Pinkbike Primer - Everything You Need to Know Ahead of EWS Zermatt

Sep 18, 2019
by James Smurthwaite  

Julia Hofmann riding in Zermatt Switzerland. Photo Mattias Fredriksson.
EWS ROUND 8 - Zermatt, Switzerland

Photo: Mattias Fredriksson/Big Mountain

Round Seven, Grand Finale
A new venue for the series showdown.

In a break from the usual tradition, the racing of this year's EWS will not finish on the beaches of Finale but in the high Swiss Alps in Zermatt. In the shadow of the Matterhorn, Zermatt should still provide a fitting end to the series as it's trail network is considered one of the hidden gems of European mountain biking.

Zermatt is a brand new venue so will be a level playing field in the battle royale between Sam Hill and Florian Nicolai that has been building to a climax all season. It's been 2 months since the EWS racers last came to a high Alpine venue so getting into the swing of riding long, exposed stages with loose rocky switchbacks will be key. With overall positions on the line, being on your game from Stage 1 will be key.

Let's get into all the details for the weekend ahead:

Photo: Enduro World Series

The Course

Zermatt takes us back to a 1-day format with all 5 stages happening on Saturday. The stages make up 18km of riding with a total of 2,875m descending. On top of that there will be a further 28.4km of transfer riding with lifts making up the final 8km of the day.

STAGE 1: Lake Link - 3.73km, 473m descent
Loose rocks, fast, physical, switchbacks.

STAGE 2: Rock 'n' Roll - 3.16km, 527m descent
Roots, rocks, forest, tight.

STAGE 3: Smuggler's Run - 3.48 km, 499m descent
Rock slabs, open, loose rock.

STAGE 4: The Big Spoon - 3.03km, 599m descent
Switchbacks, Alpine, narrow.

STAGE 5: Overtime - 4.60km, 766m descent
Queen Stage. Alpine, forest, fast, flow.

What Happened at the Last Round

Richie Rude and Isabeau Courdurier both crushed the dust in Northstar to complete a repeat of their domination in Whistler just a fortnight before. For Isabeau this was another underline on her stunning 2019 season, she stormed to another victory but was beaten on the Queen stage and dropped points for the first time all year. For Rude it was his third win of the year and moved him into the top ten in the EWS overall despite missing the first 3 round of the year.

Behind Riche was another story to follow though as Sam Hill chased down his third consecutive overall title. A second place for him and an unlucky 13th for Florian Nicolai means the Frenchman's lead is now cut to just 60 points with one round to go.

Pro Men

1st. Richie Rude: 26:09.65
2nd. Sam Hill: 26:10.46
3rd. Mitch Ropelato: 26:30.21
4th. Martin Maes: 26:39.35
5th. Jesse Melamed: 26:56.08

Pro Women

1st. Isabeau Courdurier: 30:37.62
2nd. Noga Korem: 30:56.89
3rd. Andréane Lanthier Nadeau: 31:05.85
4th. Ines Thoma: 31:47.26
5th. Katy Winton: 32:05.63

See the full results here.

Isabeau Courdurier takes yet another win in what has been a perfect season.

The Standings

With Isabeau's title wrapped up, all the focus will be on the battle between Sam Hill and Florian Nicolai this weekend. Nicolai has a 60 point advantage but has faltered with some stuttering late-season form while Hill has finished second at three of the last four races. It could all come down to the last stage of the series, which will be a Queen Stage, with a bonus 40 points being awarded to the winner.

1st // Florian Nicolai // FRA // 2800
2nd // Sam Hill // AUS // 2740
3rd // Kevin Miquel // FRA // 2470
4th // Edward Masters // NZL // 2380
5th // Adrien Dailly // FRA // 2373
6th // Dimitri Tordo // FRA // 2345
7th // Remi Gauvin // CAN // 2295
8th // Richie Rude // USA // 2110
9th // Robin Wallner // SWE // 2065
10th // Matt Walker // NZL // 2031

1st // Isabeau Courdurier // FRA // 3740
2nd // Noga Korem // ISR // 2885
3rd // Andreane Lanthier Nadeau // CAN // 2180
4th // Morgane Charre // FRA // 2075
5th // Ines Thoma // GER // 1510
6th // Anita Gehrig // SUI // 1415
7th // Becky Cook // GBR // 1375
8th // Miranda Miller // CAN // 1285
9th // Bex Baraona // GBR // 1250
10th // Rae Morrison // NZL // 1180

Weather Forecast

Cool but dry conditions are expected in the high mountains all week.

