The Essential Guide to EWS Aínsa 2018

Sep 18, 2018 at 15:02
by Farah Ahmed  

“Sure I am of this,
that you have only to endure to conquer...
You have only to go right on,
and at the end of the road,
be it short or long,
victory and honour will be found.”
- Winston Churchill, September, 1914

With the World Cup DH season now wrapped up, we mountain bike race fans don’t have much left when it comes to international competitions to keep us entertained as the nights start drawing in (at least for us Northern Hemisphere dwellers). Luckily, there are still two rounds of the Enduro World Series to contend.

For the penultimate round of the 2018 EWS season, we’re heading off to Aínsa, Spain; a region which was once the home to one of the most powerful and influential families in Spanish history - the Kingdom of Aragon. The region is full of the remnants of the kingdom’s legacy, and Aínsa itself is home to a twelfth-century castle which will play host to the Prologue and the various post-race parties.

Aínsa has hosted an EWS before - that was back in 2015 and those who remember will recall the monstrous flash flooding during race day. Looking at the forecast for this weekend, there aren’t any thunderstorms foreseen, however it has been reported that there are thunderstorms - and a chance of some flash flooding - earlier in the week, which will no doubt have an impact on the trail conditions for the riders.

The Course

What Happened At The Last Round

Five long stages made up the EWS stop over in Whistler Canada last month, and despite a bit of rain the night before the race, the heat returned with vengeance, and so did the smoky skies (thanks to nearby forest fires). The dry conditions meant the stages were littered with holes and loose rocks - many of them hidden under layers of fine dirt - and there was no respite for the riders as they made their way down from the Top of the World trail to Whistler Village on the final stage.

In the Pro Women’s race, Cecile Ravanel took an early lead. Isabeau Courdurier and Andréane Lanthier following behind. With the final stage being the real showstopper of the day, Lanthier secured a good time but it wasn’t to last because Noga Korem managed to sneak in and clinch the third place spot instead. Ravanel and Courdurier would cross the line together and finish in first and second place respectively; the same order that they had finished in every race this season.

On a charge and taking down all challengers Cecile Ravanel was a dominant force once again.
Cheers for making it six wins in six tries Cecile Ravanel.

In the Pro Men’s race, Richie Rude would take the lead on the first stage and he looked strong during the second stage, but a tree mid-way down Crazy Train would put a stop to his efforts sharpish. Martin Maes then took the mantle and moved ahead of everyone from Stage 2 and would continue that all the way to the final stage. Meanwhile, Eddie Masters would battle it out against Sam Hill over three stages until Hill eventually took charge on the final stage, inching away from Masters' challenge.

To make matters worse for Rude, who given his past history at Whistler was surely up for giving Maes a run for his money to the finish line - he would be denied that chance by a puncture early on on the final stage, denying us fans the battle. Hill would make the most of Rude’s bad luck by taking second place, with Masters rounding off the podium in third.

Martin Maes was on another level today. That win has got to taste oh so sweet.
New bike fresh win. Martin Maes and the GT crew will be celebrating tonight.

Rider Rankings

Essential Guide - EWS Ainsa 2018
EWS Pro Men Rankings
Essential Guide - EWS Ainsa 2018
EWS Pro Women Rankings

Top five individual rider points are awarded as follows. A full rundown of points is available in the EWS Rulebook.

• 1st = 500 points (Men) // 400 points (Women)
• 2nd = 450 points (Men) // 350 points (Women)
• 3rd = 420 points (Men) // 320 points (Women)
• 4th = 400 points (Men) // 300 points (Women)
• 5th = 390 points (Men) // 290 points (Women)

Team Rankings

Essential Guide - EWS Ainsa 2018
EWS Team Rankings

The Weather Forecast

The rain. EWS round 7 Ainsa Spain. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Friday 21 September - Training
Intervals of cloudiness and sunshine // High of 29°C // 3% precipitation // winds 7km/h // 11km/h gusts

Saturday 22 September - Race Day 1
Some sunshine // High of 30°C // 1% precipitation // winds 6km/h // 9km/h gusts

Sunday 23 September - Race Day 2
Sunny and very warm // High of 31°C // 1% precipitation // winds 7km/h // 11km/h gusts

Weather forecast as of Tuesday 18 September. Live updates from Accuweather.

