Sam Hill returned to the podium for Team CRC Mavic at the fourth round of the 2019 Enduro World Series in Val Di Fassa, Italy, over the weekend with a fantastic ride finishing second place at the end of a really tough race.
Elliott Heap and Kelan Grant both showed decent form on tough trails and have plenty more to give for the upcoming rounds of the EWS.
Team Manager Nigel Page was there as ever to bring us this report:
Round four of the Enduro World Series took us to the beautiful Val Di Fassa in the Dolomites. The views of the mountains in the area are unbelievable, what a place!
This race was a one-day event but a tough one at that with five very challenging stages with two really long stages one and five which was the Queens Stage offering extra points for the winner.
As well as the super technical, physical and long stages we were racing at altitude and it was pretty hot at the mid-30s!
Kelan Grant coming off a big win beating his big rival Greg Callaghan the previous week at the Irish National Champs was keen to improve his EWS ranking and had another pretty good race.
Kelan found it tough like everyone else to push hard on such long tracks that we are not used to and managed 41st, 32nd, 40th, 35th and 49th on the stages to finish 42nd overall. Not quite the top-30 he is aiming for but again not far off. It will happen soon enough Kelan, good work mate.
Elliott Heap giving the 29er front end on his Mega 275C a go for the first time in EWS racing managed a 43rd, 40th, 14th, 41st and 43rd on the big final stage giving him a final ranking of 34th.
Elliott showed he has the pace again to run with the top seeds with his 14th place finish on stage three. As soon as he figures out that consistency he will be up with the fastest riders in the world. Well done fella.
Sam Hill was finally coming into the race with some decent fitness that he lost at the first two rounds being sick. Sam said he was the finest and strongest he has ever felt coming into the season, so was devastated with getting sick and how the first two races of the season went for him.
There was some big drama coming into this race with the return of Richie Rude following a suspension and the suspension of Martin Maes – you can read more about that on Pinkbike's own articles...
Richie Rude who is always a contender was back in the race and the battle for the overall EWS ranking was blown wide open. Sam moved from sixth place to fifth in the overall rankings and was pretty determined to get a good result and return to the very sharp end of racing.
Sam was true to his word and came out swinging on his prototype Nukeproof Mega 290 coming second on the first big brutal stage one, 8th on the shorter tricky and hard to carry speed stage two, a win on stage three, third on stage four and second place on the big Queens stage five to finish second in the overall for the race. Just 18 seconds behind Richie Rude and seven seconds in front of an in-form and new series leader Florian Nicolai.
This result catapults Sam into second place in the EWS overall rankings with five rounds to go!
Great riding Sam as ever you are the man and we are all in awe of what you can do on a bicycle. He is the ultimate rider, racer and champion!
I had a go at racing in the Masters category but had nowhere near the fitness or bike time I needed to compete in a very stacked field.
I had an amazing time riding my bike on these awesome trails but I just couldn’t ride the way I wanted and finished a very disappointing 11th place. You definitely have to put the training and work in to do these World Enduro races (as you should).
Thanks to all the team again for an amazing week of great banter and professionalism when it counts. I am very proud to have such a great team.
Big shout out to Jacy and Carl working on the bikes all week in sweltering heat and all our team sponsors as usual.
Also thanks to Salva and Kike as usual for capturing the efforts of the team in video and photos.
We now head to Les Orres in the South of France for the next round of the EWS where there are some more big Mountains waiting for a big two-day battle of the best mountain bikes riders in the world.