Enduro World Series 2018 - Round 3 - France

May 13 — 2018 | Montagnes du Caroux, France

The Round Three race dispatch from the Enduro World Series from our Do'er O' Things and Sports Marketing Manager, Allan Cooke.

It’s enduro time again and this week the team headed to a new venue and a new location in the mountains of Olargues in the southern part of France. This part of the country is beautiful, and the buzz in the air and around the venue was undeniable. It’s easy to see why the EWS organizers chose this location for round three.

The usual suspects were on hand to race and there were some new additions too. Besides Mark, Iago, and Mitch, we’re stoked to be supporting Craig Evans, Sam Dale, and Francois Bailly-Maitre (FBM) and Factory Racing rider and Showroom employee Nic Bean as well. It was a big crew, and everyone was excited to get into practice.

Had to get your fill of brown pow early. The rain started the afternoon of day one.

First: Title says it all... or maybe it's the lake. Second: The Ropo is back. Third: Do You Even Lounge? Fourth: Craig wore his Sunday best to the pits.

The two days of practice stretched across eight stages and everything went well. The team got into the rhythm of the rocky, steep, and technical tracks, the bikes were on point (no mechanicals or major crashes), and everyone’s confidence was high when Saturday rolled around. It was time to get between the tape, on the clock, and into the rain.

This was the first EWS race of the season for Craig Evans and Sam Dale. With World Cup downhill experience under their belts, both of the guys were comfortable right from the get-go, and they had the confidence needed to attack athe endless tech and gnarly rock sections. Craig had a great race with his best stage coming on stage 7 with a 30th, the second to last stage of the race. The heavy rains kept things interesting on day two but Craig was able to finish in 40th overall against a stacked field of Enduro racers.

DH line-hunting skills paid off in the sharp and choppy.

Track surgery in the woods. Sam Dale Scrubbing in.

Sam had an amazing race with his results improved throughout the race and him finding his enduro legs, Sam was consistent, fast, and managed his equipment well enough to finish 18th overall.  No one has ever doubted Sam’s skills on a bike, he has put in the time to add solid fitness to his program and it showed here in France. We are all looking forward to seeing Sam and Craig later in the season at more EWS races.

Earlier this year Mitch announced that he was going to focus on a full season of racing EWS, and it surprised alot of people. He’s arguably the most talented overall bike rider on the planet, and the EWS is his next challenge. He’s is still trying to find consistency on the circuit; so many things have to go your way and there so many close calls and disasters to avoid. It takes time to be consistent on the EWS stage, and Mitch is fully capable.

After a Day One that included stage results in the 40’s and even the 60’s, Mitch was able to ride to an amazing comeback on day two. He posted two top 10’s and a few top 20 stage finishes; enough to secure 16th in the overall. It seems that Mitch is getting more comfortable as the season goes on and with five more races to go, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him land on a podium before the season is said and done.

The focus of a man fully committed to EWS racing this season.

It was great to have French rider FBM in the Santa Cruz pits for this race. He’s been racing the EWS series since its inception in 2014 but with Trans racing taking up more of his time, this was his first round of the year. With FBM finishing 17th, right between Sam and Mitch, it was a Santa Cruz sandwich, and he was able to show the whole EWS contingent that he hasn’t slowed down a bit.

Nic Bean was another new addition to the Santa Cruz pit in France. If you demoed a bike from the Factory recently, there’s a good chance he was the one who set up your ride for you. In 2017 Nic raced with the team at Aspen and at the EWS race in Whistler but this year he’s making a go for the overall; the Jr. World Champ title. The EWS made a new rule for 2018 that only the best five finishes of eight races will count for the Junior Overall; financially this is great for up and coming riders, it allows them to compete on the world stage.

First race of the season and 18th place in Juniors for Nic Bean. That feels good.

The plan for Nic’s first race of his 2018 campaign? Start slow, don’t rush things, and finish the race. No matter where you finish, this gives you something to build on. A DNF is starting all over and no one wants that. With each and every stage, Nic’s results got better and better. He didn’t break the bike, he didn’t break himself, and he finished 18th in a stacked field of 70 Junior riders. He followed the plan to perfection; more than something to build on, it was a great start to his season. He’s already stoked for the next race when he can test everything he learned this week in France.

After a DNF in Chile and a tough round of racing in the mud in Colombia, Iago was really looking to build some momentum this week. Despite feeling good on day one, it wasn’t to be. He felt good but still finished 67th and he was left scratching his head. Something clicked on day two though, and he was able to find more speed and claw back into 31st by the end of the weekend. If he can put together a whole race there’s no reason why he won’t be consistently in the top 20. The good news is that Iago is walking away healthy and confident that things have turned around for him in 2018.

It all clicked for Iago on day two.

Mark rolled into France in seventh in the overall EWS standings. As good as that feels, it’s not where he wants to be. He came to France to lay it all down in hopes of nothing but improvement and that’s exactly what he did. In the past Mark’s been notorious for slow starts, but that all changed this week; he started Day One with a 12th followed by an 8th and then a 13th. Sitting in 6th overall at the start of Day Two, Mark came out swinging with a 7th place for the first stage of the day and his best of the race. While the wet conditions played havoc on the competition, Mark just smiled and went on his way; because as wet as it is, he’s used to riding in hail in Scotland.

The small things make a big difference on race day.

Gotta play it close to go fast, and Mark played his cards right on both days.

Perhaps his confidence was a bit too high, he had big get offs on the final two stages of the day but was able to walk away healthy and with 7th overall for the week. Better yet Mark’s consistency has him sitting in 5th place in the overall series standings just 20 points behind 4th, Mark just seems to be getting stronger and with over half the season still in front of us the stoke is high to keep building.

- AC

Austria/Slovenia is up next. See you in Petzen - Jamnica.


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