EWS 2016: 20 Riders to Watch

Mar 16, 2016
by Matt Wragg  
When we first wrote a Riders to Watch piece in 2014, we gave you a breakdown of the riders we thought would be at the sharp end of the racing. For 2016, this piece is a little different. If you're reading this today, we hope we don't need to tell you who Richie Rude, Jerome Clementz or Jared Graves are. So this year our list is slightly different... For the men's race, we are going to assume you know who most of the top ten are, instead we will take a look outside there for riders we think might be moving forwards in the standings. For the women's competition, we are going to look a bit farther forwards as it is going to be an exciting year to watch as Tracy Moseley steps aside and Anne-Caroline Chausson remains on the sidelines through illness. That means this year should bring a crop of fresh faces onto the podium and hopefully we will see more women than ever in the mix each weekend.






When we wrote our first Riders to Watch piece, many people called us out for omitting Francois Bailly-Maitre. We would admit that they were right too. In 2014, the former XC racer was oh-so-close to winning, consistently running at the sharp end almost every weekend. 2015 wasn't the follow up he had hoped for though and his results erred towards the solid rather than spectacular. He has shown without a doubt he has the skills and fitness to run at the front, so the question is whether he can fight his way back there in 2016?






This year is a huge year for Cecile Ravanel and it is going to be fascinating to see how she copes with the pressure as the rider most expect to take the title this year. Throughout the reign of Tracy and ACC she was consistently the closest to those two, rarely missing a podium and storming to her first victory in Whistler, 2014. So with the path ahead of her clear this year, there is going to be a giant target pinned to her back as the woman to beat in 2016. What we want to know is whether she will thrive under that pressure?






There must be days when Josh Carlson feels that if he didn't have bad luck he wouldn't have any luck at all. From the very first round of the EWS in Punta Ala, 2013, it was clear he had all the tools to be a serious contender. Then injury struck, and again in 2014. In 2015, he kept it rubber side down for a whole season, but we really only saw his full potential in Whistler when he was sweeping all before him until a puncture cruelly rained on his parade. His best result of 2015 was a 9th in Scotland, but for the final two rounds he was consistently running close to the top ten - will this give him the confidence he needs to flourish in 2016?






The biggest question over Anneke Beerten right now is, "How will she adapt to the GT?" Switching from Specialized to the GT team over the winter means she will be attacking this season aboard the Sanction, which is a very different tool to the Enduro and Stumpjumper 29ers she has raced on for the past three years. The Sanction is far more of a sledgehammer of a bike, compared to the bigger-wheeled Specialized bikes she has done so well on. It should be a genuinely interesting question for race fans - whether her downhill background means we will see her really come into her own with the burlier weapon?






Mark Scott is making the big step this year - from essentially a privateer setup to a full factory ride with Santa Cruz. It is always a delicate time for a rider and certainly a make or break point - will the extra support (and pressure) from a big back bring the best out of him? In 2015 he was consistently close to the top ten, so is the support what he needs to tip him over into a solid top ten finisher?






Isabeau's fourth place finish last year is nothing short of remarkable. Throughout the previous winter she was in Canada for her studies (and not in the fun, west coast side of the country), so coming into the season she had barely touched a bike for months. On top of that, she was competing against women who were riding full-time, where she was juggling both studies and work. Yet as the season went on and her pace returned, she cemented her place as a front-runner with third place finishes in both Whistler and Ainsa. In the season finale, in Finale, she was struck down by food poisoning and denied her chance to make it a hattrick. With a new team and chance to quit work so she now only has to balance studies and riding, not work too, plus a winter getting in some good saddle time, she looks placed to stake her claim as one of the front-runners in the women's field.






This young Frenchman was on the verge of a huge breakthrough last year, but it was a breakthrough that never quite came. In the overnight standings at round four in Samoens, he was leading after day one but slipped back to fifth when evening drew in on Sunday. Yet anybody who has seen him ride will be sure that he has the ability to run with the fast boys, so will we see him come good on that potential in 2016?