Wragg’s Predictions

“How do we talk about the Pro Men’s race without mentioning what Martin Maes has achieved since the last round in Whistler? I can’t think of a better advert for the discipline either. With his results in Fort William, La Bresse, and now Lenzerheide, he has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that if he wanted to be, he could be a top-of-the-foodchain-downhiller. Yet when asked if he fancies switching his answer was clear - he’s having more fun riding enduro. While all that is very exciting, it drags attention away from the fact that he put more than 40 seconds into Sam Hill last time out in Whistler. Maes has won before but never in that fashion and I’m excited to see how much more momentum he carries with him into this round.
EWS Montagnes Du Caroux
Pinkbike's EWS Predictionator

The one question mark over his form is preparedness - while he has been off shocking the downhill world, his EWS competitors have been resting, training, and preparing for the last two races of the year. There has been no question of his consistency over the last two years; now he appears to have dialled the speed up from 10 to 11, and I can’t bet against him.

Even if Maes does steamroll the competition for the last two rounds, it looks like it will not be enough to turn over Hill’s series lead, and the only man who looks able to deny Hill is, well, Hill. He holds a commanding 560 point lead over Maes, so if he can peg him to within 60 points this weekend, Hill can wrap up the title with a round to spare, and save himself a nervy weekend in Finale trying to nurse home a lead. My money is on Hill doing just that. I need to be careful with my third-place predictions as both my picks in Whistler - Melamed and Thoma - promptly smashed themselves before the race even began (sorry guys). This time out I will go out on a limb and say Flo Nicolai. He’s been building back his form all year and with his current trajectory, I think he has form on his side to finish strongly this year.

It’s getting nervous at the top of the Pro Women’s field now too. The problem for Cecile Ravanel and Isabeau Courdurier is that the gap between them and the rest of the field this year has been so emphatic that they have finished one-two in every race. So while Ravanel may hold a perfect six-for-six this year, that has only allowed her to build a 300 point lead over Courdurier, and Katy Winton is still close enough to mug Courdurier for second overall if things go wrong. If they do hold formation - which I’m betting on them to do - then Ravanel would take the overall this weekend, as even if she sat out Finale after winning Aínsa, Courdurier could only draw level on points and Ravanel would take the titles as she has won more races. As for third, I’m again going to back Melanie Pugin. Maybe I have harped on about her here too much this year, but the fact that a rider who narrowly missed the podium twice and DNF’d while holding third at La Thuile did not have the supper to race in Whistler (Pugin works full time and couldn’t get time off) is not good for the series, especially when so many of the top teams don’t have a single woman on their rosters.”

1 // Sam HILL
2 // Martin MAES
3 // Flo NICOLAI

1 // Cecile RAVANEL
2 // Isabeau COURDURIER
3 // Melanie PUGIN

What Happened Here Last Time Round?

The crowds of Spanish fans were out in force at every stage of the race when the last EWS was held in Aínsa back in 2015. The weather also wanted to party…

In the Pro Women’s race, Tracy Moseley took one less stage win than second-placed Cecile Ravanel, but with but with a 25-second lead, Moseley was untouchable. Isabeau Courdurier wasn’t far behind her two rivals and slotted into third place.

In the Pro Men’s, it was Richie Rude who secured all four stages on Saturday but he wasn’t able to match his performance on Sunday and failed to win any of the remaining stages. Despite that, he was still an impressive 20 seconds up from his nearest rival Yoann Barelli. Barelli would take second and Martin Maes would finish up in third.

Of course, it's worth noting that despite it being an eight-stage race, the last stage was never raced due to torrential rain which then led to a flash flood turning the track into a fast flowing river.

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Your womens podium for the weekend - Tracy Moseley Cecile Ravanel and Isabeau Courdurier.
The men s podium and the best trophies if the season.

Previous Winners In Aínsa

2015 // Richie RUDE // USA

2015 // Tracy MOSELEY // GBR

Must Know, Must See, Must Do

A town of just over 2,000 people, Aínsa is a town lies south of the Pyrenees mountains in the Aragon region of northern Spain.

The Romans managed to make their way to the region during their expansion across the European continent, and stayed until the 5th century AD until the nomadic tribes of Germanic peoples - the Visigoths - turned up. The rugged mountainous region made it difficult for the Visigoths to maintain their hold of the region, and they were soon replaced by different ruling families.

