There was something, or rather someone, missing from the podium of the Enduro World Series this last year. Call it pressure, call it the curse of the champions jersey, call it bad luck, call it whatever you want. It was confusing that the most dominant man in the EWS for two years didn't seem to be near the podium. Being a man of so few words, we might not get that answer, and to be honest it doesn't matter now. What matters now is that Richie Rude is back.
What was already an exciting EWS season just got gas thrown on it. It's quite possibly become a knife fight. The new king and the king returned, fighting for the throne. This is new beggings all over and it's going to be exciting to watch. Richie Rude came out swinging and rode like a man on a mission. Tires sounding tortured trying to maintain grip. With his early stage wins, he had a commanding lead, but the excitement got to him on the shortest stage of the race, costing him nine seconds. That said, he kept it together on day two after a night of rain turned these brutal French stages into tracks full of slick, treacherous teeth. Adrien Dailly would claim the second spot on the day and Martin Maes was back after injury in Colombia to take third. For Sam Hill, it was a race of protection. He rode conservatively and maintained his lead. In the women's race, Cecile Ravanel took the win again and Isabeau Courdurier took second after a bad crash in practice. Ines Thoma returned to the podium to take third place.
It should be worth noting that coming into this round the was skepticism about the scandal that has surrounded the last round in France and penalties for infractions of rules of late. It was refreshing to see a round without the cloud of scandal hovering over its head. No major infractions were reported over the weekend. As for Olargues, itself, it's been a hell of a venue. Great people, gnarly tracks, superb racing and beautiful views. You can't ask for much better than that.
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