With most of the big team moves out in the open now, we're into the phase of less exciting team press releases. So when Commencal put out a release yesterday
with the headline "Cécile Ravanel and Yoann Barelli Stay with the Commencal Vallnord Enduro Team for 2018" it flew under most people's radars, ours included. Yet within that press release, there is a bombshell for the EWS women's title chase this year - Cécile Ravanel may miss some of the rounds to compete in Crankworx and/or World Cup DH.
This is huge news for the women's field. For the last two seasons, she has been supreme, sweeping all before her with nobody able to consistently challenge her for the top step. The big question is: What does this mean for the title? There are two possibilities, we can see her either not looking to contest the title or, more woundingly for her competitors, she believes she can win the title with races to spare, as she did in 2017.
While it may not always come across in the English-language media, Cécile has a lot of fun racing, away from the track she is one of the friendliest, happiest racers you could hope to meet and after two years of domination she seems to be itching for a new challenge. In 2017 she competed at the Val di Sole World Cup DH, putting in a credible 10th in the finals. The smart money says that she can do quite a bit better than that with more time to prepare and clean runs. At Crankworx she would be a good bet for the Queen of Crankworx title - Kintner, Buchanan and Beerten would probably have the edge on the pumptrack, while Cecile has a big advantage in enduro, and in the DH it would be an exciting showdown to watch. All of this is all the more exciting when you consider her career trajectory, having started out with XCO, then switching to enduro and now making her World Cup DH debut in her 30s.
Of course, this comes at the expense of the EWS. In a series that still lies somewhat under the shadow of Tracy Moseley and Ann-Caroline Chausson, losing Cécile as the star of the women's field, even for some of the season, would be a huge loss. However, if Cécile really could switch up disciplines and find success at DH or Crankworx, that would surely cement her position as one of the greatest female bicycle racers of all time.
We've been in touch with Cécile to get the official word, so stay tuned for more.