Ines Thoma will probably want to forget 2015 if she can. A thyroid condition really hampered her racing and she struggled through the first few races, as she worked to bring her health back into control. Yet as the season drew to a close she found her form once more and closed out the season with a podium finish in Finale. Now, with a solid winter of training behind her and her health strong, she is heading into the 2016 season with high hopes.






The say the follow-up album is the hardest, and after a stellar 2014, Damien Oton struggled to find form in 2015. To make matters even more miserable, he smashed his ankle to pieces in Scotland. To see the amount of pain he was riding in to try and stay in contention says everything you need to know about his drive and determination to succeed. With his ankle strong once more and a hunger to prove that his second place finish in 2014 wasn't a one-hit wonder, expect the Catalan Eagle to come out swinging in 2016.






With ACC on the sidelines, the hopes of the Ibis team rest squarely on the shoulders of Anita Gehrig to take them to the front of the women's competition. After her solid sixth place finish in the series on 2015, Ibis have stepped up her sponsorship so she can dedicate her winter to training for the season ahead and she surely must have her eyes set on trying to bag her first podium in 2016.






In World Cup downhill there has been a long-standing, unofficial accolade handed out by the media for the rider who wins practice. That is to say, the rider who goes biggest, wildest and loosest during the practice days. In enduro, Marco Osborne got a lock on that title during 2015, smashing tracks apart, hitting everything full gas and usually completely blind. On race day, he never seemed to find that same magic, but if he does, he is shoe-in for a breakthrough result.






Our Unofficial Privateer of the year in 2015, Meggie Bichard has had a tough time since the second half of the 2015 season. In the final few races of the year, six months of travel, racing every weekend and crashing really caught up with her, and it was apparent that the spark that meant she could open her season with top five finishes was missing. Mid-winter things got worse for Meggie, and a huge crash while out shuttling left her with both arms in slings. We doubt we'll see her at the sharp end for the start of the season, but once she is back up to pace, her sights will be firmly on the top five.






Aside from his race results, Alex Cure deserves some kind of award for his ride in Ireland last year, tackling the gnarliest chute of the weekend with only half a handlebar and one brake. Despite riding two stages like that, he still managed to ride home for a 22nd that weekend, more than a little bit impressive. Right now he is studying for a demanding degree in engineering alongside his riding, so that fact he is mixing it up with full-time riders says everything that needs to be said about his ability. While we may not see him winning races in the immediate, he is definitely a name to watch for the future.






Raewyn Morrison very nearly took our privateer of the year award in 2015. Despite finishing just behind fellow Kiwi, Meggie, in the points, she certainly had a much stronger finish to her season with a brace of fifth places in the final two rounds. With support from Lapierre, this year she now has the backing to make the next step up the ladder and the podium must surely be on her mind.






For 2016, the Swede will be heading up Ibis' enduro team. In 2015, he tried his hand at enduro and decided to commit fully as he enjoyed what he saw. His results were impressive for someone who admits that he hadn't prepared specially for the racing, with consistent top 20 placings and a season best of 14th in Whistler. A career-long privateer, he has always worked hard to build his own programme, but for the first time, he has a team behind him so it will be interesting how much further he can go with that kind of support. While all the racers put in the hard miles during the winter, we reckon those in frozen Sweden are harder than most, as he targets a top ten placing.






Tracy Moseley has long been a public advocate for how talented and determined Katy Winton is. As Tracy steps aside, we are sure she had some say in Winton's stepping into her place on the Trek team. A regular face in the top ten for a few years now, this year she now has full factory support, a proven race-winning bike, a new trainer (Chris Kilmurray, who also trains Greg Callaghan and the CRC Nukeproof team) and Tracy as a mentor. It's hard to imagine a better setup to reach her maximum potential, so we are excited to see how far she can go with this support.






We were heart-broken for Jesse when he broke his foot last year, not just because it meant he missed his home race in Whistler, but because the year before he got his first stage win there and was looking even fitter and faster in 2015. In fact, he was looking fast through the 2015 season until his injury, adding solid results to his undeniable flair on a bike. Still, with a long off-season to get his foot back to 100%, Canada's number one enduro racer will be looking to get into the top ten this year more consistently.






