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.
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.
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.
Stage 1 - Lake Link
Distance: 3.16 km
Altitude Loss: 410m
Stage 2 - After Work
Altitude Loss: 624m
Stage 3 - Glacier Garden
Altitude Loss: 317m
Stage 4 - Rock 'N' Roll (Extended)
Altitude Loss: 841m
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.
Pinkbike PredictionsMenMartin MaesThe 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.WomenIsabeau CourdurierWith 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.