For the final Enduro World Series race of the season, it’s back to one of the UK’s most famous venues, the Tweed Valley in Scotland. After a six year hiatus, the series returns to the hallowed trails of Innerleithen and the surrounding hills to crown the series champions. It’s a fitting location for a fair fight and level playing field with trails most riders have never seen prior and conditions unique to any previous round raced. Who the tight trees, slippery mud, rocks and roots favor is anyone's guess.
The Women's title fight may be a pretty sure thing at the front with Melanie Pugin miles ahead, but the battle behind between Isabeau Courdurier, Harriet Harnden Noga Korem and Morgane Charre for the final podium spots is as tight as can be. While in the men's, it's a nail bitter with Jack Moir and Richie Rude trading blows all season, going 1,2 in just about every stage and every race. Jack has a 70 point lead that affords him a buffer, but no margin for error. Just behind the two leaders an equally tight race for third between Jesse Melamed and Kevin Miquel is brewing.
The stages in Scotland are a mix of flat out and fast combined with technical, steep and slow. The heavy rains each day leading up to the event have thickened the mud in the woods to add another element of physicality to the equation. Strength to muscle through will be paramount as well as being able to keep it pinned but smooth to carry maximum speed. Unlike other venues where a mistake means going off line and getting right back into groove, the narrow trails in the Scottish forest mean mistakes are costly, often resulting in a full stop against a tree. The trails flow at pace, but are incredibly difficult a slow speeds, so getting started again after a crash can be a nightmare. Considering the stakes at hand and how tight racing has been all season, the slightest error could be the difference between standing on the podium or watching from the crowd.
Racing gets underway with the Pro Stage on Saturday in what is forecast to be pouring rain, followed by an additional 5 stages on Sunday. It will be wet, it will be wild, and it will be a battle to the end for the championship.