Two-time Enduro World Series champion Sam Hill overcame some early bad luck for Team CRC Mavic at the Whistler Enduro World Series to take second overall and bank crucial points in a bid to retain his championship title.
Kelan Grant and Elliott Heap put in impressive performances too, taking Team CRC Mavic to third place in the overall rankings.
As ever, Team Manager Nigel Page was there to bring us this report:
Round six of the Enduro World Series took us back to the mountain bike Mecca of the world – Whistler, Canada.
For this year’s race there were six stages with the massive Top of the World stage on Saturday night and then another five really tough stages on Sunday.
The stages in Whistler are all made up linking different trails in the bike park with a few fresh sections thrown in, but if you ride Whistler regularly or you are a local you have a huge advantage.
Stage one was a really important one at over 20 minutes long – a lot of time could be made up… or lost!
Kelan Grant was off first for the team and was nervous going up for the start, he had a huge crash on this stage last year and knew it was an important stage. Kelan ended up riding tight and finished the stage in a time of 21.32 putting him in 53rd position.
An under-the-weather Elliott Heap had never raced the Top of the World stage so it was going to be tough for him trying to race 11 miles of track with only one practice run, but Elliott did a time of 21.23 putting him in 48th place. Getting sick this year on the road seems to be a thing we are having to deal with. It’s hard with so much travel and racing to keep colds and viruses at bay.
Sam Hill was focussed and determined as he went up to the top of the stage but his bad luck seemed to curse the two-time champion once again. Sam was third from last to start and just as the top 10 riders were to drop into the gnarly exposed rocky Top of the World it started to rain, making the rocks super slippery and vision impaired through the goggles.
Richie Rude had come down before the rain along with a few other guys that were super familiar with the Whistler trails and Richie put in a blistering time of 19:45 – the only rider to go under 20 minutes. Sam came down with the fastest time of anyone who started in the rain in 20:32 which put him in fifth place, but a lot of time lost to Richie on stage one.
Day two was a different story with rain all through the night, making conditions slick and muddy on the tough, technical and physical stages.
Kelan Grant and Elliott Heap seemed to have a battle all day between themselves which is crazy with how many riders there are. Elliott ended up finishing 31st overall and Kelan Grant in 32nd, only two seconds separating them over just under one hour of racing. Crazy stuff, but well done lads, a great result for you both.
Sam Hill came out swinging on day two with a good battle against his closest rival in points, Eddie Masters, over the first three stages and then Sam knocked it up a gear on the last two stages to extend his 0.1 second lead over Eddie after stage four to finish 29 seconds ahead of Eddie to get second overall for the race. Richie Rude had too big of a lead after the first stage and took the win.
This was an amazing result, well done Sam and he has closed the points gap a bit on Eddie Masters and Florian Nicolai for the race for the World Championship title.
With two more rounds to go in North Star and Zermatt, the race in on!