We would really like to be writing here about how talented Lorraine is, how she is one of the best bike handlers in the entire women's field. But we can't. At round four in Samoens last year she suffered a serious head injury and today she is still fighting just to do the simple things like go back to work again, let alone return to high-level competition. It is a sobering reminder that this sport can leave us with life-changing injuries if things go wrong. That said, we have no doubt as to how tough she is and hope that pretty soon we can go back to writing about how fast she is once more.






We will admit to having a massive softspot for our favourite gun-toting, shit-talking, American enduro dirtbag. He's not had it easy for the last few years though - in both 2013 and 2014 he showed consistent top ten pace, only to blighted by the worst luck each and every time it looked like he was going to break through. Come 2015 it was clear to see that those two years had taken their toll on him, he came into the season out of shape and off pace, the spark and the anger that had him vying for the title of America's top enduro racer were gone. This winter it has been all change for the Norcal native though, with a new team, a new bike and even a new home in the mountains. The anger seems to be back too, after such a miserable time in the past couple of years he is hungry to prove to the world that he can still be a contender in 2016.






Andreane certainly takes the prize for lightning firing into the competition from nowhere in 2015. Her background is in XC racing and Ainsa was her first time racing a high-level enduro race like that. The fact that she walked away with a fourth place finish is a stunning result. This year she joins the Rocky Mountain team full-time, and with their history of unearthing new, young talent it seems like a natural fit. Now she is setting her sights on enduro it is going to be interesting to see just how far she can go.


MENTIONS: @EnduroWorldSeries




70 Comments

  • + 117
 Hmm.. I do not appear to have made the list. Again.
  • + 9
 Ditto, its BS right!?
  • + 47
 Probably means you're already in the top ten.
  • + 27
 watch out for me yinz guys, i'll be lightin' up mid-pack in the amateur division, actively seeking out spoke tensioners, actin' like i know what i'm doin with my b screw, and pensively starin' (but not really sayin' anything) to that one dude who always decides to sly-dog his way right in front of me in the stage line. i hope you try to fart mid-run and shit yourself.
  • + 1
 Don't worry, probably next year... Wink
  • + 1
 Maybe this is your year to come out of nowhere to shock the world.
  • + 88
 I'm a big fan of the gender neutrality of this article. Obviously the riders are still segregated into alternating groups, but it makes for a much more engaging read than if grouped all together in succession.
  • - 24
flag nvranka (Mar 16, 2016 at 15:25) (Below Threshold)
 a more engaging read because they alternate male-female? Really?
  • + 2
 totally agree man!!
  • + 41
 I am thinking Yoan Barelli is ready for a few wins....but I guess we are already watching him Smile ...
  • + 2
 I was expecting him on the list!
  • + 3
 Already in the top 10, this is more the guys outside looking to break into the top 10, definately deserves more coverage though!
  • + 23
 What about Jeffsy?
  • + 14
 I still watch Jared Graves calves and Emily Batty's ambitions...
  • + 12
 Good list, I would also add Curtis Keene, he was plagued with injury last season and a new teammate should stoke him out.
  • + 5
 Rooting for transplant-local-boy CK!
  • + 10
 Loving the race coverage!!

