Photo Epic presented by ODI
After a few years of what felt like constant rain and mud on the EWS circuit, it was amazing to kick off the 5th straight round under warm sunny skies in Les Orres. No longer the Enduro Wet Series, racers have been loving the dry and consistent conditions that make for fast and agressive racing.
On the first of two race days here in France racers would tackle 4 stages that descended from well above the tree line and finished below the base of the resort in the valley far below. The 2nd of these first four stages would be the designated queen stage, which would provide its winner with additional points towards the overall championship.
The day would start with drama straight away as Sam Hill would suffer a puncture on the first stage, eventually causing him to miss his start time on stage two. Richie Rude and Eddie Masters were separated by just a fraction of a second until stage 2 where Richie would begin to pull away despite a huge crash over the bars. In the women's race, Isabeau Courdurier would dominate once again pulling out a healthy lead over Raphaela Richter who is racing her first EWS since 2017. In third would be a charging Andreane Lanthier-Nadeau who was still feeling the effects of a huge training crash. On Stage 3 the men's order would switch once again as Richie lost time and slid back to third while Adrien Dailly took over the number two spot and Eddie Masters jumped back into the lead. Heading into the final stage of the day these three were only separated by 3 seconds after nearly 25 minutes of racing.
The final stage of the day would be the shortest of the weekend but yet again there would be a change at the front as Adrien Dailly jumped up a spot to relegate Eddie and Richie to second and third respectively. The time gap would remain at three seconds between these three as the race heads into its second day and four more long stages. In the women's race disaster would strike for ALN as she would slide way back after stage 3 leaving the door for Ines Thoma and Noga Korem to jump into podium contention. Richter would limit her losses to Isabeau and continued to make gains over third and fourth place. Ines would round out the top three with Noga close behind
With constant changes in the top three of both classes through the day and even more back and forth between riders in the top 10, tomorrow's final four stages are guaranteed to be nail biters that will see riders fighting for position until the very end. But for now, it seems the French are in full control on home soil.