Its racing time! Under strict sanitary and security protocols of course due to the COVID19. The small, but known, village of Castejon de Sos in Aragon, Spain, is the epicenter of enduro for a weekend. Possibly one of the few (if not the only one) race to take place in the hard-hitting country by the virus. Till last week riders and teams from all over Spain were carefully following all the news from the organizers. Finally, the local health authorities gave green light to the event. But with heavy rules for all participants, avoiding as much public as possible, riders must follow strict social distancing as much as possible, temperatures will be taken daily before rider departure, masks are mandatory when not racing or training and anyone violating the rules will be automatically disqualified.
Castejon de Sos, located in the heart of the Pyrenees, not far from the known Ainsa village, where the EWS has taken place twice, has some outstanding trails. Some prefer this area over other close by riding regions as the trails are long, more natural, technical and rough. Names like Integra del Gallinero, Planadona, Magic Line or Rabaltueras make every rider drool non stop. The race route is not an easy one, as expected for a national championship. With 39km and almost 2000m of climbing the weekend will be a long one for many riders.
Thankfully organizers decided to allow the riders to do 3 days of training and Saturday is only mandatory to get to one control point at the start of stages 2 and 3, to try to make things equal to every rider. On Sunday a grueling 17km +1100m climb awaits to get to the start of stage 1, Integral del Gallinero, a known trail from previous races and events. The terrain is dry and loose, as usual in summer. For southern riders, from Andalucia, Valencia and other Mediterranean regions are the perfect conditions. But riders from more rainy areas will be happy if there is some rain. But they seem out of luck, weather expectations are sunny and hot, reaching near 28 Celcius and not too windy.
The battle for the championship will be a hard one, with some big names in the field. In the womens category, Marketa Michalkova will be the one to beat so and there will be some names to watch in the field, Elisabeth Guillem, Elena Perez, Sandra Jorda and others. The current M40 women champ, Nila Veneroso, will need to push hard to avoid the local Maria Monzon and Alejanda Pastor to get away with the title.
In the mens categories, Gabriel Torralba (Aragon) is the defending elite champ and certainly other riders will not make things easy for him. The Canarian Edgar Carballo, although EWS team partner, will defend his Canary Islands flag and push for the overall. In U23 category Carlos Von Hayden is the current champ but Mateu Tur Costa and Nacho Valverde will for sure make things harder for him. Alvaro Garcia (Andalucia) is the current M30 champ and there will be a fierce but friendly battle from his close friend Alejandro Spa (Andalucia) and Ivan Runza.
Temperature, social distancing and other protocols are a must under this COVID19 times
Girls wanna have fun
All the way from Granada, Alvaro Garcia and Alex Spa are big contenders for the M30 podium
Its a long way to the top