EWS Race Report - Chile

Apr 22, 2014 at 7:01
by Matt Wragg  

Celebrating the Gracia way. The wild man enjoying a couple of vices after long hard weekend on the bike. In his words F ck it. This is Enduro.

Celebrating the Gracia way. The wild man enjoying a couple of vices after long hard weekend on the bike. In his words, "F*ck it. This is Enduro."

Someone was calling for 16 piscos. 16 glasses of the clear, hard spirit the Chileans love so much. It seemed like the obvious thing to do at 2am, because, in the words of Gary Perkin, "no pisco, no disco." A celebration was needed. So much work went into this weekend's racing and it was time for Chris Ball and all the guys at Montenbaik, Mathias, Eduardo, Nacho and crew, to enjoy what they achieved this weekend. Little details that you couldn't see from the outside are what made the difference. Like the hours and hours spent just searching for the trail that became stage two. Riding it before the race with Chris, he turned to me, grinning, and said, "You know you're only the fifth person to ever ride this trail?"

Come Sunday evening the drinks started flowing - after the obvious pressure the organisers were under to make this work it was time to let off. The work had taken its toll on both Mathias and Eduardo as they slumped in their seats, out cold from tiredness before the booze had time to take its place. But it did work, international enduro racing came to Chile and it was a huge success. Last year was a tentative year for the EWS, a series lashed together on the fly, with the main goal of simply functioning as a series. This time there was time to plan, consider the next move and, if this is a sign of things to come for the series, its future is looking brighter than ever. This weekend put an element of adventure into high level mountain bike racing, something which is long gone from the established international series.

As one of these locals said - it s only right that we carry our crosses at Easter. The hike up to stage four this morning was pretty tough going it certainly had you awake for the start of the stage.

One of the telling details was how many people said they were having fun. From the racers, to the organisers and the media covering the race. Many photographers came straight from Pietermaritzburg World Cup, and more than a few admitted that they were happier at the EWS. With big mountains to shoot and the chance to ride the trails (even if it was with a 15kg camera pack on), it's easy to understand why. For the riders the format is more relaxed and there is more time to really ride your bike, rather than the limited runs of a DH race or the strict energy conservation of an XC race. Enduro is never going to be the media spectacle world cup racing is and should be, that's missing the point. The fact that people enjoy being here and being part of this is why enduro is growing in the way it is - and, providing you can find the airfare, anybody can come and join in. With talk of races in New Zealand and Asia in the future, not to mention a return to Chile before long, the coming years look to be a lot of fun.

Now, some 24 hours later, sitting in Santiago airport waiting for the germtube to propel us home to the safe shores of Europe, that perfect racing and those 16 piscos seem a world away already. Even if the hangover isn't quite kicked (if you're 18 and reading this, that is what happens when you reach your 30s and get out of practice with your drinking). So what did we learn from the racing?

Jared Graves had an incredible day one but just couldn t keep up with Jerome when all the dust had settled. Second overall for the weekend. Graves wants the win and it will come soon.

Graves isn't going to whitewash the series
That's not to say he isn't going to win the title this year, going by his form he's definitely at the head of the hunt, but Jerome Clementz rather wants to keep his title. Seeing how much Jerome put on the line to claw back Graves' overnight lead, it's clear he's not lost any of the hunger that won him the series title last year. That's not to mention Nico Lau, Florian Nicolai or Martin Maes. On the final stage on Sunday, only Lau and Nicolai came down the hill in less than 8 minutes. Maes scared everyone on the shorter stages, but, as we predicted in the pre-season guide, he did seem to struggle somewhat more on the longer stages. Then there is the matter of Francois Bailey-Maitre. We'll admit that we maybe should have included him amongst the 20 riders to watch and, talking to him Sunday evening, he's more convinced than ever that he has the speed to stand on that top step of the podium.

Anne-Caroline Chausson was dominant this weekend winning all but the third stage.

