5 Things We Learned From EWS Zermatt

Aug 31, 2020
by James Smurthwaite  
Ella Conolly on her way to third place in a break out ride.

It was a baptism of fire For the EWS and organizers

It was never going to be easy, was it? Pulling together a race in the middle of a pandemic on the cusp of Autumn in a high-altitude Alpine village is no mean feat and the EWS rose admirably to the challenge of putting on a race this year.

Zermatt wasn't rescheduled this year so the weather would have hit regardless but there was no way of knowing that the COVID pandemic was coming when the race was first scheduled. Yes, there was a COVID scare after three people had to be quarantined and tested that left an air of unease in the pits for an afternoon but it's worth noting that the potential contact happened outside of the EWS bubble and the EWS dealt with the issue in an efficient way. With social distancing, bubbles and masks, the race could go ahead in relative normality and bring the fans the racing we've been waiting for all year.
Miranda Miller ready to get cracking.

Some riders could have used the EWS-E for extra training time

The first-ever EWS-E race took place on Friday with 34 riders pitting themselves and their motors against the rocky Zermatt trails. The EWS-E followed its own course, with an uphill power stage testing riders' tech climbing ability alongside the usual gravity-fed offerings we'd expect from an enduro race. However, there were some similarities between the regular EWS-E and EWS, as the Rock 'N' Roll and Lake Link (which was later cancelled in the EWS) trails featured in both routes.
EWS E-MTB Test Event

This allowed some racers, such as Jose Borges and Melanie Pugin to get some extra time in on the trails before they entered the EWS race. It's a double-edged sword though as racing twice in a weekend leaves little room for recovery and fatigue can start to creep in. Jose Borges said his hands were hurting all day on Sunday but he battled through the pain to fifth place. Of course, any rider that doubled up was working well within the rules (it's just smart!), but it will be interesting if some riders turn to the EWS-E series in future for some extra trail time.

This was the shortest ever EWS Race

With a winning men's time of 15 minutes dead and a women's time of 17:21, this was the shortest EWS race ever held. The previous shortest was Colombia in 2018, which also had stages cancelled due to weather, although that time it was mud not snow that caused the cut. Such a short race meant that mistakes were more costly than ever and any mechanical led to a rider dropping way out of contention. Some victims of this were Melanie Pugin and Noga Korem who both looked fast and posted top five stage times but had no opportunity to make up any time after suffering mechanicals on the other stages.
Jesse Melamed had one hell of a day and took the win.

Brits and French are dominating the women's series

In Zermatt, only two riders were able to break the Anglo-French domination of the top ten in the women's race with Anita Gehrig in fourth and Miranda Miller in tenth. The French dominating women's enduro is nothing new and we have to go back to 2015 to find a year when the overall wasn't won by either Isabeau Courdurier or Cecile Ravanel but a wave of British riders is going to be challenging them for the top spots this year.

Of course, Isabeau Courdurier is still continuing her perfect streak and took two stage wins and the race but Morgane Charre was not far behind with her new Pivot Factory ride and Ella Connolly made a great return from injury for third. Britain vs France would have made for a great Trophy of Nations but we'll have to settle for watching the riders battle it out as individuals for the rest of the season.
Morgane Charr took third for the pro women.

Prepare for a season of Wet Cups and Enduro Wet Series

Welcome to the new normal. Any international racing we get this year is going to be fraught with anti-COVID measures and, probably, rain. The race calendar is just starting where it would normally finish with mountain towns beginning to gear up for the winter season. Should every race that's currently planned go ahead happen, we'll be verging on November by the time the racing finishes.

As Zermatt, the French Cup in Metabief and even Stage 1 of the Tour de France proved this weekend, wet weather skills will be crucial for riders this year and riders from damper climates will be licking their chops for some strong results.
Joe Barnes should be right at home in the slippery conditions. He should make some good shapes tomorrow .

