It's been six years since the Enduro World Series has visited the lush hills of the Tweed Valley, Scotland, but this season will bring riders back to the famous UK region for the final showdown of the season.
This has been an incredible season of racing despite some race cancellations, and the riders have given their all so far to make it to where they are right now. We've seen Jack Moir and Melanie Pugin rise above even their past successes, newcomers like Hattie Harnden explode onto the scene, and riders like Jesse Melamed, Kevin Miquel, and Noga Korem prove over and over that they too deserve spots on the podium. And of course, though it's no secret, Richie Rude and Isabeau Courdurier continued to show up fiercely for yet another season, giving us what is objectively the strongest EWS field we've ever seen. The racing just keeps getting better.
The end of the season is bittersweet, but it's not quite over yet, so let's take a look at what to expect.
Unlike the last round in Finale Ligure and its rocky ridges, the Tweed Valley round will take riders through lush forests with plenty of moisture and techy roots. The Tweed Valley will not only host the EWS, but will hold its annual mountain bike festival surrounding the event with skills clinics, shows by Danny MacAskill and other Scottish riders, bike demos, an airbag, and more attractions. As this is the last round of the EWS for 2021, we can be sure the racers will make the most of their time in Scotland.
Like the Crans-Montana and Finale Ligure rounds, this week will have just one EWS race (though it'll also have an EWS-E, an EWS100, and an EWS80 race leading up to the weekend's big one), with a Pro Stage Saturday worth extra points and a five-stage race Sunday that will include a rerun of the pro stage.
Many of the races this season took place in the high mountains and wide open spaces, but the Tweed Valley tracks will be relatively short, often steep, and in the woods, so it'll be a totally different game.
The StagesPALE ARMADILLO:
1.7km / 295m descent / 0m climb - Stage 1 / Pro Stage & Stage 6
For both the Pro Stage and Stage 6, riders will descend some of the Innerleithen area's most well-known downhill sections including a significant part of the course used by the British Downhill National Championships, plus a brand new section down at the bottom. Both times, riders will climb a relatively straightforward set of access roads and climbing trails to the top.PRE DRINKS:
1.4km / 230m descent / 5m climb - Stage 2
Like Pale Armadillo, Pre Drinks will link up some more of the region's popular descents. Pre Drinks also will include a short but sharp climb before it goes back to steep, rooty descent.NEW YORK NEW YORK:
2.1km / 366m descent / 0m climb - Stage 3
After descending Pre Drinks, riders will repeat almost the same climb plus some extra pedaling to reach Stage 3, New York New York. The stage start will be the high point for the day as well as the beginning of the longest stage at 2.1km, with the first half of the stage technical and hard to find flow while the second half is much faster and wide open.BIG BAW:
1.45km / 233m descent / 0m climb - Stage 4
Big Baw, like most of the other trails in the area, has some techy sections in the woods and plenty of roots that could get challenging in the wet, should it rain. It will drop riders at the bottom of the race's shortest liaison, where they'll continue up a dirt road to Stage 5.BIG DEAL:
1.8km / 347m descent / 7m climb - Stage 5 & Queen Stage
The dirt road climb from Stage 4 will take riders to a hiking access trail that parallels the stage to the top. Big Deal, the Queen Stage, looks to be a classic British descent, with big ruts, roots, and mud taking riders down into Walkerburn, a town over from Innerleithen, where they'll pedal back to race the Pro Stage once more to finish the race and the EWS season.
We're back again at the Enduro Wet Series. Rain in the forecast for the weekend all but guarantees muddy ruts, slick roots, and a true test of who can withstand tough and changing conditions.Thursday, September 30Mostly cloudy with a couple of showers, mainly early in the day // 13°C // 69% probability of precipitation // wind 17km/h Friday, October 1
- PracticeWindy with periods of rain; cooler in the morning, then becoming chilly // 9°C // 66% probability of precipitation // wind 30km/h Saturday, October 2
- Prologue Practice & RaceBreezy and cool with rain at times // 10°C // 69% probability of precipitation // wind 24km/h Sunday, October 3
- RaceWindy and cool with occasional rain // 10°C // 65% probability of precipitation // wind 32km/h
Weather forecast as of Wednesday, September 29 from Accuweather
What Happened Last Round?
Once again, the most recent round of the EWS round reaffirmed that any of the top riders could make the podium, with familiar faces in the top five spots for each category. The women's standout rider last race was Bex Baraona, taking her first podium of the season in third behind Morgane Charre and Isabeau Courdurier, while the men's field saw Jack Moir dominate over Jesse Melamed and Kevin Miquel.
1st. Morgane Charre: 28:40.60
2nd. Isabeau Courdurier: 28:57.45
3rd. Bex Baraona: 29:12.07
4th. Melanie Pugin: 29:13.24
5th. Noga Korem: 29:17.87
1st. Jack Moir: 24:36.51
2nd. Jesse Melamed: 24:51.14
3rd. Kevin Miquel: 24:54.31
4th. Martin Maes: 24:54.76
5th. Richie Rude: 24:55.14
Overall Series Standings
Melanie Pugin's gap over the rest of the women's field has closed a bit since Finale Ligure after Morgane Charre took the win and Isabeau Courdurier slotted into second, bringing them both a bit closer to the top. If Pugin were to earn no points this weekend, she wouldn't be able to hold onto her lead, though if past performance is anything to go by, it seems likely that she'll stay ahead of the field. Still, any of those top three riders could take the overall title.
The men's field continues to be topped by Jack Moir and Richie Rude, who have battled back and forth all season and are now separated by just a hair. If one of them wins this weekend, that rider will take the title, unless the other wins the Queen or Pro stages. If neither wins but they're separated by just one place, Moir will likely take the title, but Rude could still take it if he finishes two or more spots ahead of Moir or if he gains extra points from the Queen or Pro stages. That 70-point difference in the current ranking becomes more difficult to make up the farther down the results sheet the riders finish.
1st. Melanie Pugin: 3885
2nd. Morgane Charre: 3450
3rd. Isabeau Courdurier: 3375
4th. Hattie Harnden: 3225
5th. Noga Korem: 2985
1st. Jack Moir: 4085
2nd. Richie Rude: 4015
3rd. Jesse Melamed: 2955
4th. Kevin Miquel: 2910
5th. Jose Borges: 2850
Jack Moir has been the top breakout rider of the season, and I think he has just the slightest edge over Richie Rude. He's just been a tiny bit more consistent, and in the end, it's those marginal gains and extra consistency that make the difference. Still, Richie Rude is obviously still at the top of his game, and it would be great to see him take another successful result from a venue where he last raced back when he first started to enter the collective enduro consciousness. Rounding out the podium, I'll pick Jesse Melamed. His home trails in BC aren't all that different from Scottish slop, and he's been so consistently on the rise that it's hard to bet against him.
Hattie Harnden, the English rising star, will be close to home for the final race of the season, and she may be able to harness that extra motivation for her third elite win. The Scottish roots and ruts will be just like what she's comfortable with, so she really could be unstoppable. For second place, it seems like Morgane Charre will have a bit of momentum after her win last race in Finale, so she may be able to keep that going into this weekend. She's had a great season but hasn't quite kept up with Melanie Pugin, so she'll likely want to give the last race everything she has. Melanie Pugin has been leading all season and will also want to hold her position, but might prioritize consistency and safety just a bit more in order to keep her reign on the women's field.
1 // Jack MOIR
2 // Richie RUDE
3 // Jesse MELAMED
1 // Hattie HARNDEN
2 // Morgane CHARRE
3 // Melanie PUGIN
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