Sweat, tears (of joy) and an eventful time – after around ten months, the first season is coming to an end for us. Six months have passed since the team, thanks to frontman Fabien Barel, clinched their historic victory at the opening race of the inaugural Enduro World Series (EWS) in Punta Ala, Italy. Last weekend, all drivers gathered in Finale Ligure for the last time of the year to celebrate the end of an eventful season at the grand finale of the EWS with full passion and combined forces. One number in particular played a decisive role: 3. Fabien Barel started in the final with start number 3, finished 3rd and thus also secured 3rd place in the final EWS overall men-Overall ranking. An excellent 3rd place in the EWS overall team- There was also an overall ranking for us as the Canyon Factory Enduro Team. Two podium places in the final EWS classification after the first season - if that isn't a dream start!
While the overall EWS winners were already certain after round 6 in Val d'Isere, France, things got really exciting for Ines Thoma and Fabien Barel towards the end of the season. The sympathetic, ambitious woman from the Allgäu was in a neck-and-neck race with Anneke Beerten from the Netherlands for fourth place overall. Securing this place was Ines' declared goal, but not exactly an easy one. And despite his phenomenal win in Punta Ala, Fabien also had to give it his all to secure third place in the overall ranking.
Even during training, it became apparent that this last race should suit the technically strong drivers of our team. The partly deep dusty routes were peppered with all kinds of treacherous stone fields, heels and merciless downhill passages. What was supposed to benefit the team in theory, turned out to be a big challenge in the race. In the first two stages, the drivers Joe Barnes, Maxi Dickerhoff and Marco Bühler were dogged by bad luck, which they were only able to shake off in the third section. This fast, but very narrow passage led the drivers through a barely visible thicket of Mediterranean macchia. The rapid changes of direction, the tight switchbacks and the loose ground required the drivers to have maximum concentration and technical finesse. All four team drivers remaining in the race mastered the special stage with first-class times.
Unfortunately, the race, scheduled for two days and a total of six stages, had to be stopped prematurely after the third. Due to a serious and tragic crash, the race directors decided to withdraw the last of the four special stages scheduled for Saturday. The team had enough time to collect themselves, to recharge their batteries and to prepare thoroughly for the next, all-important day of racing.
The tactics worked out the night before turned out to be very accurate on the day of the grand finale. The day started just as well as it ended on Stage 3. Ines, Fabien, Joe and Marco again managed to prove their class - even if a good overall result for Joe and Marco was hardly possible due to the bitter loss of time the day before.
The last two passages were lined with spectators who followed the race from stage to stage in their cars, as is usual in cycling enthusiasts in Italy, and made a pilgrimage to the most exciting key points to cheer on their idols from the track bike. For the first time since the sale of the CFET fan jersey started recently, the fans of the team could also be seen in the same outfit at the edge of the track. Last but not least, this motivating encouragement is likely to have ensured that Fabien and Ines achieved their initial goals.
Fabien was called onto the podium five times late on Sunday evening. Starting with his second place in the over 30 category in the SuperEnduro rating, through his third place in the men's SuperEnduro rating, to the three crucial third places in the EWS #7 ratings Men, EWS overall men and EWS overall team. Even though Ines Thoma's two fourth places in the EWS #7 Women and EWS overall women were not honored individually, she and her teammates still had the honor of stepping onto the podium with the team ranking.
With this excellent result we are ending our first season and are already looking forward to next year!