Regions in Article


  • 41 0
 I love that this race even happened, but there will always be the asterisk beside the 2020 season.
  • 2 0
 Yeah, but I'm sure the racers are amped to be between the tape either way. I am amped for them too. Regardless of results in a shortened season it's always good entertainment.
  • 49 12
 They're not for me, but I have no problem with eBikes; I might even like them. I bought my wife one. BUT, eBike racing is the dumbest thing in MTB.
  • 28 2
 To be honest, that hillclimb looked pretty fun...
  • 13 5
 Soon you'll have to buy one to keep up with her.
  • 9 3
 @z-man: I gotta disagree on that one. Theres nothing that will replace the good ol' mechanical advantage of a traditional bike. However, I think E-bikes and pedal assist have their own place in the MTB world. I used to have the same mentality "E-bikes are dumb, don't be a pussy just pedal", but my mind started to change after watching Gwin's reasoning behind them, and my mind started to open. Some people don't have time for a regular ride and they just want to get out and enjoy two wheels. I can't shame necessity for being the father of invention yet again, we have something that caters to almost everyone in the MTB world. just as it should be. I'm hoping they keep restrictions in place on certain trails to keep the extra wear and tear from e bikes down, but besides that I have zero issues with E-bikes creating more opportunity for people to join this awesome sport.

Edit: didnt see you say you had no problem with E-bikes. my bad. thought you were trashing them.
  • 4 1
 @z-man: She can CRUSH me on the climbs. It's good to have a rabbit sometimes and awesome to have my wife riding with me.
  • 2 0

Haha, all good man. It's just what i've noticed happen a lot. Husband buys wife e-bike so she can keep up. Wife gets super good super fast and starts lapping the husband. Husband buys e-bike.
  • 48 22
 Enduro is probably the most contradictory race format for an e-bike possible. Isn't the whole point of Enduro the endurance part? And isn't the whole point of the electric motor the extra power output? So you compromise the endurance aspect of the race by allowing racers uphill assistance, then you race it like a gravity bike down a hill. What a joke.
  • 24 3
 E-bikes have a battery that can be used to power a light that can illuminate these dark times?
  • 22 19
 eMopeds are a contradiction in terms to start with. Send the whole Trojan horse pony show off to the moto world if MXers will have them. Anywhere well out of sight where real MTBers don't have to repress their gag reflex.
  • 25 10
 Enduro is the best racing format for e bikes, both from a racer and fan perspective. It's like having multiple World Cup DH runs in the same day with the bike providing the shuttle, combined with a crazy uphill stage for the fans to watch. Surprised more guys aren't trying it.
  • 27 13
 @DoubleCrownAddict: Only not quite World cup caliber tracks. And not downhill bikes. And no endurance. So nothing like that at all.
  • 6 4
 Enduro is probably the perfect format for ebikes. The climbs are not timed and it seems to be all about going deep into an area and getting rowdy on multiple high quality downhills - all of them in a day or weekend. The eFactor would focus even more on delivering downhill endurance - could even squeeze more DH stages in an event. It is probably inevitable - more racers could participate and I'm sure the industry wouldn't mind more ebike sales - if it doesn't undermine the current AM bike market. Enduro has kind made up their own rules on what it is exactly (endurance downhill, party in the woods, just like a regular weekend with your riding buddies, showcase local artisanal trail experiences, no profit it's just for the trails, another tribal experience ™), so why not? It could happen.
  • 2 0
 @chriskneeland: It will likely evolve into that, no reason e bikes shouldn't have double crown forks if they have motors. But they also need on the fly adjustable head tube angles for the climbing stage.
  • 13 9
 as long as your head is up your own ass, you will actually never get it, and especially if your that special that you dont get or understand how training works, nor e-bikes. Just hit the button so you dont see this shit dude, everyone is more tired of seeing your shitty uneducated comments, even more than you seeing ebike drivel! You are the joke! Smile
  • 6 6
 Most enduro races end up with most, if not all, stages having a huge amount of lift assist. Why I don't have an interest in enduro racing, no endurance required.

