Takes first EWS win since 2016
There was never any doubt that he had the speed — his multiple stage wins last year were a testament to that — but Richie Rude hadn't won an Enduro World Series race since the Whistler round back in 2016. That streak finally broke in France, where Richie managed to fend off Adrien Dailly over the course of eight stages of exciting racing on rocky, technical trails.
With Rude returning to form it's shaping up to be an exciting season, especially since Sam Hill has his sights set on winning another overall title, and scores of other fast riders are coming up through the ranks to duke it out for that top step. Racing resumes at the end of June in Austria, and it's sure to be a battle worth watching.
New Bikes and Components
Shimano turns it up to 12, Cannondale revamps the Lefty
A plethora of new products debuted in May, including everything from ultralight wheels
with spokes made of Vectran fiber to Cannondale's new single-crown Lefty
. Shimano finally lifted the lid on their new 12-speed
gruppo, and while it's still months away from being available, it does look promising. SRAM haven't been resting on their laurels either, and an off-road version of their wireless eTap drivetrain has been showing up on the bikes of select racers at XC World Cup events.
In the downhill world, Santa Cruz's V10 29
looks like it's getting closer to being released for public consumption, while Specialized are in the process of working on a new bike
of their own. In short, there's plenty of new bikes and components coming down the pipeline – it's shaping up to be an exciting summer.
Put those skis away, it's time to ride
Bike park season kicked off across the Northern Hemisphere in May, as resorts around the world cleared away snow and prepped their chairlifts to carry bikes instead of boards.
The Whistler Bike Park opened on May 18th, and Pinkbike was there to see what everyone was riding, tallying up totals on everything from bike brand to brake preference. It turns out that the Specialized Demo is still a favorite, followed by the Norco Aurum. SRAM took the top spot in the braking department, with Shimano sitting in a close second. You can check out all the results here
Big names taken out of contention
Unfortunately, injuries are a part of mountain biking, and even the best riders in the world occasionally take a tumble that puts them out of commission. May seemed to take a particularly heavy toll, with the likes of Jesse Melamed
, Jack Moir
, and Greg Minnaa
r all suffering injuries that will force them to sit out at least one or two races.
The sport's top athletes seem to have superhuman recovery speeds, and there's no doubt that we'll see Jesse, Jack, Greg, and the others on the DL list back in action before too long, but it's always tough to see a race favorite forced to watch from the sidelines due to an injury.
Julien Absalon retires
Julien Absalon has had an amazing career of cross-country racing, racking up a list of accomplishments that includes two Olympic gold medals, five World Championships, thirty-three World Cup victories. It wasn't lack of fitness, or the inability to stay up at the sharp end of the pack that made him decide to announce his retirement from full-time competition, though. It was pollen.
According to Absalon, his pollen allergies have grown worse over the years, and “I do not want to race when I can not race at 100-percent. I can not imagine racing when I am unable to compete for the victory. That's why I quit. I am not sad, however. My doctors told me my lungs have done tremendous efforts, breathing millions of liters of air, inhaling lots of pollen in the time. After twenty years, they might have gotten a bit tired. It's a sign for me; I gave it all, so it might be time to stop. You push your body to the limits, and after twenty years there is no reason to be sad.”
Abaslon may not be rolling up to the starting line at World Cup races anymore, but there's no doubt he'll remain involved with mountain biking in various roles for years to come.