With a unique new format and five incredible stages in Finale Ligure, the first-ever EWS Trophy of Nations was a spectacle to end the 2019 season. Here are five things we noticed from the sidelines:
Going into the weekend, it seemed like an easy one to predict. The riders who were ranked highest in the EWS standings would probably end up winning the whole thing, right? For that reason, France looked to be firm favourites in the men's competition with the 2nd, 3rd and 5th ranked riders.
But it wasn't to be. USA stormed to victory with the 7th, 15th and 27th ranked riders, followed by Sweden with the 10th, 13th and 90th ranked riders. France, for comparison, ended up down in 11th. Clearly some teams were able to rise above the sum of their parts to produce race-winning performances.
The industry race was always going to cause trouble - should it be for salaried staff or can pro and ex-pro racers join the ranks to beef up each brand's potential? It seems like even by race day this hadn't been decided with some teams going for staff and some stacking the roster with racers. In the end, it was no surprise that Julbo's winning team of Fabien Barel, Jerome Clementz, and Francois Bailly-Maitre took the title by almost two minutes. Their overall time would have even placed them in the top eight for the Nations trophy.
Next year we would like to see some stricter regulations otherwise they may just race in the Saturday team competition with everyone else. We believe that a job title at the company you represent is the minimum requirement to make this a true industry race.
After a great season of racing with a 4th place overall for Remi Gauvin, 12th overall for Jesse Melamed despite missing a round, 3rd place overall for Andreane Lanthier Nadeau, and an 8th place overall for Miranda Miller, the Canadian team came into the Trophy of Nations with some strong credentials. Come race day, they put on a great show and took third place in the Men's, Women's and U21 Men's. With such strong talent across their teams, they are sure to be a force to be reckoned with in future EWS season and at the next Trophy of Nations. Team GB also performed well this weekend with a 2nd place in the Women's, a 1st place in the U21 Women's and a 9th place for the Men.
Looking at the men's results, it is no surprise to see both Richie Rude and Martin Maes being the only riders to win stages, with Maes taking three wins over Richie's two. In the women's field, it was Anita Gehrig and Andreane Lanthier Nadeau who would take the wins, with ALN mirroring Maes' victories on stages 2, 4 and 5. The four stage winners also shared another similarity, they led their respective teams throughout the day whereas some teams opted for an approach that saw the leader of the team change through the day.
Teams could set off over the course of a minute so there was no danger of catching riders in front but it seems that there was still an advantage to being first probably from less visibility and a clearer course. If anyone wants the bragging rights of a stage win next year, they'll have to step up to the plate and lead their team to get it.
Isabeau Courdurier has been used to fairly comfortable wins all year but she wasn't the fastest woman on the hill in Finale. That honor goes to Andreane Lanthier Nadeau who finished the weekend with a total time of 36:47.23, 4 seconds faster than Courdurier over the 5 stages. In a normal EWS race, this would have been the first-ever EWS win for ALN and Courdurier's first defeat of the year. There are some mitigating factors of course, such as the team element and the fact Isabeau was battling an illness, but it will be a huge boost for the Canadian as she heads into the off season.