6 Things We Learned at EWS Finale Ligure

Oct 1, 2018 at 12:31
by Sarah Moore  
Sam Hill kept it steady in the top 10 to take his second EWS title in two years.

What a season it has been. From Chile and Colombia, to Europe, to our backyard in Whistler, and back across the pond to the final two rounds in Spain and Italy. We're exhausted and we watched the action from the sidelines. Here are a couple things we noticed.

1. The French still rule enduro.

First and second in the Pro Women's rankings in the overall standings with Isabeau Courdurier and Cecile Ravanel, and second, third, fifth and tenth overall in the Pro Men's standings with Damien Oton Florian Nicolai, Dimitri Tordo and Youn Deniaud. On top of that, two-thirds of the riders on both the Pro Women's and Pro Men's podiums at Finale Ligure were French. The difference with the 2018 DH season? None of the men finished on the top step of the podium the whole season.

Isabeau flies the French flag before heading out for the day.

2. Cecile had the perfect season taking 8 wins in 8 races, but will it last?

Since the third EWS in Olargues, France, Isabeau Courdurier has got consistently closer and closer to Cecile at every round. She was 2:46 behind in Olargues, 2:31 in Petzen-Jamnica, 1:39 in La Thuile, 1:25 in Whistler, 55 seconds behind in Spain, and now just 6 seconds behind in Finale Ligure with two stage wins. On a side note, Cecile wasn't the only one who had the perfect season. The UK's Ella Conolly won eight for eight in the U21 Women's category.
All smiles after anther win for Cecile Ravanel.

3. It's a very long season, which means consistency is key.

It was a drama-filled year with riders having some major ups and downs throughout it. Katy Winton was able to hold on to third despite not finishing on the podium after the first two rounds. And how about Florian Nicolai not getting one podium and still finishing in third overall!? Richie Rude won three rounds, but still couldn't crack the top 5 overall.
When Katy Winton flatted and couldn t get her FTD out she had a long haul back to the pits from stage three. It left her spent and stressed knowing she was minutes away from missing her last start time of the day.

4. Injuries are a part of the game, but how long you'll be out is anyone's guess.

Just seven weeks after Ines Thoma broke her C5, L1 and nose ahead of EWS Whistler, she was able to finish EWS Finale Ligure! Jesse Melamed broke his hand ahead of Whistler and finished 8th in Spain and 7th in Finale Ligure. Then there's Adrien Dailly who missed almost the entire season with a broken elbow, and Rae Morrison who missed half the season with a broken finger.
Jesse Melamed mixed it up in the top 10 despite riding with a still broken hand sustained at the last round in Whistler.

5. Second place riders put it all on the line.

There isn't that one-run-wins-all attitude for the final round of the EWS like there is at DH World Championships... At least not for the leaders going into the final round. Sam Hill played it safe, with a 9th place to finish up the season. However, both Martin Maes and Isabeau Courdurier seemed to put it all on the line with nothing to lose and everything to gain in Finale Ligure. It almost paid off for Isabeau Courdurier, and proved detrimental to Martin Maes' overall dreams after he crashed and injured his hand.
A confident looking Martin Maes in the morning. Unfortunately he injured his hand early in the day after hitting a tree causing him too much pain to contend for the win.

6. A healthy ALN is a force to be reckoned with.

Andreane Lanthier-Nadeau improved steadily each race after returning from injury for Round 4, with a 9th, 6th, 4th, and two third places. One to watch in 2019!
ALN back from injury and on the podium withing two races. Reason to smile.

Other oddities:
• Flat pedals and 650b wheels took the Pro Men's overall, but clips and 29ers took it for the women.
• Commencal riders won the EWS Pro Women's overall, DH Men's overall, and have development riders that were top three in the overall in both DH with Thibaut Daprela in DH and Theotim Trabac in Enduro.
• Miranda Miller finished 10th at the final DH World Cup of the year, and 10th at EWS Finale Ligure.
• Casey Brown has a third place earlier this year in Petzen-Jamnica, but posted on Instagram that Finale Ligure would be her last EWS... What next?

What did we miss? What stood out to you this during this weekend's race?

• Essential Guide to Finale Ligure
Course Preview
Practice Photo Report
How Do Enduro Pros Fuel Up For Race Day?
Final Results
Race Day Photo Epic

MENTIONS: @EnduroWorldSeries


  • + 49
 Flats for the win!!
  • + 1
 I Don’t understand why more pros in enduro aren’t running them.
  • + 57
 @MTBingSpartan: Because Sam Hill may honestly be the *ONLY* person in pro mens mountain biking that can WIN with them.