ACC is back
After a disappointing year last year she's back at the top of the timing sheet. Talking to her after, she's trying not to take it all too seriously. It was a very surreal moment hearing one of the greatest racers mountain biking has ever seen confess that she doesn't enjoy racing too much, she doesn't want the stress any more. That said, Moseley isn't far behind, although she never looked comfortable on the bike this weekend. What is clear is that the two of them are still a class apart and despite Anneke Beerten and Isabeau Courdurier making progress, they are still a little way of the leaders' pace.

Toby Woggon is one of only three Germans here in Chile this weekend - it s a sign that enduro still hasn t really caught on in Germany yet and many riders are sticking to their staple diet of techical climbs and fireroad descents.

Germans don't get enduro
We got a lot of stick in the comments for suggesting that Germans haven't really got into enduro in a big way. We stand by what we said. When as respected a German journalist as Markus Greber is willing to admit the same, then you know you're on the right lines. The simple fact is that the two biggest German teams - Canyon and Cube - don't have a single German rider between them (even if Nico Lau was listed as a German this weekend, he has a passport that says otherwise). The two German men who came to race, Toby Woggon and Max Schumann, both admitted that they weren't fast enough this weekend and Ines Thoma slipped behind Isabeau Courdurier for the first time this weekend, a place further back than she was accustomed to finishing last year. The sport needs Germany to be involved, as it's such a huge market, but until a strong national race scene develops in Germany, we're not likely to see a German in the top ten in the near future. Does this sound at all familiar to anybody who follows DH? If you're one of the people who was unhappy with our comment what we believe is most needed right now are grassroots races - so put down the keyboard, go out and prove us wrong.

Curtis Keene struggled with an illness all weekend and found himself a long way away from where he d want to be in the standings this evening.

It's not a good time to be an American
Ben Cruz got struck down with Lyme's disease this winter, Curtis Keene was sick as a dog all weekend, Lars Sternberg destroyed his wrist and Kyle Warner hurt his back. Not a good start to the season for US national pride. Adam Craig was the top-placed American in 18th place, although the downhill-orientated trails probably suit him less than some of the flatter, more physical courses later in the season, unless he finds some pace, he's going to struggle to hold onto his single digit number plate this season. Cannondales new signing, Marco Osborne, was the biggest ray of light for team USA, finishing in a respectable 21st place in his first EWS round. The bad news is that he won't be competing in the full series this year, just selected rounds, so his chances of a strong overall standing are not good. Richie Rude is also a great addition to the series. Sure, he may have finished outside the top 30 (35th), but it's awesome just to watch him ride a bike - the aggression and power he was showing on track was brilliant. Honestly, we find it hard to care where he finishes when we get to watch him huck thirty feet to flat off a tiny fly-off.

Fabian Barel Injury

Fabien Barel is the toughest man in mountain biking
Barel went down hard. Smashing vertebrae hard. Yet despite that he finished the first day, including the ten minute-plus second stage. When we last saw him he was limping in the breakfast queue, clearly in a lot of pain, but getting ready to see if he could mobilise his back to finish the race. His team insisted he visit a doctor, for the sake of the insurance, which is when they discovered the break in his spine. Latest word is that his trouble moving came from some nerve damage, but we don't have any solid details. We would say Fab has earnt our endless respect for continuing racing with an injury like that, but the truth is he had that a long time ago. Our thoughts are with you Fab, we hope you heal fast and heal well. More on Fabien here.


The next round of the EWS is 30 May - 1 June in the Tweed Valley, Scotland.
Must Read This Week


  • + 54
 It is hard to see such a great biker in such condition. Hope all continues to progress well.
  • + 47
 Heal up quick Fabien, such a great rider.
  • + 28
 That photo of Gracia - fuckin class!! As for Fabien, heal up soon fella
  • + 2
 C.GRACIA the pic tells the story every human needs to LIVE LIFE,and FABIEN to you must your life cause it comes one time and these to are here t remind us live it your way.i love these 2 they are as real as it get.
  • + 13
 "With talk of races in New Zealand and Asia in the future, not to mention a return to Chile before long, the coming years look to be a lot of fun."

