Åre kick-started the 2021 Swedish national enduro series, incorporating the event into the now legendary Åre Bike Festival. Åre is located in the middle of Sweden not too far from the Norwegian border, as a result, it’s no surprise to get all four seasons in one day despite being July. For a notoriously flat country, Åre offers up some significant elevation and spectacular views to boot!
The day started off with high temperatures which made the climb to the start of stage one all that more punishing, thankfully the facilities at Åre are extensive which mean riders could pack light and leave the camelbacks at home. Riders taking it as easy as possible on the climbs and doing their best to conserve energy before dropping in, plenty of breathtaking scenery to take in before racing started!
With rain the previous day followed by warm and dry, the conditions were prime for some fast lap times. All the stages offered plenty of grip meaning riders could push through the corners and exploit a variety of lines. That said, the lead riders stuck to the rough mainline on stage one exploiting a straight route through giving them more speed for the lower sections.
Mind the tree!
Race favourite Philip Fagerberg fresh back from a recent 9th place in the EWS, his form certainly hadn't faded on race day despite a heavy racing and travelling schedule.
Adam Larsson rode an exceptional clean race and managed to avoid being held up by crashes on the course, as a result, he would take the top step of the podium later in the day.
Åre is probably most famous for the trail Shimano, many a party lap and free ride edit showing off this element of the bike park which was included in today's stage. However, Åre has an extensive array of very technical and rocky trails throughout the bike park. Paired up with nearly 2000m of climbing, it was set to be a tough race from the outset!
Race winner Adam Larsson managed to drop in just ahead of the major crashes leaving him with a clear path off the top of Åreskutan on stage 2 to the finish and top step of the podium.
Race favourite Philip Fagerberg was held up behind a crash on Stage 2 which cost him significantly while the course was cleared ahead of him.
Two significant crashes created significant delays, particularly for the women’s race from stage 2 onwards. Some riders managed to get through before the stage was temporarily closed, the rest along with all the other categories remained stuck on Åreskutan for over 1 hour. Ingun Ståhl was one of a few women to pass the crash before the women race was paused.
Unfortunately, the delay to the Women's race made getting comprehensive coverage not really possible due to the geography of Åreskutan, apologies for the lack of coverage but I did my best given the situation.
Once the racing resumed the pressure was on, tired riders were soon to be faced with another curveball. The weather suddenly changed, a large thunderstorm rolled in through the valley which meant the lifts were temporarily closed for stage 5.
Vincent Danielsson comes in hot to the finish of stage 4.
Riders were left waiting while the organisers made the decision, it wasn't long before the weather went from bad to worse!
Thunder and rain rolled into the valley and eventually surrounded the mountain, the organisers cancelled stage 5 for the safety of the riders as it wasn't possible to run the uplift given the conditions.
Podium for the women's race saw Josefine Björkman take 3rd, Ingun Ståhl takes 2nd and the race winner was Fillipa Ring taking home the prize money.
The mens podium saw Philip Fagerberg take 3rd, Tim Hammer 2nd and Adam Larsson take the win and the cash!
Race report and photography by Christopher Lanaway
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For anyone wondering, I did not hit that tree..