Nobody has sniffed the podium on flats in DH since 2015 (Connor Fearon 2nd @ Leogang), and you'd have to go back to 2014 when somebody won with 'em. And who was the winner? Sam Hill.
  • + 34
 @raybao: Don't forget Gee Atheron in 2014 at Cairns... He never clips and won on borrowed flat pedals... That's legit.

The best part is probably the the guy he borrowed the shoes from trackside, well his name was Sam...
  • + 6
 @MTBingSpartan: Because pros prefer clipless pedals
  • + 11
 @raybao: true but that is because everyone but Sam Hill is training on them, if more pros rode flats all the time then more flats would be on the podium.
  • + 20
 @MTBingSpartan: And if Sam Hill switched to clips, then there'd be more clips on the podium. Where are the people whin(g)ing for that? Ride what you want to ride.
  • + 3
 The Don did a video for GMBN where he timed himself clipped in and in flats and lo! He was faster on flats!
  • + 11
 @MTBingSpartan: I don't understand why people care...
  • + 10
 @rollingdip: because when you're on flats, you share more DNA with Mr Hill
  • + 8
 make it stop
  • + 3
 @raybao: he doesn't race that regularly, but a certain Jose Ratland does not clip anymore..... braaaap
  • + 0
 You clearly can see that Sam s performance on flats is always struggling when arrive the more european mediterranean style with akwards steeps tights and rocks... Prove me if I am wrong. BTW He seems to gaing extra curve speed on lose fast ones...
  • + 2
 @MTBingSpartan: I guess it is the time they need to invest to get fast on flats.
  • + 4
 @raybao: Is this because none of the pro riders use flats anymore (with the exception of a few) and aren't as comfortable on them?

I do think flats really suit enduro racing when you don't know the track. DH is a different story.
  • + 1
 @fartymarty: I think those entering the racing world are told that it’s clips or nothing really, they are told they will give them an adavantage at an early age, anyone on here who was not told at some point clips are the next step to success is lying.
  • + 0
 @raybao: he’s the only one because everybody else was duped into thinking clips are vastly superior
  • + 2
 What with the Miranda Miller mention eh.
  • + 3
 @chyu: they had to point out the 2 only good things that happened to her this season i guess
  • + 35
 All I hope for next year is that Graves is back!
  • + 27
 Clipped in and on a 29er for the win! The Rude vs Hill vs Maes battle is going to be a good one next year.
  • + 32
 Well I bet Adrien Dailly has a thing a two to say about that Wink
  • - 8
flag endurocat (Oct 1, 2018 at 15:16) (Below Threshold)
 Since when 27.5 wheels became an Oddity?
They are clearly the fastest wheel choice
  • + 2
 @endurocat: oh no! Here comes another “wheel war”
  • - 42
flag jclnv (Oct 1, 2018 at 15:52) (Below Threshold)
 @endurocat: They'll be a extinct on anything but Walmart bikes in 5 years. Every manufacturer I speak to is putting zero R&D in 650b bikes.
  • + 17
 @endurocat: pick a wheel size, be a dick about it...
  • + 4
 @MTBingSpartan: but would it be the PB comments section without a wheel war?
  • + 4
 @jclnv: that's because they're so good they have to devote more time trying to make 29ers ride properly.
  • - 1
 @headshot: I don't know what the reason is. All I can tell is they're all gung-ho for 29" and pretty meh for 650b.
  • + 7
 @jclnv: And how many manufacturers do you speak to? Lol key point.
  • + 1
 @ReformedRoadie: does it wheelie matter anymore?
  • + 18
 Ravanel could have lost the whole thing on the final day, despite winning nearly every stage of every round. Sorry PB but that does not mean consistency is key, it means that the points system is lousy.
  • + 4
 She only could've lost because Isabeau was just as consistent with close second places; constantly narrowing the gap, and occasionally overtaking. But yeah, that is a little weird.
  • + 18
 next year Sam will need to take things to a next level!!! Rude and Maes are getting stronger than ever!!!
  • + 13
 Casey Brown for Rampage. Shes too much if a freerider to commit to enduro. In sure well see her more and more on the freeriding side of the fence!
  • + 4
 Agreed--not sure why the downvotes--it'd be gnarly, but it seems like she might want to with the Utah content she puts out. Invite a couple ladies.
  • + 12
 A healthy Jesse Melamed in the mix with Richie, Sam and Maes for 2019 will make for a very spicy EWS stew!
  • + 6
 Why are the French so good? My guess--a combo of long-standing bike culture (Tour de France etc), relative affluence (top 30 GDP per capita, nothing too special by first-world standards), and steep topography (Alps). Or is there some secret sauce?
  • + 6
 The French get many sports trained at school when young ...
  • + 25
 The secret is cheese and wine, and always complaining about everything.
  • + 10
 Most of the French top riders in both enduro and DH are even from the same region, the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.
An important reason this region produces so many top riders is that they have the altitude in combination with their sunny climate which allows them to ride high quality trails 12 months a year.
  • + 3
 @bressti: I do agree but that isnt the only reason because some of the top french guys (Thirion, Clementz, Absalon, Lau) come from a much muddier region up north, and the current best (Pierron and Oton) are closer to the Pyrenees.

