Enduro World Series 2018 - Round 7 - Ainsa

September 24 — 2018 | Ainsa, Spain

Our man-on-the-ground and Sports Marketing Manager Allan Cooke gave us the recap of the seventh stop of 2018 Enduro World Series. Read on for more.

Last weekend the crew headed to Ainsa, Spain for the first of back-to-back rounds that wrap up the 2018 EWS season. After a bit of a break from racing since the last round in Whistler, the guys were rested and ready to send it over the next couple weeks. Mark Scott, Iago Garay, Mitch Ropelato, Sam Dale and Nic Bean (fresh out of the Santa Cruz HQ showroom) were all on hand and based out of the Santa Cruz pit.

Listen to pre-race interviews with the boys right here (pre-race day 2 audio is further down):

Do'er O' things and the guy that keeps the EWS program rolling, Allan Cooke. 

Ainsa had some amazing views and massive mountains - one thing the riders battled over the weekend in Spain was the heat. From day one of training till the final time checks, the temps were scorching. Big props go out to the Enduro World Series and Zero Zona Teams for making sure all the water stations never ran out all week, and with over 300 racers and 7 total stages, it was a critical job for sure.

There were two days of training followed by two days of racing that included four stages on Saturday and three stages on Sunday. The training days went well and just as everyone was getting up to speed and comfortable on the dry Ainsa surface, Sambo tweaked his ankle a bit. It swelled up pretty good but he's tough and was fit enough to continue riding. The overall feel from the riders was that day one was more more physical and the second day was more technical.

This was Sam’s second EWS race of the season. He was in Olarge, France (a few rounds back) and had an impressive 18th overall finish amidst the hardest race of the season so far. Not long before the race in La Thuile, Sambo had a big crash at the Val di Sole World Cup downhill during a practice run. The broken ribs he sustained kept him out of that round (at La Thuille) but he was healed and ready to get back on the clock by the time Ainsa rolled around... at least until the ankle.

The twisted ankle suffered during training would hold Sam back a bit but with the bruising set in and a proper tape job (Thanks, GT Physio) he was able to ride into a top 50 with a 45th place overall and a 28th on 2 for his best stage finish of the weekend. Playing it a bit safe was a good call, Sam was able to finish without further injuring the ankle and he was already looking forward to racing next weekend in Finale.

The young gun, Nic Bean, stepping up to the big stage this year. 

Nic Bean, the 19 year old Junior from the Factory Racing Team, is still finding his legs at international races. The competition and tracks at this level are like nothing else you find in the US, but that's totally what the Junior ranks are all about. You find out who you are as a racer and you find out what works and what doesn't. Taking each moment as a chance to learn and then rolling with the punches—and Nic had some punches thrown his way yet again early in the race—like in Whistler, it was on Stage 2 where a slight miscalculation would result in a big crash.

“I was back on my feet just as fast as I had crashed, a spectator asked if I was okay and mentioned that it was a big crash, I looked for my bike and there were two other spectators unjamming my derailleur, I answered finally yeah I'm all good. It was a big one for sure, got lucky there.” After that Nic decided to push reset and just ride as smooth as possible and build the speed from there. He spent the second half of the race rebuilding to a place where he can hopefully finish off his first EWS season strong in Finale.

40th in the Junior overall was the result in Ainsa but more importantly, valuable lessons were learned.

Perfect place to fuel up and make sure your bike is buttery smooth.

Mitch Ropelato rode well all week and finished 22nd in the overall. This is his first full season racing on the EWS, and he still putting all the pieces together and beginning to find consistency with his last three results; all of which were in the top 25. There's just one race left on the calendar and Mitch is sitting in 20th place in the overall... right where it would be a great accomplishment to stay for his first full season. I expect a strong finish from Mitch; he’s due for a breakout race and the typically dry conditions in Finale will suit his strengths.

The stoke is high after a top 20 finish for Iago in his home country. 

Iago had one of the best races of his EWS career. Ainsa is his home country race and the Spanish fans didn't let him down. “The fans were cheering so loud, I could hear them cheering for me before I even made it to a section. Oh man, that was so sick, it made me push so much harder. They helped me get this top 20 for sure.”

Iago was super consistent and his best stage finish was a 14th. “I really feel good on my bike right now and my fitness seems to be coming around too,” Iago said before the race had started. Let's hope that this week's 20th place will continue to build his confidence for a strong finish in Finale. 

Mark Scott currently 6th overall in the EWS standings as we head to Finale for the final stop. 

Mark had another steady race here in Spain. He was able to finish in 13th overall (which moves him to 6th in the overall standings) despite a crash on stage one, a damaged chain on stage six, and a feeling that his runs were lacking intensity.

“The pace is so fast, everyone is pushing it so hard out there and accepting a lot of risk setting that pace. I just need to send it a bit more and accept mistakes will happen and it will all be okay.”  That's a veteran mentality, one that’s been shaped at every round and every stage in the history of the Enduro World Series. This is a series that has always finished in Finale, so Mark knows what lies ahead of him, what he needs to do to have another podium finish, and what it's going to take to get himself back to the season goal of finishing in the top 5 overall for 2018. Sitting in 6th, he's just off that goal. 

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