Is this the most important week in the sport’s recent history? As we write racers and organisation alike are arriving at Puntala Resort in Tuscany, Italy, for the opening, and first ever, race in the Enduro World Series.
Manufacturers, multiple world champions, downhillers, cross country racers – they’ll all be there. The event is part of the Italian Superenduro race series (as each event in the EWS is also part of an existing series), which has helped no end with lifting the stage race discipline into the limelight since the series’ inception only a handful of years ago.
This is not going to be an easy event by any means, as 19 time MTB World Champion and Olympic BMX Champion Anne Caroline Chausson puts it, “This race will be particularly demanding, the transfers are long with little time available, this will favour those who are in better shape."
The five timed stages will be long and varied and the transfers between them will not leave a huge amount of breathing space for mechanical issues or slacking on the long uphills as we found out when we interviewed the event host Thomas Daddi recently. You can read his thoughts and how he has worked on making this the right level here.
Last year's Superenduro event from Punta Ala.
The event program consists of one 'prologue' stage on Saturday, which is basically a showcase downtown event through the nearby town of Castiglione della Pescaia, and then five stages on Sunday with a total distance of 65km, 1780m of climbing and taking an estimated six hours for the entire day's racing. Full details and stats can be found on the Superenduro page.
For us, the most interesting aspect of this and the rest of the Enduro World Series is that many of the sport’s top riders from all manner of disciplines are signed up and clearly taking it very seriously (as are their sponsors). Steve Peat is one example and he is signed up to almost the entire series and with his contract at Santa Cruz recently renewed for multiple years we suspect that enduro glory is in his sights. We’ve even heard that he’s stopped boozing!
Have a look at the Teams page on the World Series site to see who's racing.
However, the interesting point is that many of the top pro riders who are taking this very seriously don’t seem to have a great deal of experience of the events or the racing format. The first Superenduro several weeks ago would have been a great testing ground for these riders but the top end of the start list was not hugely different to a regular Superenduro. Olympian and 4X Champ Jared Graves for example has been racing both DH and XC at home in Australia and talking of a full enduro season, but will he be in for a surprise at Punta Ala?
Jerome Clementz talks with organiser Enrico Guala about the coming season for the discipline, the sport and the riders taking part.
Is your money on the ‘regular’ enduro faces of Jerome Clementz, Andrea Bruno and Remy Absalon or will the race be dominated by the undeniable talents of the downhill World Cup stars? We’ve got a funny feeling that Peaty might pull one out the bag…
We'll be at the event this weekend the 18/19 May with blow-by-blow coverage so stay tuned for more.