There was never much doubt about the final outcome. After sweeping the opening day’s three stages, Jared Graves (Specialized) and Cecile Ravanel (Commencal Vallnord Enduro) continued their dominance on day 2 of the Aspen-Snowmass stop of the Enduro World Series, each walking away with convincing wins.
Graves opened Sunday’s racing with two more stage wins, before putting it in cruise control for the sixth and final stage of EWS round No. 2. When the dust had settled, the Aussie was 42 seconds better than second placed Nico Lau (Cube Action Team). Cannondale Factory Team rider Jerome Clementz slotted third, at 0:45.
This was Graves’ first win of the season, which is his first as a member of the Big Red S after a long haul under the Yeti Cycles banner, which included the 2014 EWS overall title and a second place finish in the series’ inaugural year in 2013. He attributed this year’s slow start to a mix of injuries and bad luck that’s included two snapped chains, several flat tires, and even a busted wheel.
“It was just a lot of random bad luck,” he said. “It was about time things turned around… I like racing at altitude and I’m always comfortable and confident in Colorado. I liked the stages and thought they had a good mix. After I went well on stage 1, it gave me confidence and I rode like I knew I could.”
Things sort of turned for Graves’ old teammate and overall series leader, Richie Rude. After finishing 41st on the opening day, the Yeti rider clawed his way back into 25th place at the end of the weekend, bolstered by a 3rd place finish on the marathon stage 4, which was the longest in EWS history at 5.3 miles. Graves’ winning time was a leg crushing 16 minutes, 45 seconds. Rude finished in 17:03. But the young rider was unable to keep the second day momentum going, slotting 29th and 19th on the final two stages, clearly still feeling the effects of a hard crash in Thursday’s practice round that resulted in a separated shoulder.
The net effect was a major tightening in the overall series standings. Rude is now just 210 points ahead of Damien Oton (Devinci), who was seventh overall in Colorado. Clementz’s strong effort at Snowmass bumped him into third with three events to go. Despite the win here, Graves is just 27th overall, having only scored points in three of five events thus far.
There was no such tightening on the women’s side of the ledger, as overall EWS series leader Ravanel continued to be the class of the field. She won all five stages in Colorado, as the women didn’t race the final stage Sunday due to a lengthy crash-caused course hold. Despite not contesting stage 6, the Frenchwoman still put 1:16 into second placed Anita Gehrig (Ibis Cycles), with Isabeau Courdurier (SUNN) another four seconds back.
“It was difficult with the altitude and the physical stages,” said Ravanel about the thin Rocky Mountain air. Racers were regularly above 10,000 feet all weekend.
Her fifth win in five tries helped Ravanel stretch her lead in the overall standings to 320 points. Courdurier is second, with Gehrig in third.
Casey Brown (Trek Factory Racing) was the top North American finisher in fourth, while up-and-comer Cooper Dendel was best of the U.S. contingent in 9th.
In the U21 men’s competition, Adrien Dailly (Lapierre Gravity Republic) came out on top. In the U21 women it was a USA sweep with Samantha Soranio in first, Lia Westermann second, and Abby Hobbs third. In the master’s men American Michael Broderick was first, with Joe Lawwill and Randal Huntington in second and third respectively. In the team competition, Rocky Mountain Urge bp came out on top, Ibis Cycles Race Enduro was second, and Specialized took third.
The EWS now takes a two-week break, before resuming in Whistler, British Columbia, on August 14. For more from Sunday, check out more photos on page 2. All photos are courtesy Enduro World Series unless otherwise noted.