Another hot day and nothing but sunshine greeted racers as they headed out for the more physical of the two race days in Ainsa. With Stage 1 being the most brutal of the weekend it would set the tone for the day as Cecile Ravanel and Richie Rude pulled impressive time gaps on their competition right from the get go. It would also claim some of the first victims of the weekend in Thomas Lapyrie and Robin Walner who would be forced to retire from the race.
Cecile would go on to win all four stages in the day to finish clear of Isabeau Courdurier and ALN, with Noga Korem threatening for the final podium spot in 4th. Richie too would dominate the day by winning stages 2 and 3 before conceeding a few seconds to a charging Martin Maes on Stage 4. Damion Oton rode most of the day in the second position but would get bumped by Maes at the very end to close out day one in third.
The biggest drama behind the scenes would be series leader Sam Hill who would suffer a devastating front puncture on the physical Stage 2, losing prescious time and possibly points in the overall. In the true spirit of EWS sportsmanship the man with the most to gain from Hill's mechanical, Martin Mae's, would be the man who helped Sam repair his bike at the finish line to ensure he would make it to the next stage on time.
Day 2 will showcase three much steeper and more technical stages with the risk of crashes and mechanicals very high, especially on the opening stage. Richie and Cecile certainly have the speed and motivation but as everyone saw today with Sam Hill, anything can and very well may happen.