Crankworx Whistler is the biggest mountain biking festival in the world – so it was fitting that this weekend they threw the biggest enduro race of the season.
The SRAM Canadian Open Enduro brought to you by Specialized may only have lasted a day – but it proved to be the most dramatic race of the season so far.
Riders took on five stages over eight hours to battle extreme heat, 2500 metres of vertical climbing and some of the most technically challenging singletrack in North America.
This round of the Enduro World Series came down to tactics – from managing hydration and fatigue to kit choice and bike preservation, every decision had to be right in order to do well here.
And nowhere were these tactics more evident than in the results. Young Martin Maes (GT Factory Racing) led the race going into the final stage, only to be denied the win after a mechanical issue cost him valuable time –forcing him to settle for 10th place.
In stark contrast was Jared Graves – mechanical problems plagued him so badly throughout the first part of the race the Yeti/Fox Shox rider actually considered quitting after stage one – only to then take the win. A blistering time on stage five – the famous Top of the World trail – was enough for him to win the race and maintain his series lead.
Jared said: “Today was the most mentally difficult day of my life. I had bike issues all day that I had to nurse and I almost quit after stage one as I didn’t know how I was going to keep riding.
“I just had to carry on and try not to lose too much time. Then I really fought back on the last stage and put all my eggs in that basket. I felt like I made the best of a bad situation over the first four stages – I wanted to get top three but couldn’t believe that I won.
I couldn’t be happier.”
Whistler local Jesse Melamed (Rocky Mountain Urge BP Rally Team) delighted the home crowd with his first victory on stage two, but again an equipment fail saw him push his bike down the final stage and leave him sitting in 58th place.
Nico Lau (Cube Action Team) took second place, whilst Specialized’s Curtis Keene took his first spot on the EWS podium in third.
In the women’s category it was a similar story. Anne Caroline Chausson (Ibis) led the race for most of the day, only to be denied by the win by a puncture, again in the final stage. It was Cecile Ravanel (GT/Pulse Session) who triumphed, taking her first ever EWS race win.
Cecile said: “It was a good day for me, I didn’t just win my first Enduro World Series but I won it in Whistler which is the best place for mountain biking. In my dreams I never imagined I would win here – it’s been a great day for me. I’m so happy that this is where I won.”
Meanwhile Tracy Moseley (Trek Factory Enduro Racing Team), had to settle for second place, but it was enough to maintain her series lead over Anne Caroline and Cecile who sit in second and third respectively.
Sebastien Claquin (Giant France) won the junior category to maintain his series lead, and in the team competition it’s Trek Factory Racing Enduro Team who still lead Rocky Mountain Urge bp Rally Team and Yeti/Fox Shox in the rankings.
Enduro World `Series Managing Director Chris Ball said: “This race tested everything and was a true enduro – physical fitness, technical and tactical elements all played an important role in today’s race. With virtually no outside assistance allowed this race was a true adventure for all the riders that took part.”
There’s just one stop left on the calendar now – the women’s race is down to the wire between Anne Caroline Chausson and Tracy Moseley, and as proved today, anything can happen on race day – so the men’s race is still wide open.