So the Enduro World Series has finally started, stages have been run and times have been put down in the loose volcanic dirt. Looking at the first 3 stages, we can now get a good idea where everyone is sitting, where riders are strong and perhaps get our first indications of how the series may roll out.
Stage 1 was always going to suit loose and aggressive riders, the deep moon dust at the top stalling riders who lack momentum. Any mistake here will be costly, taking time to get back up to speed. After the deep dust it is down onto the bike park style lower section where speeds go right up. This stage is all about power and loose aggression, and it was perhaps no surprise to see Martin Maes take the top spot with a time of 3:29:73, a huge confidence booster for the young talent. With just over a second separating positions 1-3, times were really tight. It was Florian Nicolai who came in second just 0.2 of seconds behind with a time of 3:29:99, and Jerome was not letting the young gun get to far ahead with a time of 3:30:83. Fabien Barel had a huge crash on stage, scuppering his chances for victory in Round 1
In the women’s category, Anne Caro has come out of winter swinging, stealing a significant time margin from our current World Champion Tracy Moseley with a time of 3:53:99. Tracy Moseley had to settle with losing over 10 seconds to Anne Caro with a time of 4:04:14. Reflecting the trend of last year it was no surprise to see Cecile Ravanel mixing it up in the top three with a time of 4:08:78. This was only a short stage and Stage 2 was much longer, this stage would be all about fitness.
After the grueling climb back to the top of Stage 2 riders tried their best to recover from the 1 hour hike. This is a stage that would be won on the pedals, super fast and open, crazy speeds can be hit on the top section, before mixing it up in the highly technical lower trails. When you speak of power and fitness, one rider jumps to the fore, and it was perhaps no surprise to see Jared Graves smash the field on this stage by over 12 seconds with a time of 10:30:22. Jerome did all he could to limit the damage, and set the second fastest time with a 10:42:42. Florian Nicolai showed consistency to come in with a time of 10:44:43. Martin Maes could not keep up his first round performance, dropping off the pace on the longer stage with a time of 10:56:11 leaving him in 10th.
Again Anne Caro put down a blisteringly fast time to further her lead by 13 seconds, coming in at 11:48:37, Tracy again held of the rest of the field with a time of 12:01:87, this time is was Anneke Beerten who was hustling for third with a time of 12:13:42.
Stage 3 was another fast one, short and full-gas all the way! And BOOM! Cedric Gracia is back! The peoples champion and walking advert to modern medicine set an amazing time of 3:37:70 to take the exclusive stage win. It is great to see Cedric back on his game and on pace. It is also great to see Rene Wildhaber taking second with 3:39:12 and Jared Graves in third with 3:39.98. Jerome held on for 6th and at the end of day 1 the mens race is wide open.
Tracy found her speed on this stage taking the win at 4:04:48, but it would not be enough of a margin to pull back the huge margin that Anne Caro had created (her time was 4:07:27), again with Anneke in 3rd with a time of 4:10:87.
So the first day has finally been run and we have our goalposts. We are only half way through the race and Jared Graves has pulled out an 11 second lead over rival Jerome. However, with Martin Maes winning Stage 1 and Cedric Stage 2, it just goes to show how tight the competition has now become, the 2014 season will not be a one horse race! In the women’s category Anne Caro has an incredible 21 second lead, will Tracy be able to pull back such a big margin? So going into day two, both second placed racers from 2013 have pulled ahead, is this a sign of their motivation and focused winter training!
For full results check out the live timing stream!
Words: Trev Worsey Photos: Matt Wragg
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