Last enduro race I entered, I pedaled the whole damn thing (30 miles, 4000') just to prove the point. End up mid pack in the Expert class.
  • 13 4
 Bruh. Have you ever even used an eBike? You go faster, you don't necessarily work less.
  • 4 0
 Especially when your allowed 3 batteries just to complete the day
  • 9 2
 I know, I see guys like Graham Jarvis, Johnny Walker, Taddy Blazusiak and I think what pathetic athletes, competing with a motor. They must be in horrible shape. Probably get out of breath going to the kitchen for a snack.
  • 12 5
 @norona: So I'm supposed to understand why they're racing bikes with motors down a hill, in a sport based on endurance in which they're now provided a motor to lessen the demand on endurance? Dumbest shit I've ever heard.
  • 4 0
 @CFJonny: You absolutely do work less with an E-bike (given the same terrain). You COULD expend the same energy that you would without an e-bike, but if you did match the energy output of a regular non-ebike rider, you would cover a greater distance by comparison.

Bottom line is the battery is doing some of the work for you that is required to accomplish any given task.
  • 6 0
 @CM999: From my point of view the whole E-Enduro Thing ony makes sense when they also have to take care of the battery life and not be able to change it during the race. Furthermore the Capacity as well as the max power should be limited, so that every rider has the "same" advantage and not that the one with the best motor wins. Just my two cents.
  • 1 0
 @JSTootell: enduros don't need to be particularly long because it's expected that the racer gives 110% effort on all the stages, which takes a lot of energy.
  • 1 1
 @CFJonny: Yes, you do work less. That's the point. The battery stores energy for you to later be turned into work. The power generating station does some of the work for you. That's how motorized vehicles work.

Otherwise "Have you ever driven an electric car? You just go faster, you don't work less."
  • 1 0
 @rory: read what I wrote again, then realize we are in agreement
  • 1 2
 @JSTootell: ...if you had some sort of Flintstones electric car? Anyways, if you are all butthurt about eBikes, I can't help you. It's like back in the nineties when people were up in arms about suspension "turning bikes into motorcycles".

Go ride an eBike. You can absolutely slay yourself on the climbs. They take less time, so you can cover more ground. Yes, you get assist, but you seem to be of the opinion that it is a throttle. It's not.

If this series is properly set up, with the transition times being limited, forcing a solid pace on the climbs, an e-EWS course could and should be extremely physically challenging. Athletes would simply cover more ground than they would otherwise.
  • 4 2
 @CFJonny: It is a throttle. You just control it with your feet.
  • 5 1
 @CFJonny: I've ridden an eBike, I didn't like it. Personal preference.

I don't care if you do like them. I don't even care if you ride them on "no eBike" trails (assuming you aren't riding like an ass, which applies to non eBike riders too). But the claim of "you work just as hard" is just to make the owners feel better about their justification for riding one. NO, it is not just as much work. It NEVER will be because that is EXACTLY the point of having a battery, to remove the work.

The battery and motor are absolutely doing work for you.
  • 3 2
 @JSTootell: Sigh. Dude, as long as we're playing the assumption game, I'll set you straight. I don't have an eBike. I just understand them. They don't "do the work for you". They add to your output. So for out of shape folks that want to pedal off road, they open up that possibility. For fit people like your self, there is nothing holding you from putting out a steady 300w of effort on a climb- the bike will simply take that output and multiply it by whatever assist setting you put it on. So your 30 minute fire road climb might take 15 or 20. You might get two laps of your local trails instead of 1. A throttle creates acceleration with minimal user input- twisting the wrist, stomping the gas. There is no throttle. E-bikes aren't the boogieman. They also aren't going anywhere, so you might as well get used to them.
  • 4 1
 @CFJonny: Exactly. Fit people are fit because they are motivated and they will put in the same amount of effort on an ebike and go faster, further or both. Less fit people might ride an ebike when they wouldn't have ridden a regular bike at all (see Rob Warner for example).

