EWS 2016: The Season So Far - The Middle Part

Sep 15, 2016
by Matt Wragg  

La Thuile was a riders' favourite when it last featured on the circuit in 2014 - only narrowly losing out to Nevados de Chillan for the best race of the year. While the altitudes may not be as lung-busting as Colorado, the young, jagged Alps provided for what was surely the biggest mountain race of the year. The tracks were unforgiving too, with one former World Cup racer remarking that the fifth stage was essentially the Val di Sole race track, but extended indefinitely. Unlike the series' last visit here the weather played nice this time, to put together what would be the betting man's early favourite for 2016's race of the year...

Fresh of her Trans-Provence victory Anita Gehrig will surely be on the hunt for a podium spot this weekend.
At the start of the week the weather threatened to repeat the conditions of 2014, but come the race days the clouds disappeared and the sun shone over the mountains.

Toni Ferreiro was a sensation in the opening rounds in Chile and Argentina but struggled in Ireland. We re back to a more downhill-oriented race here so he could be one to watch this weekend.
La Thuile always provides some of the most stunning backdrops anywhere in racing.

Eyes on the prize. While Richie Rude may have been supreme Sam Hill got second on every stage today a little way clear of the series regulars.
Sam Hill bagged a second place in Ireland, riding consistently all day. In La Thuile he went one step further and although he still ended in second, was consistently second place on every stage, ahead of the season regulars. What's more, he was enjoying himself more than he has on the WC DH circuit in recent years. His move to focus on the final two EWS races of the season over the World Cup comes down to one simple thing: he's a man who just loves riding his bike and the EWS is offering him a great chance to do that.

The bent peak on Cecile Ravanel s helmet is due to crashing into Jared Graves at the top of stage one as he accidentally wandered into the line. It doesn t seem to have dented her confidence as she sits over a minute ahead of her competitors this evening.
While Tracy may have bested her in Ireland, Cecile took the race in La Thuile to reaffirm that she is a class apart from the rest of the field right now.

EWS 4 2016 La Thuile Italy. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Richie Rude was in commanding form to show that Ireland was just a blip on the radar in his campaign to retain his title.

Photo Epics:



Raceday One

Raceday Two

Privateer Special

For round five the series headed to the thin air of Colorado - always a punishing weekend for riders who don't live over a mile above sea-level. The organisers worked hard to put on something that would surprise the riders. In a country where it is notoriously difficult to build new tracks, they convinced Aspen-Snowmass to dig in almost an entire day of racing on fresh tracks. Coming from Europe that may not seem like a huge achievement, but honestly, it was a huge step that took a massive amount of work behind the scenes. On day two the racing took a turn towards the more usual fare people expect in the US, but the important thing from the first day was to show the resort what riders prefer and expect for racing at this level - and expect things to get even better for next year.

After racing at this altitude some canned oxygen is welcome relief.
You need to get oxygen however you can in Colorado...

Not good news for the champ. A crash on stage two in practice meant caused a mild separation to his shoulder. He sat out day two of practice but is hoping to race come Saturday.
The big news as practice began was that Richie Rude went down hard early on, tweaking his shoulder and putting him on the backfoot for the rest of the week. It's a testament to how tough he is that he skipped day two of practice, but raced over the weekend to salvage vital series points.

What can we say about Adrien Dailly Dominating the under-21 field once more with a time that would put him in 9th in the GC.
In the men's Under-21 competition Adrien Dailly continued to dominate, putting in a ride that would place him in the senior top ten.

Supreme is the only word for Cecile Ravanel right now. Three wins from three stages - she is the class of the field this year and only an incident tomorrow looks able to stop her.
In the women's competition, Cecile Ravanel continued to dominate, making it 4/5 in 2016.

Pure focus from Graves. After a troubled season his 20 second lead this evening is where many people expected to see him this year.
After a difficult start to the season, Jared Graves put himself where many expected to see him all season, taking his first victory aboard a Specialized in commanding fashion.