Photo: Enduro World Series

Wednesday, September 18 - Shakedown Day
Clouds and sunshine, a shower or thunderstorm in the afternoon // 14°C // 55% precipitation // wind 7km/h

Friday, September 20 - Practice - all stages
Intervals of clouds and sun // 15°C // 8% precipitation // wind 7km/h

Saturday, September 21 - Race Day - all stages
Sunshine and patchy clouds // 14°C // 13% precipitation // wind 7km/h

Weather forecast from Accuweather as of September 17.

The Schedule

Wednesday, September 18
• 10:30-13:00 Shakedown Day

Friday, September 20
• 09:45-17:45 Training - Stages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Saturday, September 21
• 07:30-18:00 Race - Stages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Note: All times are local and subject to change by the event organizer.

Follow Along

Pinkbike will be providing you with the best daily coverage from our team in Switzerland this week. Tune in to Pinkbike to catch photo epics, videos and results from practice and race day, as well as tech bits and news.

Following the Enduro World Series live can be a struggle with remote stages and hundreds of riders tackling trails at the same time. We're lucky to have Polygon rider Dan Wolfe bringing you behind the scenes action from each round LIVE through the Pinkbike Instagram stories this year. Find what's going down on course during training and race day through our Instagram. Be sure to follow @pinkbike to keep up with the action.

Pinkbike Predictions

Sam Hill was so close to his first win but would have to settle for second by .8 of a second.

bigquotesIsabeau Courdurier has her title sewn up so she will now be able to go all out for the win and complete her perfect season. Given the level of riding she has been able to maintain on all continents, in all conditions and at all times this year, it would be stupid to bet against her achieving it. Noga Korem has finished 2nd at 3 of the last 5 rounds and could make it 4 from 6 in Zermatt as she starts to pull away from the rest of the chasing women's pack in the overall. Back in the high mountains of her home country, Anita Gehrig could well pull a surprise out of the bag and find herself back on the podium this year.

In the men's race, Rude seems simply unstoppable at the moment. With a brace of victories in North America, we reckon he'll make it a triple in Zermatt and set himeself up as the favourite for the title next year. Behind him, Sam Hill will have the motivation of chasing down a third title and has to beat Florian Nicolai by 60 points to do so. Nicolai has faded as the season has gone on with a 9th and a 13th at the past two rounds but back in the familiar high mountains, he won't be giving up the overall without a fight. Maes came back strong with a 4th in Northstar, expect him to do well again here in Zermatt.

1 // Richie RUDE
2 // Sam HILL
3 // Martin MAES
1 // Isabeau COURDURIER
2 // Noga KOREM
3 // Anita GEHRIG

Fantasy League

Don't forget to complete your EWS Fantasy team before the race starts on Saturday. If you don't know who to pick, check the Start List . There are prizes for each round, so if you haven't already, make sure to build your team today! If you've already got a team in the mix you're in the running to win the Grand Prize, so visit the Fantasy homepage to make sure you have the fastest team possible for Round 6.

The Fantasy Enduro League is Presented by Shimano.

MENTIONS: @shimano

Regions in Article


  • 22 0
 Poor Richie, knowing the history of Pinkbike predictions he will never win this round.
  • 18 0
 Where's the Matterhorn? You can't possibly post an article about Zermatt with no bloody photo of the Horn. I'm officially offended.
  • 2 2
 Yeah but still, 29 miles of riding with over 9,100ft. of descent! That is absurd and along with the views, the horn wont make a difference. This is going to be epic.
  • 1 0
 Haha, indeed. Especially as EVERYTHING in Zermatt is being sold, using the Matterhorn.
  • 7 1
 Has anyone run the numbers to see what it'll take for Sam to take the overall? 3 in a row would be indelible.
  • 5 0
 Queen stage makes things hard to predict... If he wins the race and the queen stage he wins the title.
  • 1 0
 Point per position are on page 37:

Winning the Queen Stage gets you 40 extra points.

