Pinkbike Primer: Everything You Need to Know Ahead of EWS Zermatt 2020

Aug 27, 2020
by James Smurthwaite  

The season closer from 2019 opens proceedings in 2020, it has just been that kind of year. We're back in Zermatt for round 1 of the 2020 EWS season and anticipation is high after nearly 12 months without any EWS racing. Unfortunately, not every rider is here, including three-time champion Sam Hill who, along with other top riders, elected not to make the journey to Switzerland due to the looming shadow of Coronavirus.

On the ground, it's all systems go with social distancing and masking in place to keep riders safe. There may not be a championship at stake but the riders that are here, are here to win. Here's what to expect over the next few days of furious enduro action.

The Venue

Everywhere you look there it is.

You can't think of Zermatt without mentioning the Matterhorn. Its Toblerone topography has probably dominated your Instagram feed over the past few days and there's a reason for that, it looks stunning from the trails of the Visp region. It's also fitting as it serves as an explanation for the trails - sheer, rocky and pointy. These are high alpine brutes that come with all the switchbacks and rough, sharp rocks you'd expect. With the lengthy stages, big liaisons and altitude (Zermatt town sits at 1,600 metres and the trails all go upwards from there), it's going to be a true test and a rude awakening for the world's top enduro racers.

The Format

Anita Gehrig would take 5th on home soil

As in 2019, Zermatt will be done and dusted in one day but this year the number of stages has been cut from five to four. Don't be fooled into thinking this will be an easy day out for the riders though as they are still facing 14.5km of special stages with a total of 2,132m altitude loss. On top of that, they'll have 18.47km of pedalled transfers that will earn them 857 metres of that altitude.

The Stages

Stage 1 - Lake Link
Distance: 3.16 km
Altitude Loss: 410m
Stage 2 - After Work
Distance: 4.65km
Altitude Loss: 624m

Stage 3 - Glacier Garden
Distance: 2.11km
Altitude Loss: 317m
Stage 4 - Rock 'N' Roll (Extended)
Distance: 4.63km
Altitude Loss: 841m

The Weather

Katy Winton has had a rough go of this season but is looking to wrap things up inside the top ten if she can. Katy will be wanting to come back charging next year.
Friday, August 28
Times of clouds and sun with a couple of showers and a thunderstorm // 13°C // 61% probability of precipitation // wind 7km/h

Saturday, August 29
Chilly with rain // 9°C // 81% probablility of precipitation // wind 7km/h

Sunday, August 30 - Finals
Cold with rain, heavy at times // 7°C // 80% probablilty of precipitation // wind 9km/h

Weather forecast as of Thursday, August 27.

Start List

Pinkbike Predictions


Martin Maes

Martin Maes under the Matterhorn on stage 4

The winner last time out, Martin Maes will be the man to beat again in 2020. Maes won three of the five stages on offer last year and finished second to the absent-this-year Sam Hill in one of the others. The Belgian rider has only ever won EWS races in the latter half of the season (excluding the trio that were stripped at the start of last year) and the milder weather and wet conditions will probably suit him better than his southern European competitors.

Damien Oton - Enduro's Mr Consistent returns from a season riddled by injury last year to reclaim his place at the top of the sport. Oton's last EWS podium was in 2018 but he should be reinvigorated this year on his new team, Orbea. Oton also already has good form this year after winning the Maxi-Avalanche.

Adrien Dailly - Another rider that has shown good early season form is Adrien Dailly, who beat Loic Bruni at his own game at the Challenge Descente 06. Keep an eye out for Dailly to be as fast as ever this weekend.


Isabeau Courdurier

Isabeau Courdurier on roots and en route to winning stage 2

With Cecile Ravanel still not racing, it's hard to look past Isabeau Courdurier continuing her perfect streak in enduro racing. She was a level above the rest of the women's field last year and ended up winning by more than 30 seconds last time out in Switzerland.

Raphaela Richter - Raphaela Richter is my rider to watch this year. The former Under 21 EWS champion only entered two EWS races last year but she podiumed at both of them, including a 3rd place finish here in Zermatt.

Morgane Charre - Morgane Charre posted some seriously impressive results last year as a privateer, including 2nd in Rotorua to kick off the season. This year she's back with the support of the Pivot Factory Team behind her so she can spend less time worrying about wrenching for herself and more on riding even faster than last year.

Author Info:
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Member since Nov 14, 2018
1,770 articles