Photo Epics:



Raceday One

Raceday Two

Round six took the series back to its annual stop in Whistler. While the venue may not change, the race does each year, mutating and evolving to keep riders on their toes. This year the race added more pedaling compared to last year, but continued to mix trails on different sides of the valley to offer a real diversity to the challenges on track. All this was topped off by the final descent down the iconic Top to the World trail which would ultimately decide the race.

The result we really care about is just seeing ACC here on track but you can see she still has the pace if not the fitness getting third on the shorter fourth stage but struggling on the more physical outings.
Whistler saw the legendary Anne-Caroline Chausson back on track after her battle with cancer last year. Despite the illness, she showed she still has the bike handling skills by taking third on the shorter stage four, even if her fitness may not have been what it once was. This may well be the last time we see the Olympic gold medalist and 18-time world champion on track at world level racing as she plans to step away from the race circuit next year.

Sometimes you bite the beast other days the beast bites you.
Racing in Whistler takes no prisoners as the day broke both bodies and bikes, as Alex Cure found out the hard way, taking a big knock to the head on the final stage.

It was an emotional affair for the Melamed clan to see Jesse stake his claim for a place among the fastest racers in the world.
Whistler-native, Jesse Melamed, has started to really come into form this year, becoming a frequent visitor to the top ten. In Whistler, he stepped it up even further and only a heroic ride from Richie on the final stage denied him the overall. While at first he was clearly stunned and heartbroken at being edged out at the last second, once it settled in that he had taken second it was clear how much the result meant to both him and his family.

Cecile Ravanel punctured on both stages one and two - word is that her rim was some damaged that she had to beat it back into shape with a rock to keep her going until she could get to the tech area.
A difficult morning did little to slow down Cecile Ravanel as she shrugged off mechanical problems on the early stages to once more stamp her authority on 2016.

Richie Rude is a force of nature. At the bottom of stage two he was running with a rear flat but the pace he was carrying despite that was terryifying.
When we talk about a champion's ride, we talk about overcoming adversity to shine through. That is exactly what Richie Rude did in Whistler. After problem-filled stages one and two, he regrouped on stages three and four and utterly dominated the final stage to make one of the biggest comebacks we have ever seen in EWS racing. Going into the final two rounds his lead is such that he only needs to ride conservatively in the final two rounds to ensure he holds onto that number one plate for 2017.

Photo Epics:



We are excited to see what unfolds at the next two rounds.

MENTIONS: @EnduroWorldSeries / @mattwragg

Author Info:
mattwragg avatar

Member since Oct 29, 2006
750 articles

  • 21 0
 That picture of ACC brings a small tear to my eye. What a champion!
  • 4 0
 an inspiration to all
  • 8 0
 I wanna be reborn with skills of an EWS rider
  • 5 0
 If the EWS keeps to courses as steep and gnarly as La Thuile then more former WC DH riders will be turning up....and Sam Hill will be able to challenge to win the EWS.
  • 3 1
 Always get a kick out of the visitors who come to Colorado struggling to breathe... But I do love going down to sea level to ride Smile
  • 3 0
 I don't think it makes much difference going to sea level*... you might have to double check me. What you want to be able to do is train hard at sea level and then sleep/recover at high elevation. Or buy a hypobaric chamber haha

*I can never tell one way or the other because I'm usually riding in places so much hotter that I'm having trouble dealing with the heat...
  • 3 1
 Did anyone see Richie Rude huck the final drop to flat at Whistler!?!?!?! Holy heck
  • 4 0
 guys on DH rigs don't even go that big most the time. he's a grizzly bear on a bike.
  • 1 0
 Where can I see it?
  • 1 0
 In the Aspen section, who are the 3 girls taking in oxygen? Cant work out who it is!
  • 3 0
 Ines Thoma, Carolin Gehrig and Anita Gehrig.
  • 2 0
 The Gherig twins and ??? Is it Innes Thoma from Canyon?
  • 3 1
 The EWS is awesome, this keeps getting better every year
  • 1 0
 That picture of Graves in Aspen should be used to teach people the proper body position for cornering.
  • 2 0
 The one of ACC could be used as well.
  • 2 1
 richie is rudely dominating the ews this season
  • 3 0
 I can see you're quite the observant fellow Wink

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