There are lots of possible combinations for Sam to win. If he wins the Queen Stage he only needs an extra 21 points to win.
  • 1 0
 1st place is rewarded with 500 points. So if Sam wins and Florian takes 3rd place, Hill would win, but there is the Queen stage which is worth 40 points. So, as others said, there are a lot of possible combinations. 1st 500 points 2nd 450 points 3rd 420 points 4th 400 points 5th 390 points 6th 380 points 7th 370 points 8th 360 points 9th 350 points 10th 340 points ...
  • 4 0
 @dirtnapped read this article:

It has numbers on what it'll take for Sam to win.
  • 3 0
 I've been to Zermatt once, it was the end of Chamonix-Zermatt crossing. Incredible place, and the descent from the Gornergrat to the village is easily in my top3 memories. Technical, steep, not too exposed and stunning views. I'm sure it will be a fitting backdrop for the last EWS of the year.
  • 2 0
 Lower kelle is a good trail. Steep in places and rocky enough that it takes skill to go fast. Some of the blues and greens don’t seem like they will be much of a challenge to the pros, especially for a queen stage. Amazing place to ride though. Will be cool to see some of the presides.
  • 5 0
 All I need to know is Sam Hill better win the overall.
  • 3 0
 Yup. King of the Hill!
  • 2 0
 Friday, September 20 - Practice - all stages.

So is it all riders striking and sitting out this day for climate change, or just Specialized?
  • 5 3
 Never seen so many green and blue trails on a race course for the best riders in the world.
  • 2 1
 I was thinking that. Green and blue fir a world class race!!!
  • 5 0
 Hey, it's kind of my fault on that one. I didn't had time - yet - to add every trails in the Zermatt area. So the blue and the green trails you see are mostly liaisons on those EWS stages.
I'll add the rest very soon. Wink
  • 1 0
 @inversedotch: Are the unlisted trails black/double black? Stage 2 is all blue. The bottom 3 km of the Queen Stage shows up as 1.8 km green and 1.2 km blue. Are the green/blue designations correct? Would hope this would be a challenging course for a title decider.
  • 8 0
 @BigAlfonz: everything's hard at their speed
  • 5 0
 @BigAlfonz: I added all the stage trails now (except for some of the liaisons). Don't be fooled by the blue on the Stage 2. It's blue for Zermatt but some parts are clearly black or deep black, especially at race pace. The bottom of the Queen Stage is raced along the Kate Moos family-friendly flowtrail (the green one). But if you look closely at the gps, there are quite a lot of alternative segments added.
Don't be too fooled by the colors, this round will be rocky, steep and grueling. Wink
  • 2 0
 @inversedotch: don't be sorry. I think it is great that we do not label everything as double black here just to look gnarlier than the neighbours.
@konarider112: don't be fooled by these colors. All these trails are difficult, maybe except the very last flow trail.
  • 2 0
 @inversedotch: I wish I had known about some of those trails when I visited over the summer. Great riding and very different from both Whistler and N*.
  • 2 0
 @EuroinSF: You have to check Trailforks more often, a lot of trails are added constantly. I started to add lesser known areas in Valais but now i wish i started with Zermatt sooner as i didn't realize it was kind of hard to get good trail infos for the Zermatt and Mattertal area. For your next trip everything will be on Trailforks! Wink
  • 1 0
 @powpowpow: I agree, trail difficulty should be directly related to the ride area. Some of the trails i added in Zermatt might not have the "right" difficulty rating as it is more a personal rating than anything. But hey, that's why there is a difficulty rating option on Trailforks!
  • 3 0
 Blues in the Alps are not blues in the states. Every blue trail I've ridden out there was a solid black anywhere else. Everything is rated one lower than in the US.
  • 2 3
 Crazy that Rude can be in 8th after being out so long and Maes out a much shorter time and he's not in the top 10 standings...? Bummer
  • 3 0
 Probably because maes was stripped of his wins
  • 1 0
 @leomax89: I don't think so, it was just a 90 day suspension.
  • 2 3
 Look out Zermatt, Richie Rude chops mountains down with the edge of his hand!
  • 2 0
 Really? Can you confirm he`s chuck norris secret son?

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