Three hundred and fifty riders will descend on Carrick Mountain in Ireland for the third year in a row to race what has rightly become an Enduro World Series classic. As famous for its fans as its trails, the Irish round has become known for its electric atmosphere thanks to the thousands of spectators who line the tracks come race day.
And this year there’s even more reason to celebrate, as local hero Greg Callaghan (Cube Action Team) leads the series, and as such will be last man down the hill this Sunday. Having won here in both 2015 and 2016, and fresh from the win in Madeira last week, there’s some heavy expectation on the young Irishman’s shoulders.
“The Irish round is always one of the most exciting races of the year,” said EWS GM Chris Ball. “It may not have the high mountains of some of our other venues, but it always brings the drama. The fans turn out in force and make this an extra special event for the riders. The atmosphere is insane. And with Greg leading the series and last man down the hill, I can only imagine the noise levels this year.”
There’s a host of riders trying to deny Callaghan his hat trick. Sam Hill (Chain Reaction Cycles Mavic) sits just a few points behind, and was second here last year. GT Factory Racing’s Martin Maes could also pose a threat. He placed second in Madeira and is in third position in the overall standings. And no one should discount reigning overall champ Richie Rude (Yeti/Fox Shox Factory Racing). He’s yet to take a win this year and will be hungry for points if he is to defend his title.
In the women’s race Cecile Ravanel (Commencal Vallnord Enduro Team) is as dominant as ever. The Frenchwoman may have had to settle for second place behind Isabeau Courdurier (Sunn) at round two in Tasmania, but she stormed to victory in Madeira to win the race by over a minute. However, Courdurier will be hot on her tail as these two continue their battle that has raged all season.
Other names to watch out for include Ines Thoma (Canyon Factory Enduro Team) who lies second in the series, and Katy Winton (Trek Factory Racing Team) who sits third. Israeli privateer Noga Korem came from nowhere to end up on the third step of the podium in Madeira and is definitely capable of mixing things up again this weekend.
In the U21 category all eyes will be on last year’s winner Killian Callaghan, who is currently tied on points at the top of the table with Vojtech Blaha. Martha Gill has a clear lead in the U21 Women’s race, but lost out on the win in Madeira to EWS rookie Estelle Charles, so expect some fierce rivalry between these two on Sunday.
Mary McConneloug (Intense) leads out the Master’s Women with a convincing points lead, but will have local riders Orla McClean and Sophie Bagnal chasing her down. In the Master Men Karim Amour (BH-Miranda Racing) leads, followed by Nigel Page (Chain Reaction Cycles Mavic) in second and reigning Champ Michael Broderick in third.
The team competition is closer than ever with Ibis Cycles Enduro Race Team just out in front of Canyon Factory Enduro and GT Factory Racing.
This year’s race also incorporates an EWS Challenger event on Saturday. The Challenger will see amateurs race four of Sunday’s stages to get a taste of an EWS without any of the pressure, before getting to watch the pros hit the very same trails the next day.
For more info head over to www.enduroworldseries.com.