There has been a lot of head scratching in the pits this evening. Richie Rude was utterly dominant today. While he may have won the first two stages, the 33 seconds he put into everybody on the third and final stage that is just mind-blowing. It was a stage that many thought would not figure much in the fight for the win, but somehow he found the pace to put himself into a commanding position going into the second day of racing. In the women's field, Cecile Ravanel is equally dominant, but something that is expected from her this season. In the under-21 field, the two leading lights, Adrien Dailly and Seb Claquin are clear of their rivals with times that would place them both inside the senior top ten.
Another beautiful day to kick off the start to racing in La Thuile.
Mckay Vezina may be new to the EWS, but he has got the measure of the morning ritual already here in Italy - one coffee for each hand, and an impressive 16th after day one.
The two riders who are dominating the under-21 field right now, Seb Claquin and Adrien Dailly, get ready to hit the course.
Ines Thoma has some slightly sore ligaments in her wrist, but she was feeling good to race this morning.
Josh Carlson was ready to get going bright and early.
Cip is one of the mainstays of the Superenduro series organisation, although he is softening these days and has replaced with his trademark cigar with a liquorice stick.
The hardest part of the day was the transfer to stage one. It was practically all downhill from there.
Everyone pulls weird faces when you find a giant spider chilling on you.
Dropping into the jaws of insanity.
Nothing but blue skies meant that Monte Bianco would dominate the backdrop on every stage.
Adrien Dailly smashed the under-21 field today, putting in a time that was fast enough for third in the senior field.
Seb Claquin may be second in the under-21 race this evening, but his time was still good enough for tenth in the senior race.
Chris Kilmurray has one of the more unusual pre-race routines, it almost looks like an interpretive dance but be sure that every movement is precisely calculated to mobilise the muscles and joints for racing.
Gusti Wildhaber speeds through the alpine meadow.
Miranda Miller is crushing her first EWS - sixth this evening.
Caro Gehrig had a third on one stage today, but still ended the day a few places behind her sister Anita... The sibling rivalry continues on Sunday.
Florian Nicolai is currently in 5th, over a minute behind race leader Richie Rude. However he is just a few seconds off the podium and could easily mix things up on Sunday.
Tony Ferreiro is always a threat on the long DH style enduro races and is currently sitting 11th in front of a lot of heavy EWS hitters.
Jared Graves said stage one gave him nothing but trouble to start the day off the pace, but he pulled back time later in the afternoon to stay within the top 10.
Isabeau Courdurier drops into the top of stage two with the imposing presence of Monte Bianco in the background. She is currently in second place and quite a far way off the pace of Cecile.
Some of the sections looked more like a DH track than an EWS with riders riding at full gas, foot out and flat out.
Rene Wildhaber was given a one-minute penalty for being a bit too relaxed on the 1000m climb to stage one, and in turn missing his start time.
Rae Morrison looked super smooth on the steep switchbacks of stage one, but a crash in the lower woods would cut her day short with a shoulder injury.
Anita Gehrig is not only winning in her battle with her twin, Caro, but is in third this evening and in sight of a possible first EWS podium this weekend.
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.
The EWS video crew was treated to a day in flying scaffolding for some stellar aerial footage.
You don't need to go to Rampage to get helicopters in the background. 18th today probably isn't what Jerome Clementz was after this weekend.
Damien Oton definitely goes well here in La Thuile - this evening he is sitting third, his highest placing in a while.
Fabien Barel had a mixed today, ripping his derailleur off on stage one, but on stages two and three he made it into the top ten - his goal for the weekend.
Francois Bailly-Maitre nearly won here two years ago, he's a little further back tonight, but back in the top ten once more.
Ines Thoma had a bit of a nightmare on stage one today, but used stages two and three to race herself back into contention today, back in reach of the podium.
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.
Nico Lau kept getting faster and faster throughout the day. Lau took 8th on stage one, then halved that for two, and finished third on stage three.
Fabien Barel lost a bit of drivetrain on stage one which landed him in 138th position. He rode to a 10th on stage two and 8th on three to finish 39th for the day.
Richie Rude is on another planet. If people weren't shaking their heads in wonder, they should have been.
Joe Barnes gives the thumbs up after a well raced day one.
Francois Baily-Maitre makes some final checks on his steed after a solid day one of racing.
Alexandre Cure had a solid day racing to ninth place.
Alex Cure bagged his first top ten in a while today, something many people, including Barel and Vouilloz have expected of him as they rate him as one of the most talented riders in the series.
It was bad news for Ludo May this evening. On stage three a branched stabbed through his foot, meaning he is off to the hospital this evening. He is in good spirits, but his weekend is over.
Jesse Melamed proved today that nice guys don't finish last, with a stunning sixth for him today. He admitted that he was nervous all day once he found out Sam Hill would be following him on track, but was determined to stay ahead of him. The pressure seemed to work well for him.
Everyone else came off this drop and got pulled wide into the corner. Richie Rude just smashed all the rocks instead and took the straight line through.
With a 53 second lead after three stages, Richie Rude showed exactly why he has a huge #1
printed on his back.
Curtis Keene is one of the nicest guys out there, and hardest working, and finally is putting all the pieces together to crack into the top 10 where he belongs.
Greg Callaghan finished 3rd on the first stage of day but would suffer a front flat on stage three, ending his hopes of repeating his victory from the last round
Nico Vouilloz has found his way to the podium once already this year, but it's not looking like he will repeat that form again here in Italy.
Always in a good mood, even with bad luck and injuries knocking him back in previous rounds, Jesse Melamed finally smashed out the runs we know he is capable of. 6th after day one for the humble Canadian.
After an injury sidelined Andreane Nadeau for the past few rounds, it seems she's just about fully recovered and is sitting in 4th with her sights set on the podium.
Troy Brosnan is having fun on the long DH oriented stages, many of which descend close to 1000m with little or no chance to rest.
Some of the Italians had some pretty baller lines at the top of stage one.
Grubby Graves kicking up dust on stage one. Grave finished the day in eighth place.
Greg Callaghan rode to third place on stage one, then had a crash on two that put him in 171st for the stage. He finished the day with a seventh place finish on stage three and is sitting in 48th.
Jerome Clementz entering the lower half of stage one. Clementz was a touch off pace today finishing 18th overall.
Sam Hill was deuces wild today, taking second place on every stage.
For the second round in a row, these flat pedals are headed for the EWS podium.
It's good to see Sam Hill smiling and excited about riding bikes again.
The face Richie Rude made when Yeti team management informed him he would be racing Sunday with full DH tires front and rear... Just in case.
It's a busy evening for the mechanics tonight, working late to get the battered bikes ready for action tomorrow.
Just another A1 day here in La Thuile.