that gt force as good looking as their downhill bike
  • + 0
 Yeah us Brits don't seem so good at this enduro malarkie, luckily we can still Rock it in DH tho!
  • + 19
 Yep, Brits need more proper mountains to train on, like in Maes's homeland.
  • + 1
 who are the top Brits in Enduro at the moment? Off the top of my head Bex Baraona, Joe Barnes?
  • + 1
 Triple post for some reason. Weirrrd.
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