Obviously, riding with fast riders helps you improve, so when the faster rider is Nico V. or Fabien B. that helps. It is important to understand that Vouilloz, Barel, Nicolai, Cure, Tordo, Dailly, and stretching it a little Bruni and Vergier could all go on a sunday cycle together without needing to drive to a meeting spot, they are all practically neighbours...

I think a huge factor is that on average the French enjoy a lot of racing sports: rally driving, skiing, motorbikes... These all have a huge following and community, many mountain bikers are also involved in these sports or communities. So generally there is a huge community, funding and race series for sports like these, it isn't as grassroots as in other countries.
  • + 2
 Also worth noting that the trails in Finale are very similar to the ones in the south east of France, where most (if not all) the French riders come from. This type of riding is the most popular around here, rough, long techy trails with lots of rocks and dust.
  • + 12
 @Trailstunter: Oh yes, how I miss my Enduro and DH classes that I took in elementary schools.
  • + 1
 @bressti: With any sort of races every weekend...
  • + 1
 @Mugen & @bressti: Good points! Hadn't thought about long riding season or a general racing culture. And yeah, once a country gets good at something (a sport, an industry, whatever), seems like there's a lot of inertia.
  • + 1
 A couple of years ago we were saying the Welsh produced the best DHers, as they could ride 12 months a year, while the french and north americans got snowed out
  • + 4
 @Chapelain: If complaining made you better, Pinkbike commenters would sweep all the podiums every year Big Grin
  • + 2
 @SangamonTaylor: I've always thought many French were hidding in the comments section!
  • + 1
 My wild guess is that a shortage of snow falls these last 2 decades has forced the french ski resorts to diversify and develop summer activities. They invested a lot of money to build trails, bike parks, promote mtb and host events.
  • + 10
 ALN is coming on strong!!...you GIVER GIRL!!
  • + 6
 Considering the French won 5/7 DH world cups in the mens this year also gives the argument that they rule gravity races full stop...
  • + 5
 Casey Browns moving on from enduro?
  • + 5
 Interested in hearing more in this, as well. The “casual” 3rd place she got was impressive... seems like she would have quite the future in enduro if she went all in...
  • + 18
 i have a feeling that Casey Brown isn't an athlete that is purely driven by professional racing at the highest level week in week out, she seems more of the free spirited type of mountain biker who, despite good results, doesn't feel the need to prove herself on a racetrack all year round.
  • + 1
 @philip9175: That I would agree with.
  • + 4
 @philip9175: If you see where she is coming from in life, I definitely think she is more of a free spirit.
  • + 4
 Rampage 2019!
  • + 1
 What am I not getting with this statement? "The difference with the 2018 DH season? None of the men finished on the top step of the podium the whole season." Didn't the French win almost every round?
  • + 4
 Next year will be the year of Robin Wallner Smile
  • + 2
 Flat pedals are underrated cause they take more time to master, you can skip some skill sets by switching right to clips
  • + 1
 I'm a newer rider, what kind of skills do clips let you skip?
  • + 2
 @Svinyard: properly placing your weight andunweighting, good hop technique as well.
  • + 2
 @PaulLehr: exactly, also harder to learn how to control your bike in the air if you go right to clips, you will rely on pulling the bike around with your legs rather than your whole body.
  • + 1
 Agreed. I've always ridden clipped in. On flats my riding ability deceases significantly.
  • + 1
 Rude won on the 27.5 sb6 (though he may have used the 5.5 in select races) and clips for his two ews overall championships the two years prior to Hill’s.
  • + 2
 Pinkbike predicting the 2019 season already.
  • + 1
 who started the hyphenated-name trend?
  • + 9
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