I haven't ridden with my 73 year-old dad for ten years because he has a muscle wastage disease but today we did 2000ft of climbing together on wilderness MTB trails because he's bought an ebike. I can tell you he was putting in the same effort he usually does, only the assistance meant he could go where I went on my regular bike and enjoy some great views and amazing descents. It was an absolute game changer for both of us.
  • 3 0
 @CFJonny: I don't necessarily think we are in agreement. I think there's confusion about what the term "work" (ie. force x distance) really means, and the distinctions between things like force, power and overall changes in energy. When you do ride "X" on a regular bike, there is a certain force input by the rider. When doing the same ride "X" on an ebike, the force input of the rider WILL be less overall. As a result less work is done by the rider of the ebike. (note: the work of the "system" - bike plus rider - will be the same, but that's because a chunk of the force the rider is not doing must be done by the motor)

That is not to say that consequently the E-bike rider couldn't go farther, ride more, and expend the same energy EVENTUALLY, but that's comparing apples to oranges. It's just not the same thing. I agree with chriskneeland when he said that an Ebike essentially DOES have a throttle - it's just a throttle that is controlled by your feet, (that due to electronic controls will not activate unless you are also inputting force).

I think e-bikes can have their place, but we just shouldn't delude outselves into thinking we're doing the same amount of "work" as a buddy pedalling along beside us who doesn't have a motor on his bike.
  • 3 0
 @rory: ok, I'll bite, because this is fun. Yeah, for a given stretch of trail, if two people go the same speed, then obv. the one with assist is doing less "work". The key word in my first post that all the Luddites are glossing over is "necessarily"- meaning that an e-bike rider could put the same effort into a ride that a rider on a standard bike could. They would just go farther.

If you want to bring in equations, we should probably we looking at power- f x d/time. How long it takes to get the thing moved from A to B matters. But even if we kept your example to just work, the force side of the equation could be less on an eBike, but the distance side is generally greater. So it balances out.

Regarding throttles, unless you consider all pedals throttles, even on bikes that don't have an assist, I think you are mistaken. An eBike can't just accelerate without effort from the rider like a car, motorcycle, or any other vehicle with an actual throttle (Unless you consider "walk mode" a throttle).

Nobody thinks that the eBike buddy is doing the same work an analog (?) bike rider is doing, when they ride together. That's why we make them carry the beer.
  • 1 0
 @JSTootell: It is actually how you define fitness, strength or cardio. For an acoustic bike you need both but it is more a strength workout for anyone who is not in the top 20% of racing. The rest are using more strength and therefore are getting cardio, but they are not able to go hard enough strength wise to extend their cardio. And e-bike is less strength so while you can ride it easy, if you are fast you don't so you ride it harder cardio wise, which is why your hr on an ebike is 5-10 beats higher. I always ask people who have not figured it out, "if you were climbing on your bike and your legs never got tired, would you go faster" the answer is always yes, well that is an e-bike" However you can not train on an e-bike and win an acoustic race since you are not gaining the strength you need to push the acoustic bike. None of this mattered before e-bikes arrived, so why does it matter now. There are not any really fast riders who complain about e-bikes, they know the value in the training on them, the hate is reserved for the never were riders who only want to be better to look down on other riders. Your times do not make you a better person, much like the amount of money in your bank account. Just ride and have fun. I spent 20 years racing in over 450 of the worlds toughest races from world cup ski loppets, 24 hour mtb races, adventure races, open ocean and k-1 paddling races, enduro dirt bike, trials and sled etc and now all I ride is an e-bike. I put on a 1000km a month here in squamish and whistler and the volume, distance and speed and how you can push hard up steep terrain is insane. I am not trying to convince anyone to like it or do it, but it is the future and I love it, no need for justification, just like there is no need for hate on them, just ride more and bitch less, for whatever way you like to get out there...
  • 1 0
 @norona: Why do you feel the need to defend yourself? You just listed all these stats to try and prove that you are all badass. I never once said anyone was weak, or talked down on them. Never claimed my superiority. All I said was " I didn't like it. Personal preference." and that the motor is doing some of the work for you, which everyone agrees with (even if the wording is unpopular).