The area would see another invasion force on its doorstep, this time in the form of the Moors, and its architecture reflects this, as the old town - which is intact still to this day - is based upon a citadel design. During the Middle Ages, the area was governed by the Moors for a few years and then it went back under control under the ever-expanding Kingdom of Aragon, which was the foundation of the Empire of Argon, and after that, the Kingdom of Spain.

The old town of Ainsa sits just above the valley floor - it was built some eight hundred years ago at a time when hilltops where the most desirable location going because they were easier to defend.
The old village of Ainsa is build into the walls of an ancient castle and gives the feels of this round a unique and stories feel.

Walking around the town itself takes you back to those founding days of Spanish royal history. The historic part of Aínsa is formed by a group of tightly packed stone houses, all snuggled up against an 11th-century tower that is the landmark for the town. You can take the view in from the top of the tower for a small fee. The castle in Aínsa is also a must see if you want to fully experience learning about the history of the area, and the remaining walls are a great way to see the view over the surrounding landscape.

Dotted around the historic part of the town are statues and other nods to the town’s living memories. There’s also the 10th-century church of Santa Maria which has been designed with influences from the town’s Roman connection in mind.

As well as riding the trails in the area, there’s also plenty of watersports on offer, including rafting. Alternatively, there are a number of museums in the area, from those dedicated to educating visitors about the traditions of the Aínsa region, to those to do with the local wildlife and ecology.

If you're there to watch the race, then you might want to opt for the 40 Euro Festival VIP pass. The pass gets you a free and priority boarding on the bus to the start stages on Sunday, an EWS branded tee shirt, a wine bottle from the Somontano Winery, access to the VIP bar, and more.

The view Tracy Moseley and the start of stage two from high up the tower of an old ruin.


The Schedule

Thursday 20 September
• 08:00-15:00 // Training - Stages 1-4
• 20:15-22:00 // Welcome Party

Friday 21 September
• 10:00-17:00 // Training - Stages 5-7
• 16:00-19:00 // EWS Exhibition Urban Prologue
• 19:00-21:00 // Sausage Party

Saturday 22 September
• 07:00-18:30 // Race- Stages 1-4
• 19:00-22:00 // Post Race Concert

Sunday 23 September
• 07:00-19:30 // Race - Stages 5-7
• 17:30 // Awards
• 18:00-20:00 // Post Race Paella Party

It goes without saying that Pinkbike will be the place to go if you want to catch all the action from Aínsa this weekend. There’ll be content from training on Friday and Saturday, and race day action recaps on Sunday. There might even be a report on the Sausage Party.

You can also catch the all the riders’ times as they progress through the stages on both days via the EWS live timing feature.

Jared Graves is back and looking focused and fast.
While the battle for the EWS continues, Jared Graves is giving it his all to overcome a huge personal battle with a brain tumour and will no doubt be in everyone’s thoughts as they race in Spain this weekend. Here's a snap of him crushing it over in Aínsa during practice back in 2015. Stay strong Jared, you’ve got this.

MENTIONS: @Fahhhmed / @EnduroWorldSeries / @mattwragg / @davetrumpore / @cameronmackenzie


  • 70 0
 Jared has made it out of surgery and was able to IG a pic of himself and type in sentences that made sense. Here's to a swift recovery Mr. Graves.
  • 15 0
 Big news!I have some friends in the past like Jared and both live like nothing have happened to them. Jared is a strong guy and I´m 100% confidence he can heal fast.
  • 17 0
 If Maes wins this, he'd go 1, 1, 2, 1 in his last four races across two disciplines at the highest level. Wow.
  • 3 9
flag neimbc (Sep 19, 2018 at 6:59) (Below Threshold)
 I'd put the money on Maes - Martin has the momentum now and knows he can hammer with the best and beat them in DH. Sam should start riding DH again for training.
  • 5 0
 And he is only what, 22? With the likes of Sam, Gee, Minnar and Gwin entering the end of their primes, it's comforting to see the likes of Maes, Pierron, Bruni, Vergier and Shaw emerging.

