The EWS is now at yet another brand new venue, less than one week after racing finished up at the Loudenvielle double-header. Now, riders have crossed the border to Crans-Montana, where they'll race on high alpine slopes of Switzerland's Valais region.
Also this week, we saw the beginning of the EWS-E series
, which took riders on three long loops totaling nine stages and more than 60 km of racing. In the men's race, Nico Vouilloz dominated over his teammates Kevin Marry and Antoine Rogge for a Lapierre Overvolt Team sweep of a very French podium. In the women's field, Laura Charles and Tracy Moseley swapped leads all day until the French up-and-comer eventually came out on top.
This week's EWS race will be the first EWS stop that's not a double-header after six rounds in three different Italian and French locations. At all the previous rounds, we've seen an intense battle between Richie Rude and Jack Moir, both riders taking turns leading and even giving us the closest race in EWS history. Moir currently sits just 140 points ahead of Rude in the overall. We've also seen some exciting racing in the women's field, with Hattie Harnden taking her first two EWS wins, Melanie Pugin once again having an incredibly strong season and leading the overall, Morgane Charre and Noga Korem nipping at their heels as two riders who could take the win at any race, and Isabeau Courdurier taking two wins despite having a tough season.
Let's take a look at what to expect from the racing this weekend.
Crans-Montana was the setting for Emilie Siegenthaler's and Morgane Charre's video 'Devotion' that came out earlier this year.
The Crans-Montana trails start up at about 2,254m / 7,395 ft, then drop down through the Crans-Montana bike park and surrounding trails. The race is laid out around a few small villages in the Crans-Montana municipality, and four out of five stages take place within the bike park.
While the EWS has never visited Crans-Montana before, several big races have taken place at the bike park, including an iXS Swiss Downhill Cup race back in 2005. The region is also slated to host the 2025 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, with the cross country races taking place at Crans-Montana and the other races happening at seven other venues in the area.
Unlike all the other EWS races so far this season, the Crans-Montana EWS race is a standalone event, though of course the EWS-E, EWS100, and EWS80 will also take place this week. Like the other stops, the race will have a single pro stage the first day before a full-day event the second day that will include a repeat of the pro stage.
Practice for Sunday's four stages will take place all day Friday, largely accessed by the bike park lift.
The StagesSALADE VERT:
1.81km / 333m descent - Pro Stage, Prologue
Salade Vert appears to be a fresh-cut, unmapped trail that overlaps with the end of Stage 4. The stage starts at the bottom of one of the bike park's most heavily trafficked trails, Mt. Lachaux (or simply Red Track) and drops off to the left into the trees, below the bottom of the bike park.KALTSTART:
3.06km / 396m descent - Stage 1
Kaltstart takes riders from the top of the lift through the upper section of Chetseron, the bike park's so-called Black Track, a two-kilometer less ridden section of trail, before turning onto an unnamed, raw section that skirts around the edges of the woods. The stage ends at a two-track road that parallels Stage 2, which riders will climb to access Stage 2.FRENCH EXIT:
2.87km / 543m descent - Stage 2
Stage 2 begins on Chetseron where Stage 1 left off, down a track that was used for an iXS Swiss Downhill Cup race back in 2005 but has seen some trail updates since then. After the downhill track, the stage finishes on a short series of easy trails and roads down to town.SHAPERS SECRET:
2.18km / 530m descent - Stage 3, Queen Stage
After a rolling, fairly short transfer, riders will arrive at Stage 3, the Queen Stage, which will earn the winners extra points (and bragging rights). The upper section of Shapers Secret seems to have been illegally built but is apparently fair game now, which probably means it's a great trail. The lower section also looks rowdy and may be another fresh-cut section for this race.L'AMOUR TOXIQUE:
4.10km / 758m descent - Stage 4
After Stage 3, riders will pedal their longest transfer of the race from the bottom of Stage 3 back up to the bike park. As a final reprieve, they'll take the lift up to the longest stage of the race, Mt. Lachaux / Red Track. The bottom of Mt. Lachaux will drop them into a repeat of the Pro Stage, finishing down in town.
Once again, there's a chance of rain in the forecast, but it looks less torrential than last week's weather at Loudenvielle, which caused course changes and some brutal crashes. As of right now, it looks like the afternoons will bring some thundershowers, so here's to hoping the lift can run.Friday, September 10
- PracticeMostly cloudy with a couple of showers and a thunderstorm // 13°C // 62% probability of precipitation // wind 7km/h Saturday, September 11
- Prologue Practice & RacePeriods of clouds and sunshine with a thundershower // 16°C // 51% probability of precipitation // wind 9km/h Sunday, September 12
- RaceIntervals of clouds and sunshine with a thundershower // 20°C // 54% probability of precipitation // wind 4km/h
Weather forecast as of Thursday, September 9 from Accuweather
What Happened Last Round?
The last two rounds were more back and forth battles between Richie Rude and Jack Moir, with Moir coming out ahead at the end of each race. On the women's side, Hattie Harnden took her second consecutive EWS victory, backing up her first win in La Thuile at the previous round. The next race, Isabeau Courdurier came up from fourth place to take the win in an extremely tight race, with the top six women within 30 seconds.Race 1:
1st. Harriet Harnden: 30:41.84
2nd. Melanie Pugin: 30:53.40
3rd. Noga Korem: 30:54.04
4th. Isabeau Courdurier: 30:58.22
5th. Katy Winton: 31:49.40
1st. Jack Moir: 26:40.45
2nd. Richie Rude: 26:52.53
3rd. Kevin Miquel: 27:03.49
4th. Martin Maes: 27:07.50
5th. Theo Galy: 27:08.34
1st. Isabeau Courdurier: 39:17.65
2nd. Morgane Charre: 39:28.05
3rd. Melanie Pugin: 39:35.74
4th. Noga Korem: 39:37.84
5th. Ella Conolly: 39:38.71
1st. Jack Moir: 33:59.90
2nd. Richie Rude: 34:12.64
3rd. Kevin Miquel: 34:32.24
4th. Kasper Woolley: 34:48.51
5th. Matt Walker: 34:50.53
It's splitting hairs to try to guess whether Richie Rude or Jack Moir will be faster, though Moir has come out on top more times than Rude has this season. I'm picking Moir for the win again, but fully expect Rude to put up a fight and take his fair share of stage wins, too. Third on the podium, Jesse Melamed has been having a fantastic season. Loudenvielle wasn't a great stop for Melamed, as he had a mechnical in the second race, but he'll likely come back swinging.
Hattie Harnden has been on fire lately, and with two wins at the last three races, it would be hard to bet against her. She seems to learn something and progress even more each race. Next up, it would be great to see Isabeau Courdurier stay at the top. She's having a tough season and has said she doesn't feel quite in her groove, but has more than shown us that she's not to be ruled out. Rounding out the podium, I'll pick Melanie Pugin. Pugin has not been outside of the top three once this season, which is incredible. She's clearly the most consistently fast rider in the women's field right now.
1 // Jack MOIR
2 // Richie RUDE
3 // Jesse MELAMED
1 // Hattie HARNDEN
2 // Isabeau COURDURIER
3 // Melanie PUGIN
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