  • 46 0
 18.5km 850m of pedaling? That's a "true test and a rude awakening for the world's top enduro racers"? lol,I hope not.
  • 14 0
 They had me for a second with the 2100m of elevation... guess they get to take the lift for 1250m of it and only pedal 850m?
  • 15 7
 @swenzowski: yep... this is mini DH. In my definition of enduro you have to climb up, even easy trails are ok, but you have to pedal or even push man.
  • 8 2
 @fautquecaswing: Except it's not on DH trails.
Don't get me wrong, Zermatt is great place for alpine riding, the scenery is as beautiful as it gets, but (IMHO) it's not a great place for an enduro race
  • 22 4
 It's ridiculous that Enduro nowadays is basically lift served DH with trail bikes. Athletes should be pedaling at least 2/3 of the vertical drop.
  • 10 1
 @P-Munari: It's nothing to do with "nowadays". That's how the french Enduro Series has been done for 15 years or more.
  • 3 0
 @P-Munari: EWS Les 2 Alpes: Almost no pedalling, all lift accessed!
  • 11 0
 Will there be a love stream?
  • 1 0
  • 10 0
 @Gerlewis: a live love stream? They do EWS differently in your land. Sounds good.
  • 1 1
 Average 4.6% grade over 18.5km...that's not at all an easy climb on a 35 lbs bike, though it isn't all in one climb.
  • 2 0
 @P-Munari: don’t forget the pit stops between each run so they don’t have to carry any spares
  • 4 0
 @mnorris122: 4.6% is extremely easy grade to climb! That would make it a white climb (easier than green) by the offical Whistler trail standards, our local green rated climb is about 7%
  • 1 0
 @ali-chapple: It's an average grade. Presumably some parts are a lot steeper and some parts are a lot flatter.
  • 2 0
 That's what is supposed to be nice in enduro: a mix of good shape and technical skills. if you choose a too big biike you will suffer in climbing but maybe be faster going down, or you choose a lighter, smaller bike. With a lift up, you obtain huge 29 bikes with 170 forks. It is kind of ridiculous.
  • 19 0
 7 Celsius and heavy rain? That sounds like a long day!
  • 4 0
 And that has to be in the village, it might even snow at the top of some stages
  • 2 0
 Definitely going to be snowing at the top, the local observatory was under some light snow a day or 2 ago. Hopefully they don't have to cancel due to bad weather!
  • 1 0
 @Ploutre: had a trip planned bike packing around Zermatt and we had to call it off ....
  • 9 0
 No Kasper Woolley :-( That's a pity, was looking forward to seeing his pace away from BC to see if he could still compete with likes of Jessie. Lot's of Canadians on the start list so disappointing he hasn't/couldn't make the trip.
  • 8 1
 Wow, surprised at all the negative comments. I'm glad there's any racing at all. lots of arm chair racers criticising the stages etc. It'll be ridden at warp speed by these guys and gals and ALN has already got the scars to prove it's no give away. Let's get behind it instead of just dissing it.
  • 5 0
 Those course previews look like my Go Pro vidoes. Slow and rattly. Not sure I'd enjoy tryin to go fast on awkward hiking trails like these...
  • 5 0
 Agree on the video quality thing. But regarding the trails, the enduro format was born in tight natural hiking trails
  • 3 0
 I was a bit disappointed, the first two stages were flat out open single track and bike park normal.... then we get into stage 3, a lot more tech but quite short... and then stage 4, now that is a stage... riders are going to have to pace themselves, full gas is also going to bring its own problems, mechanicals could be an issue with all that rock.... Not complaining, great to see some racing back, even with reduced numbers...
  • 3 0
 Nigel page said it, no overall title no extra motivation to attend. I wish they did award the over all title, over all it does sucks that not every one can attend but is also not fair for does who do. Glad racing is back
  • 6 0
 You forgot to include "The Post Race Quarantine" section for the UK riders
  • 3 0
 Only if they come home and don’t just stay in the alps
  • 16 11
 Shouldn't be a world series if everyone can't be there!
  • 92 1
 I can't tell if this is a sarcastic joke about US baseball lol
  • 6 1
 @Dogl0rd: awesome comment
  • 4 1
 Then we should wipe out all EWS results since the start of the series. There is a long list of countries from which people would have found it extremely difficult to attend EWS races over the past 8 years
  • 6 1
 Gosh that first stage is boring as hell
  • 6 3
 EWS is a brand name a bit like the World Series of baseball, we're all aware you can't be a world champion at something if nobody else is taking part.
  • 4 0
 There won’t be a world champion this year.

On the other hand, sports history is full of examples where someone couldn’t “be there”, due to injury, politics, etc.
  • 5 0
 Yeah I think we will ride in snow at the top. Maybe the first snowy EWS ?
  • 3 1
 The Venue, The format, The stages, The Weather.... and... that.... The pandemic outbreak there.
  • 1 2
i am getting tired with all these marios, with big googles, clothes full of colour and brands, Distroying the trails because of incapability to ride a switchback / using the brake correctly.
ItS getting worse because now we see more Marias(without mustache) same dressed, same googles. NO RIDING STYLE
Nature trails are not made for those
  • 1 0
 Now that GMBN is the new EWS media partner, will the races be streamed via the GCN/GMBN Race Pass? or maybe next season?
  • 2 0
 2020 EWS Zermatt Shakedown
  • 9 3
 Well that will ruin it. Gmbn is fine for the under 12s but not the rest of us
  • 3 3
 @CM999: GMBN is alright after a few bevvies and assuming you don’t take yourself too seriously
  • 2 2
 I think they cover all bases. No I wouldn't watch every video they put out, but they have great mechanic videos for all abilities, some of the coaching ones I find useful, and occasionally there will be some real gems where they cover an event like the Andes Pacifico
  • 4 1
 @Molesdigmyjumps: I’d rather stick with ric and the way it’s been done for the last couple of years than let the gmbn children spoil it with their sponsor placement comments
  • 4 2
 Fire roads and flow trails? Frown
  • 3 0
 Stage 4 looks decent...
  • 3 1
 Isn’t there an ebike class this year with uphill stages ?
  • 1 0
 Some might be interested;
  • 2 0
 That race is today, Friday.
  • 1 1
 @Matt115lamb: woah I’m sure it’s fun to ride up there with pedal assist but pretty lame for viewing imo
  • 2 1
 @jimoxbox: same DH sections plus techy climbs , wot more do you want !
  • 2 1
 First minute of stage 1 of the first race of the season... and we're going uphill. Yay enduro...
  • 2 0
 Everything you need to know: covid has f*cked it all :,(
  • 5 6
 My 72yr old Dad who just started mountain biking could have ridden the Stage 1 course preview with more pizzazz. Oh, and he has a bell to warn the hikers. Ding!
  • 1 0
 The edges on those berms in stage 2 look like a pringle! Mmmm so crisp.
  • 1 0
 hell ya
  • 1 0
 SCRIBD > no racing
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