Round No. 7 of the Enduro World Series will be remembered as the race where Sam Hill earned his enduro stripes.
In a race that promised drama from the start thanks to an apocalyptic weather forecast, forcing the cancellation of the prologue and stage two, the stage was set for an epic showdown. The promised storms never emerged but even with the cancelled stages, riders faced a huge day, featuring 1600m of climbing and 2500m of descent over 51 km.
Full results from this past weekend can be found here and press play to watch the highlights.
In the end the Enduro des Portes du Mercantour driven by Urge Bike Products came down to a fierce battle between two legends of mountain biking: Hill (Chain Reaction Cycles-Paypal) and Nico Vouilloz (Lapierre Gravity Republic). The pair fought it out over seven stages amongst the iconic trails of the Maritime Alps in France, all the while being chased by young Jesse Melamed of Rocky Mountain Urge. However, Hill proved too strong for both, and crossed the final finish line 9 seconds clear, forcing Vouilloz to settle for second and Melamed third.
“It feels awesome,” said Hill who’s best known as one of the sport’s all-time greatest downhill racers. “I tried not to think about my lead all day and just attack each stage as it came. Nico kept me honest all day. I knew I had a little lead and so I just tried to get down without any mistakes. It’s been a massive goal of mine to win one of these races.”
In the women’s race, Cecile Ravanel (Commencal Vallnord Enduro) continued her dominance, winning four of the seven stages. Isabeau Courdurier (SUNN) won three stages, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Ravanel and she finished over 30 seconds back. Ines Thoma (Canyon Factory Enduro Team) rounded out the podium in third.
“I’m really happy to win and to race this type of event,” said Ravanel. “This course was good because it used all the formats, pedal liaisons, chair lifts and the stages were all so different. Some long, some short and that’s what I like.”
In the U21 Men’s race Adrien Dailly (Lapierre Gravity Republic) won, meaning he and Sebastien Claquin (Rocky Mountain Urge bp) are now tied on points in the series rankings. Technically Dailly leads the series as he’s won the most recent race, but these two will be fighting it our for the series title in Italy in a couple of weeks time. Elliot Trabac (Scott SR Suntour Enduro Team) rounded out an all French podium in third.
French rider Julie Duvert won the U21 Women’s category, with Raphaela Richter (Radon Magura Factory) in second and Martha Gill (Marin Stan’s Enduro Team) was third.
Karim Amour won the Master’s category convincingly, taking over two minutes out of nearest rival Carles Barcons, with Cyrille Pages (MS Mondraker) in third.
In the team competition, Rocky Mountain Urge bp were team of the day, Cube Action Team just behind in second and Ibis Cycles Enduro Race were third. Today’s result cements Rocky Mountain Urge bp’s lead in the series rankings.
The series now turns its attention to the last race of the year in the beautiful Finale Ligure. The Bluegrass Finale Enduro powered by SRAM takes place October 1-2, where the 2016 Enduro World Champions will be crowned on the shores of the Mediterranean.