What a cracker of an opening round

The mountain bike racing season is getting into full swing now that the EWS has kicked off. Here are the key takeaways from this hot Chile starter.

>>> Poll: Who will win this year’s Enduro World Series men’s title?

Okay, let’s just get this thing out of the way first…

1. Sam Hill isn’t satisfied

Whilst the above Instavid is indeed one of the most glorious things of 2018 so far, it doesn’t actually show Hill at his fastest. He didn’t win Stage 1 (where this vid was shot). Richie Rude did. But Hill did take the win for EWS Round 1 and was either 1st or 2nd on every Stage. Far from relaxing now he’s proved his point last year by winning the overall series title, Sam Hill now really, really doesn’t want to let that No.1 plate go.

Pic: Enduro World Series

2. Ravanel keeps calm and carries on

Cecile Ravanel nearly won all Stages of the Chile EWS. It was only a mechanical that prevented her from winning Stage 9. Mechanicals and ill-timed punctures just before the start of another stage would have disrupted anyone else’s race day. Not Ravanel. She just whammed her tyre pressure up to 36psi and dealt with it. Once again, the women’s EWS is not for anyone else to win, it’s Ravanel’s to lose. Here’s hoping her dabbling in World Cup DH doesn’t foul things up somewhow.

Pic: Enduro World Series

3. When Richie Rude doesn’t puncture…

… he wins. Well, not quite but almost. Is Rude still running Cushcore inserts? Whatever the answer, it looks like Rude and sharp rocks don’t get along so well. The question will forever be asked: do punctures spoil racing, or are punctures part of racing?

Pic: Enduro World Series

4. The industry is (slowly) getting behind women’s pro enduro

There are a total of eleven women with pro support at the 2018 Enduro World Series. While this number pales in comparison with the men’s field it is still heartening to see. And it should ensure that the women’s racing is more tightly battled than ever before with less off-track issues messing with previously privateer racers’ focus.

Pic: Enduro World Series

5. American bike brands have gone full enduro

Although arguably it’s non-American riders that dominate the EWS results and podiums, it’s clear that American bike brands are fully behind enduro racing at a professional level. They clearly see it as well worth supporting enduro racing in order to flog more and more of their bikes with EWS results being the proof behind their puddings. Obviously Ibis were in early on the EWS scene and are reaping the rewards of increased customer interest. Intense Cycles‘ new sponsorship of Isabeau Coudurier (previously on Sunn) is a significant move in this regard too.

Pic: Enduro World Series

6. Chile is rather intense

From the longest Stage ever seen in the history of the Enduro World Series (Stage 2’s 11km monster) through to the wildest looking bikepark we’ve ever seen and the bonkers “anti-grip” of the high mountainscape terrain, Chile is now firmly established as the wildest EWS venue on the calendar.

ibis ripmo

7. That Ripmo works then

Ibis riders Bex Baraona and Robin Wallner both posted their best results ever in an Enduro World Series race. Obviously this is predominantly due to their riding prowess but it won’t exactly hurt interest in Ibis’ new Ripmo 29er enduro bike.

Pic: Enduro World Series

8. Maes is the one to watch

GT’s Martin Maes is Mr Consistent. Surely Sam Hill can’t race a full season of EWS at the insane 110% level he raced this round? Never say never with Hill though eh? Should Hill falter at any part, our (imaginary) money is on Martin Maes to sneak in and take the overall series win.