@PinkBike, the formatting is really messed up on the mobile version (iPhone) and and I can't see a fair portion of the left side. As a result, I have to switch to desktop view.
  • + 3
 On android here, had to switch to desktop as well. It was going to the far left as well on mine.
  • + 2
 Same here on ios
  • + 10
 The only time Anneke will ever stare at me.
  • - 3
 I assure you, there are other ways... you just need to drop your standards dramatically and get public with it. You can catch anyone's attention by being creative with getting grouse. But be sure that if Bas de Bever is around he'll go Bas Rutten on you...
  • + 5
 Marco is a home town hero for Novato CA. Really excited to be able to ride with him again this year at the TDS Enduro coming up in a few weeks! The guys at Soulid.me will be filming again to make another sick video where Marco's skills will shine.
  • + 9
 No Joe Barnes?
  • + 3
 I was half expecting (and hoping) him in the list!
  • + 3
 10th, 7th and 8th overall in the 3 years of EWS. I think it's safe to say he's covered by "we are going to assume you know who most of the top ten are, instead we will take a look outside there".
  • + 1
 I didn't know he was in the top ten already. Good to know! Thanks @mark-88
  • + 8
 Kyle Warner, write it down kids.
  • + 8
 Martin maes is the man to watch !
  • + 5
 I thought Marco Osborne was only racing North American races and the EWS when it came state-side. Is he going to be racing the full EWS calendar this year?
  • + 16
 @FaastEddie Im going to be racing the whole ews series this year!!
  • + 1
 Sweet! I'm so stoked for you! I like watching you ride. Its gonna be a great EWS this year. Good luck and rip it!
  • + 4
 whatch this one too pt-pt.facebook.com/zemanel.borges
a friend of mine who i try too keep up with ahah
got a ride With BH gravity racing and is going to race the all EWS
  • + 2
 Surprised not to see Cody Kelley on the list. He is now on a full EWS factory team with the overall champ as his team mate. The kid has some of the most insane bike handling skills ever and just needs that boost of riding with someone like Rude to take it to the next level.
  • + 7
 Heal up fast, Lorraine!
  • + 5
 Greg Callaghan should be on this list. He will definitely be up for repeating his Irish win last year!
  • + 2
 I agree, I scrolled through just looking for him ;(
  • + 6
 Callaghan is already competing at the sharp end, no need to include him, it's up and coming riders/riders who will break into the top ten this year that this list was focusing on, Callaghan is looking good for great results already.
  • + 1
 Even though he missed a race or two with injury his earlier stellar results coupled with a reasonable finish to the season kept him top ten. Saw him ride the Munster Enduro last week. Looked incredibly strong. If i was a betting man I'd be putting a few bob on him for the overall.
  • + 4
 Is there gonna be anyway to watch some of the EWS via live this year? site to stream from? Redbull TV? PB Live Stream?
  • + 4
 I was told Redbull and EWS could not come to an agreement and so Redbull will not be televising the event. It seems like such a logistical nightmare to try and film...
  • + 4
 I bet GT loves that photo of Anneke Beerten on a Specialized Enduro.
  • + 2
 Probably just as much as Rocky Mountain does the photo of Isabeu Courdurier.
  • + 2
 Where can one watch the EWS on TV? I understand that live coverage might be tricky, but a WRC style show would be super cool.
  • + 4
 Judging by this list there's at least 20 guys already in the top 10.
  • + 3
 There should be a night EWS stage with lighting setups. Will sell more lights.
  • + 3
 stop dreaming were all waiting for the rude vs graves battle
  • + 3
 Just put it in cruz control, Ben!
  • + 2
 nice one
  • + 2
 Watch out for Kyle Warner!
  • + 3
 Blenki!!
  • + 2
 Wyn!
  • + 2
 Eddie!
  • + 0
 Is it something trapped in my eye or I sow one-leg downhill fork with two crown at Marco Osborne's bike? Tell me please what is the name of it?
  • + 1
 "Lefty"
  • + 1
 Thanks!
  • + 2
 Bryan Regnier
  • + 1
 20 minutes into enduro and chill, Alex Cure gives you this look....
  • + 1
 that photo of Alex Cure is amazing
  • + 1
 Hey pink bike you do know I'll be riding the aspen/snowmass round right?
  • + 1
 Is it just me or does Alex Cure look really laid back under pressure?
  • + 1
 yoann barelli ?? nico quere ???
  • + 1
 What about Bryan Regnier?
  • + 1
 Great list!!!
  • + 1
 i saw a lefty!
  • + 0
 Ben Cruz is a stretch. I'd like to see it though.
  • + 0
 Valentina Macheda?
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