I don't know if the 2015 events are already set in stone, but I do hope that they consider an event in Asia, even if it's not officially part of the EWS. I think it's only fair that the series passes by the Far East where most of the bikes where manufactured.
  • + 10
 Hopefully in the next few years drones will make the sport more viewer friendly.
  • + 7
 Riding with broken ribs and vertebrae? That guy must be from another planet. Unbelievable. Get well soon, dude! Respect! As for Cedric, next time try a cigar: you are in South America, bro!
  • + 5
 Hy Guys
I'm German and have a comment to the above "Germans don't get Enduro" Definately not true. Enduro is VERY popular here BUT we don't really have any fast guys. Same as DH. In a race up to 300 racers but no fast ones. Well except for Fischbach.
So - what is there to report about if there are no Germans in the top 20 or 30 or 40?
  • + 3
 Dude your logic is kinda out. If Germany was into Enduro, you would have some fast people. The fact is it's still basically a hobby, not a seriously viewed aspect of the sport. Thats the mark of a hobby, that lots of people do it but they don't see it as a career or lifestyle. Until you have a serious group of Germans racing Enduro as their #1 race type, you can't really support your claim.
  • + 8
 well...US had gazzillion riders and none was fast either ...lol
  • + 6
 The US and Germany have the same issue.
  • + 5
 The hobby thing is nonsense. The majority of guys racing EWS have to hold down a job to pay the bills and only the select few at the very top get enough support to focus full time on racing. MTB in general is a very amateur sport when you consider the money on offer even to the top guys and tiny winners cheques. Somewhere like the UK is blessed with ridiculously fast gravity racers and has a pretty big Enduro following but no Brits in the top 20 either as far as I could see. A bit rough giving the German's a hard time with no real gravity pedigree for a long time. The Brits and US should be the one having to answer questions not the German's Wink
  • + 10
 The Germans are simply too clever for racing.

Racing: Someone picks a track, you have to deal with the weather on race day, pay for the entry, the drive there, the extra money for parking that was mentioned nowhere. All that time of money for standing in a long line of riders, in rain or heat several times to wait for your number, your practice runs, the shuttle, the water hose and finally the race run. all day spent in a queue to be 67th in the end.

Not racing: Going out when I want, i get to choose the weather, the track, just about everything. costs no money and is more fun for many reasons. On a bad weather day you can clean the kitchen instead of standing in a queue waiting for a mudfest on a ruined track.

Probably hard to believe for people in the UK and US that someone does something for the pure fun without aiming to be fastest, getting pod or vod, 1000 likes or something else. Bonus: A 10 year old bike is good enough when it is still fun when you dont compete. No need for a 12 kg 650B carbon enduro.
  • + 1
 The reason the US doesn't have any fast riders is because we don't have a good National race series with real courses. Most of the races here could be won on a 100 mm travel 29r which sucks. There have been some improvements with the BME and other similar events, but we have a long way to go.
  • + 1
 Quite strange to read again such a BS about the Zermans. Matt Wragg, next week go to the garda bike festival and take a look at the guys that fill up every shuttle. Or ride up (yes uphill! It does exist, in some places) to Monte Tremalzo and choose one of the rocky trails downhill. Or maybe what you mean is that riding bikes on trails is just mountain biking, but if you are sort of racing it becomes "enduro".
  • + 0
 Bullshit? Wind your neck in. I've been to the Garda festival, shot a Specialized race and talked to honest to god real life Germans. While I was away, a couple of Germans who came to race in France explained exactly this to my girlfriend, completely separately. Are you going to tell Markus that he doesn't know what he's talking about? How about Enrico?

And filling shuttles and riding bikes is not enduro racing. As the editor of a website that covers enduro I'd have hope you understood something about the sport.
  • + 2
 Well, why are most of Marco-ITs last comments about sh…ing on articles from mattwragg? seems a bit personal, so better use personal messages for this.

on the german thing. I think "Germans don`t get Enduro" has a lot of truth in it. Being german myself, and have met some german guys at Enduro races. In Germany there is almost no that supports Gravity or even XC, its really hard to breed a good selection of riders. No national series, just some races. The Enduro race formats have evolved from France & Italy some years ago. Well, actually surprised that the Italians are way back at EWS.