Personal preference

I'm not going to do a dick measuring contest on who is the better rider. I enjoy my riding at my level. But if you want to get an idea of how much I ride, assuming you are riding at my XC race pace (which is quick, but not amazing, and non assisted) then you are riding double digit percentages less time than I am. I prefer to go by hours as an hour on my 170mm, 40 pound Enduro won't get me nearly as far as an hour on my road bike.
  • 1 0
 @rory: you haven't ridden a ebike and it shows....... i work far less on my trail bike on the same dh run as i do my decoy. ripping a 50 lbs bike down a hill isn't a leisurely walk in a park.......
  • 20 0
 I learned that nations that give a shit about public health can develop COVID testing systems with sub-24hr turnaround on results.
  • 14 0
 Wet Cups and Enduro Wet Series sounds like a treat for us.
  • 5 0
 ^this. Also, California asks: what is this rain thing everyone keeps talking about?
  • 15 1
 @LokiTheCat: I have a cat named Loki... Are... are you my Loki? Wait, are walking on my laptop keyboard at home so you can comment on pinkbike while I'm at work??!! BAD LOKI! GET DOWN! I'VE TOLD YOU BEFORE, DON'T WALK ON MY LAPTOP!
  • 1 0
 @LokiTheCat: Recently rode Snow Summit in the rain. 0/10, don't recommend.
  • 9 0
 I like the Enduro Wet Series concept!
  • 4 0
 They should add sprinklers to the dry races!
  • 6 5
 Why is it so hard to get video coverage of this event? I remember last year there was some Scottish dude doing one hour long recaps. But as of now there is a 1 min video on the ews YouTube page.

It must be costly to put on these events, and then not to film some of it and get a guy with an iPhone to host it seems like a marketing fail.
  • 7 0
 That Scottish dude is Irish.
  • 4 0
 @Julzm: my wife is Scottish , or Irish.
  • 3 0
 Highlight edit dropped 2 hours ago.

GMBN is the 2020 media partner.

  • 2 0
 @casey79: awesome. Thanks mate
  • 4 0
 Any article on the first EWS-E? I heard Vouilloz came second, crazzy guy!
  • 1 1
 So finally it´s been disclosed why Borges has been censored recently in all PB photo reviews? For me hats off to took place in both. What you can gain in one side you obviously lose it into the other...
  • 2 0
 All sorts of Grammerz going on here
  • 2 0
 Here is @JesseMelamed 1st Place Race Run POV youtu.be/4PL082P3TFE
  • 1 0
 EWS Zermatt Highlights youtu.be/PCnv7nIpFWE
  • 2 0
 Downhill racing is still the Grand Prix of all the bike racing events
  • 2 0
 Is the result going to stand when it breaches the ews own rules
  • 1 0
 We learned that Theo Galy did the impossible and podiumed with only 35mm stanchions....
  • 2 1
 When do my fantasy league points get added then? Smile
  • 3 0
 Sarah and Ed are working on it now!

Edit: Sarah's podcasting, then following up w the dev team to get everything dialled. Smile
  • 2 0
 @brianpark: While Sarah is awesome on the podcast, more Christina and James please.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: Niiiice thanks Smile
  • 1 0
 Some good video of the EWS-E www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFEj6p7d39c
  • 2 0
 Go on Ella! Go on Joe!
  • 1 1
  • 3 6
 We learned that none Americans got Infected with Corona virus with guidelines in place..
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