Where has the year gone to? It seems like only yesterday we were loading the bikes, cameras and bags onto the flight to Chile for the start of the adventure that would be the 2014 Enduro World Series season. Yet here we are, what seems like less than the blink of an eye later, heading into the final race of what has been an exciting season. In both the men’s and the women’s class it has been down-to-the-wire stuff, whole days of racing coming down to tenths and hundredths of seconds. So fittingly, as we come down to the season finale the standings are as tight as you like.
Coming into this season many people were expecting Jared Graves to be the dominant force in the racing this year, yet even though we are heading to the end with him at the head of the standings, it hasn’t been that simple. In the opening race Jerome Clementz showed how tight the competition was going to be, opening the season with a win as he defended his title, Graves had to settle for second. Unfortunately Clementz season wasn’t to be – a shoulder injury in a French national race left him on the sidelines. Yet as the season rolled into Scotland, Lau, Leov and Barnes were trading stage times all weekend to see Lau emerge with his maiden win, with Graves back in a lowly (for him, at least) ninth. It was clear that even with last years champ out, it wasn't just going to be the Jared Graves show this year.
For round three in Valloire, Leov and Lau set the pace, but mechanicals put pay to their races. As the two front-runners fell away, Graves' consistency propelled him to the front, yet he was pushed all the way to the line by an emergent Oton, winning with a margin of only a handful of seconds after an hour of racing. As the series headed to Italy, Oton showed his full potential taking the win, as Bailly-Maitre pushed him every inch of the way and Graves fell back to fifth.
It was only when the series crossed the Atlantic that we saw Graves as a dominant force, taking his first decisive win of the season on the sculpted tracks of Winter Park as many of his regular rivals fell away on the bike park terrain. It was in Whistler where we saw what may have been the champion’s ride from Graves. After a tough morning of mechanicals, he battled through the day to keep himself in touch going into the final stage, then destroyed everyone on Top of the World to take the win in dramatic style.
So coming into this final race Graves sits atop the tree with 2690, 290 points clear of Oton, 380 from Leov and with Lau and Wildhaber slightly further off. With 500 points available for the win, Graves, a man who has finished no lower than ninth this season, just needs to take 22nd to be guaranteed the series title. However, with the tough, rocky stages of the Finale Ligure anything can happen, a puncture or a stray rock punching out his derailleur could open the door to one of this challengers and give us a four-way fight and possibly a series champion few would have predicted nine months ago.
EWS Rankings Men
With the women’s racing is has been a straight fight between Moseley and Chausson again this year, a tipping scale. While Chausson took first blood in Chile this year, the scale tipped firmly towards Moseley for the following three races. In Colorado Chausson broke her winning streak to put the season standings at 4-2, with neither of them having taken a spot lower than second.
Going into the final stage of the Whistler race it looked like Chausson was going to take the lead as she was ahead going into the final stage, with an off-form Moseley holding onto third behind Ravanel. But it wasn’t to be, a cruel puncture dropped Chausson back to third, handing Ravanel her maiden EWS victory and giving Moseley second and a slight lead going into the last race. With 400 points on the line, to take the title Chausson needs to win and Moseley needs to finish third or worse - the 350 points available for second would give Moseley the title and the 320 for third would trigger a countback, and if they had three wins a apiece, it could go all the way down to who had the most stage wins over the season. So although that takes a little pressure off Moseley, she still needs to hold off an on-form Ravanel to clinch her second series title.
EWS Rankings Women