MTBs future is in good hands.
  • 2 0
 @almacigatrailrider: 21 Sir Wink and already riding several years in EWS... and winning races
  • 12 0
 Damn. Martin Maes hasn't finished any lower than 3rd so far. Considering Sam Hill has won 4 races our of 6 races, Maes is just 1 win and a puncture away from taking the top spot in the championship. What a season.
  • 4 0
 Shhhh no punctures!
  • 2 0
 Surely missing an entire round makes a championship out of reach for Maes. Even with a win and Hill earning no points, Hill would still be in the lead going into the last round.
  • 2 0
 Hill just needs a podium to secure the title. Hard to believe he won't manage that.
  • 11 0
 Fricken epic write up, Farah!
  • 7 1
 Aìnsa is such a great place for mountainbiking! Been there in spring: . Great trails, great scenery!
Sausages and potatoes all the time.
  • 3 0
 Ainsa love bikers! Amazing trails and scenery. I know half of the trails,all are simply spectacular. Coda Sarten is crazy up/downs,very exposed in a few points. Cerro de la Coasta is a must if you go to Ainsa,flowy steep and brutal trails...I dream with Coasta Doble.
  • 2 0
 What is weather and trail like in late April?
  • 2 0
 @Visicypher: I talk with one of the Hotel owners outside Ainsa, He told me that the weather is sweet,mornings&nights are cold but during the day temp rises between 15-20. Ainsa is hot,summer maybe is not the best time. September & October is the best time. Ainsa is in a valley surrounded by big mountains everywhere. The rain saw in EWS few years ago is very rare. If you have any doubt just call to any place there like local info points or hotels. I think April is OK,maybe a little cold in the morning and wet spots in the trails,but no drama. I think you can ride there almost all year.
  • 2 0
 @Visicypher: I was there in the beginning of April this year. Just one week before there was lots of rain, we had perfect sunny weather 15-22°C for 2 weeks, sometimes a little rain. When we left, it became cold and wet.
April - you never know.
Watch out for those caterpillars in spring, very dangerous if you are allergic.
  • 5 0
 Hey, @fahhhmed, I've got a new quote for you for next year! "One of the wettest we've ever seen from the standpoint of water" - Donald Trump, 2018.
  • 1 0
 Nothing away Maes, but the 40 seconds re Hill out in Whis, can only be attributed to Hill throttling back 1% and riding at a whole of 2018 Champion pace, achieving what has already, and whats just ahead.

Maes needed that more than Hill at that time in season and when opportunity arose, and on his triple of sik results, its going to be a mental end to season.

Think you see that gap line in practice just in now where Hill turns it back 2% to 101, all reserve on the deck.

  • 2 0
 Other than Miranda Miller, are there any other DH World Cup riders racing in Ainsa?
  • 24 0
 martin maes! ;-)
  • 2 0
 Check out the seeding list here. Cheers!
  • 1 0
 @alexcgevans: thanks! it gets me a server error now so I'll just check again later
  • 2 1
 Sorry, just can't get past that Churchill quote, after his ww1 performance.
  • 2 0
 Came good in the end.
  • 1 0
 Still my all time fav pic of Gravy - looking forward to seeing him ride with that style again
  • 2 0
 any uplift in ainsa ? thinking of riding there soon alone
  • 1 0
 Yup, there are several "taxi" services that have the right trailers and will do uplifts. They can be easily be found through local info or bikeshops or else through zonazero website. It's more economical for a group , but you may be lucky to get in with another booking. Lovely trails, awsome place.
  • 2 0
 We stayed for two weeks and never thought of using a shuttle, except on La Coasta - there is a road leading up. If you are fit enough to pedal up about 600-1000hm you can make every tour on the map. I wished for an eBike sometimes though.
  • 2 2
 Ha sausage party. Are we talking actual sausages, or just the normal lack of females?
  • 7 14
flag colincolin (Sep 19, 2018 at 2:16) (Below Threshold)
 Just the normal lack of brains. People will donate $5 for the anti cancer evil raffle and Nek minnit eat three sausages at that party.
f*ck cancer but also f*ck doing anything to prevent it.
  • 2 0
 I miss Adam
  • 4 0
 I love lamp... Brick Tamland
  • 1 0
 Almost 8,000 ft of climbing the first day :O
  • 1 0
 I see the USA women are EWS ninjas, can't be seen anywhere!
  • 1 0
 I can see Wyn Masters on the seeding list, but not Eddie? Anyone know why?
  • 1 0
 I miss Tracy

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