Racing in the Rainforest
The season kicked off last weekend in Lo Barnechea, Chile, in a similar fashion to how it finished in Finale Ligure last year, with 2017 overall winners Sam Hill and Cecile Ravanel reigning supreme. Martin Maes and Isabeau Cordurier both finished second at the last stop of the EWS in Finale Ligure, and reclaimed that position in Lo Barnechea. We saw hints of greatness from other riders such as Robin Wallner who finished third behind Maes, Jesse Melamed who crashed and flatted and still finished fifth, and Bex Baraona who finished fourth. Sam Hill won by a solid margin in Chile, but Richie Rude bested him in two stages on day one. Could this next stop in Colombia finally mark the end of the winning drought for the 2015 and 2016 EWS overall champion? After coming second overall last year, you can bet that Adrien Dailly spent the off-season dreaming of the overall this year, but 2018 may not be his, after a DNF in the first round.
For the second round, the racing stays in South America, and heads to another new venue in Manizales, Colombia, where the loose open trails of Chile will be replaced with pine forests, lush rainforests and coffee plantations. There's rain in the forecast for this weekend, and black soil is said to be very slippery when wet...
Sam Hill and Cecile Ravanel with expressions of relief at defending the number 1 on their backs after a long off-season. Photo: Dave Trumpore
There's never been an EWS in Manizales, Colombia, but here's what we know so far:
There will be a total of eight stages, including an urban downhill prologue on Saturday. Stages will range from two minutes to approximately four minutes for the longest. Riders will travel over 40 km total.
The first Stage is an urban stage using the famous Urban DH course in Manizales – featuring long steps sections, plus some wood jumps and a lot of pedaling. We're guessing it will be something like this:
Manizales is located at 2119 m (6952 ft) above sea level, in the heart of the Andes Mountains. The tracks have black soil and perfect grip when dry or slightly moist, but they are very slippery when wet.
Most stages are hand-cut trails in a Eucalyptus and pine tree cultivation. Courses feature a combination of some existing ‘DH’ tracks with some brand new tracks for the event.
The stages are singletrack mostly, with few wide-open sections.
Stages will be closed for riding until training on March 30-31. Dave Trumpore and Matt DeLorme will be on site to get photos of this brand new venue.
What happened last weekend?
The Lo Barnechea Montenbaik Enduro offered up one of the most explosive rounds to date, as two days of racing in the high Andes turned into a war of attrition, with riders battling to keep bike and body together on the infamous Chilean "anti-grip."
Dave Trumpore and Matt DeLorme were there to capture all the action from Practice
, Day One
, and Day Two
Current Overall Standings
Elite Women - Points
1. Cecile Ravanel - 400
2. Isabeau Courdurier - 350
3. Katy Winton- 320
4. Bex Baraona - 300
5. Carolin Gehrig - 290
6. Flow Espineira - 280
7. Noga Korem - 270
8. Rae Morrison - 260
9. Ine Thoma - 250
10. Becky Cook - 240
Elite Men - Points
1. Sam Hill - 500
2. Martin Maes - 450
3. Robin Wallner - 420
4. Gustav Wildhaber - 400
5. Jesse Melamed - 390
6. Zakarias Blom Johansen - 380
7. Josh Carlson - 370
8. Marco Osborne - 360
9. Dimitri Tordo - 350
10. Shawn Neer - 340
Team Rankings - Points
1. GT Factory Racing - 990
1. Cube Action Team - 990
3. Ibis Cycles Enduro Race Team - 950
4. Canyon Factory Enduro Team - 920
5. Yeti / Fox Off-Road Team - 760
Full details on how points are awarded can be found in the EWS Rule Book
Matt Wragg's Predictions
deserved reputation as one of the fittest guys on the World Cup circuit. Aside from the logic, you'd have to be pretty bitter not to be rooting for him on what may be a one-time chance in his racing career - after all, how often does world-class racing come to Colombia? Let alone Manizales...So with the top step out of the way, the battle for the final two steps of the podium should be spectacular. With Sam Hill looking in even better form than last year, Richie Rude finding form, Martin Maes looking like he can cut out the mistakes, and Adrien Dailly looking as fast as ever, how do you call it? Plus all the riders looking to bounce back from a tough weekend in Chile - I stand by the seven men I predicted to be at the front this year as the frontrunners, although, after his result in Chile, Robin Wallner is starting to look like he should be the eighth man in that group. I am also excited to see what Gusti Wildhaber can do with the confidence from his fourth place finish after five years of fairly average results. Physically, the man is a monster and he's certainly not scared of laying it all on the line. What I don't know, is what he's capable of if he really starts to believe that he should be at the front of these races. His training buddy, Nino Schurter, probably has a pretty good idea though. Going by stage results from Barnechea, I think Hill and Rude have the edge on the rest of the field, but how do you separate the pair? In the end, I have had to resort to the tried and trusted scientific technique of flipping a coin: Rude second, Hill third. When I wrote last week that Richie Rude is my favourite anywhere and everywhere this year, what I meant to say is that he is my favourite everywhere, except Colombia. Season form goes out of the window this week as there is a spoiler in play. Manizales is, in a very literal sense, Marcelo Guttierez's backyard, it's his hometown and these are his hometrails. In a race composed of an urban DH followed by seven stages that are all less than 2.5 km long, it seems tailor-made to play to his strengths. There are no questions of his speed, he is an experienced urban racer and he has a well-
Pinkbike's EWS Predictionator.
Before we get into my predictions for the top three in the women's race this week, I would just like to take a moment to consider Bex Baraona's result last weekend. Now that she's receiving full factory support from Ibis, she's made the jump from the back half to the front half of the top ten over the winter - a testament to what is possible if teams are willing to step up and support more women. I think the podium is probably a step too far just yet, but I don't think it will be for long if she keeps progressing at her current rate. As for this week? I think we will see riders holding formation from Chile, with Cecile Ravanel on the top step, Isabeau Courdurier in second and Katy Winton in third. Ravanel is clearly still a class apart, and Chile shows how much it would hurt the series if she were to step away this year. Courdurier is still the closest to Ravanel and Winton looks to have upped her game to emerge with a firm grasp on the podium this year.
1. Cecile Ravanel
2. Isabeau Courdurier
3. Katy Winton
1. Marcelo Guttierez
2. Richie Rude
3. Sam Hill
Think you know who is going to finish in the top three? Enter to win the EWS Fantasy Contest sponsored by Enve
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How to Watch
Still hacking the dust out of their lungs from the Enduro World Series in Chile, Pinkbike's hardworking team will be providing you with the best daily coverage from Manizales, Colombia this weekend. There will be the usual stunning photo epics from practice on Friday, the prologue on Saturday, and a full day of racing on Sunday, as well as tech reports throughout the weekend. View the full rundown of the racing schedule
On Saturday afternoon and Sunday all day, you can follow the Live Timing on the Enduro World Series website
and Pinkbike will upload the highlight video following the event.