btw. Cube Action Team has 2 male German riders, which did not race the EWS1. What I miss most at german riders is the race attitude. When I read quotes like "…it had so much fun on the trails, I almost forget to race.." as an excuse for a bad result. even if its just a cheap excuse… you might start to believe that taking part in races should be fun… Racing is about winning. Nothing else.
  • + 4
 There are only two countries who can race Enduro, France, 13 riders in the top 20 males........then Switzerland with 2 guys in the top 20 ies......the rest are one man shows countries...so what to cry about ?
  • + 5
 Matt, Germany has its own enduro series (www.enduroseries.net/de/Zeitplan), so like Italy does. And, as an Italian, I can tell you enduro is alive and kicking in Italy. But, if you take the EWS top 20, you will find Lupato in 2013 and nobody in Chile EWS 2014. Does this mean enduro racing does not exist in Italy?

What about Canada, US, Spain, Austria? It looks like only France is eligible as an enduro country. That's the reason why I think your comment (and that in the previous article, not in your name, so Telem, this is not personal - btw I know Matt and I come along with him quite well) has no real fundament.
  • + 1
 I cannot edit my post, I'd like to add what you wrote:

The sport needs Germany to be involved, as it's such a huge market, but until a strong national race scene develops in Germany, we're not likely to see a German in the top ten in the near future.
  • + 2
 For all the shit that anything Enduro cops around here, its still a pretty sweet way to race that is certainly more accessible to most people than downhill.
  • + 3
 Holy sh*t, Ben Cruz has Lyme's disease? That could be career ending, you have it for life.
  • + 3
 Wow... they drop that in the article like its no big deal. For those who don't know, lyme disease if left undiagnosed is often mistaken for multiple-sclerosis. Unless diagnosed and treated early, you have it for life - I hope they caught it in time for Ben, otherwise it might literally be career ending.
  • + 0
 Not a good year for riders from Novato. Kinda weird.
  • + 8
 No you do not get lyme disease for life. It is a transient bacterial infection that is treatable with antibiotics. It can lead to some prolonged inflammation but not lifelong disease. However, many naturopathic "healers" try to convince people that they have "chronic lyme disease" which copious peer-reviewed scientific and epidemiological research studies have all shown is a myth.
  • + 1
 Thanks PPP, I wasn't aware of that. I do know that whatever neurological damage it causes before it gets treated is relatively permanent though.
  • + 5
 "... which copious peer-reviewed scientific and epidemiological research studies have all shown is a myth."

One of the best statements I've ever read on Pinkbike. I want the t-shirt!
  • + 2
 It's like if you wore spandex before you knew better.
  • + 4
 might even be dry here at the end of may lol
  • + 4
 ha, ha lets see what tracks they use. If its the innerleithen golf tracks it'll never be dry under that canopy of trees. Ain't no dusty flowing Chile that's for sure. Can see a few top boys wrapped round some trees.
  • + 1
 Golf tracks are bone dry and dusty at present, just come back from 5 days riding at Inners, best conditions ridden in a long time. The roots held no fear!
  • + 1
 pity I missed those conditions. Been pouring for the last couple of days so that'll be them back to normal. i.e roots hold fear!!
  • + 2
 and what about italia's rider.....? ah!! there is the speaker... apologies
  • + 1
 Fab Barel, the old DH Legend fighting through another MTB crash, what a real soul fighters and my respect for whole DH and Enduro riders.
  • + 2
 You forgot to mention Aaron Bradford in your US recap. Top 30 is definitely nothing to sneeze at.
  • + 3
 Heal up Fab!
  • + 1
 Germans don't do Enduro. They ride mountain bikes. XC and DH. May be they don't fall so easy for all the marketing BS.
  • + 2
 looks like more pps are getting hurt in enduro than in DH!!
  • + 2
 Get well soon Fab!!!!
  • + 0
 f*ck enduro Razz its only Hype ,who gives a hoot ...enduro is for motorbikes, for bicycle its called Mountain biking !
  • + 2
 Enduro is so much fan
  • + 2
  • + 2
 culpa del tablet...ahí tienes tu "fun" cause sure, you must be a native speaker...ctm
  • + 2
 CG is the man... Shit!!!
  • + 1
 Fuck it. This is Enduro.
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