It’s the first time the series has crowned its World Champions somewhere other than Finale Ligure in Italy – and where better than in the shadow of one of Europe’s most famous mountains, the Matterhorn? With a growing reputation for its expanding trail network and flanked by incredible mountain scenery, Zermatt is the perfect location for this historic race. From what we have seen so far it has more than lived up to the hype. The trails are long and rough, the views simply mind-blowing from every angle, and the auto-free town offers a change of pace from the usual bustle of car traffic that we accept as normal everywhere else.
With five stages being raced in one day and with over 3000m of descending, this race is going to be brutal on bikes and bodies. Add in the altitude and any physical effort will just be that much more draining. And with the amount of rock on some stages or switchbacks on others, things are as tricky and as technical as they come.
On the racing side of things, Isabeau Courdurier has the women's title locked up, so she can have a little fun out there this weekend. Will she let her guard down a bit, or will she finish out with a perfect season? Only time will tell. The men's race is quite the opposite as Florian Nicolai just barely holds the lead over Sam Hill. Sam has the momentum of good results from the previous rounds in his favor and if he wins this weekend, Florian will have to be within just a few spots. That is, of course, before you count the final stage of the year which will be Zermatt's Queen Stage, and with it, an added points haul. If either Florian or Sam was to win that final stage, the points get even more complicated. You can be sure the team managers have all the variables worked out and will be at the finish line Saturday with their calculators to see just what their riders will need to do.
Check back in tomorrow as riders will put tires to the dirt on the race stages for the first time, taking their obligatory one practice run. As always, we will be there to bring you all the action and, in this case, all the epic views from the final EWS race of the 2019 season.