The Enduro World Series, the world cup of enduro sport, if you want to call it that, will start its second season next weekend. With seven races on three different continents, the series not only combines different cultures, but also completely different race formats and track conditions await the drivers.
The start of the EWS 2014 will take place in Nevados de Chillan / Chile. Chile is still a bit new on the enduro map, but at the latest with the Andes Pacifico, a multi-day enduro race, proved that you don't need to hide behind nations like Italy and France.
The first riders used a local enduro race last weekend to adjust to the weather and surface conditions. Jerome Clementz was again the one to beat. He lived up to his role as a favorite and won ahead of Nicolas Lau. The two quick Frenchmen will certainly be two of the hottest contenders for one of the seven wins. But Jared Graves and Martin Maes will also be hungry this year.
Jerome Clementz – He is the Muhamed Ali of Enduro sport. No other rider won more stages last year, so it's no surprise that Clementz already bagged overall victory at the Enduro of Nations in Val d'Isere, the penultimate round of the 2013 EWS. As in the previous year, the fast Frenchman will be on Cannondale. Throughout the winter he tested a new prototype of his favorite Jekyll frame, which he will use with 650B wheels for the first time this year. He proved that he masters the slightly larger wheels perfectly with the Andes Pacifico, which he won.
Jared Graves – Graves is one of the best all-rounders in the world. Olympic finalist in the BMX Race 2008 in Beijing, 4X world champion and experienced downhill pilot, Graves is a serious opponent in all disciplines. Luck wasn't always on his side in 2013. Nonetheless, he was Clementz's closest opponent and finished an excellent second at the end of the season. During the winter, Graves was mostly seen on XC bikes. He secured the Australian Champion title in XCE and finished second in XC. He's going into the new season fitter and hungrier than ever and will certainly outclass the competition at one point or another.
Martin Maas – As a junior, Maes competed in the Enduro World Series last season. The young Belgian won his category with ease. The big sensation, however, was his times compared to the elite men. Maes managed to place in the top 3 of the elite several times and was even able to win a stage. With Dan Atherton from the GT Factory Racing Team, he has a fast and, above all, experienced team-mate at his side. Together they will certainly be good for one or the other surprise.
Fabien Barel – Multiple downhill world champion, overall World Cup winner and a true mountain bike legend. Fabien Barel has been one of the fastest drivers in the world for many years. And it is also a guarantee for success in Enduro. He held the Canyon flag high with the opening win in Punta Ala last year. With two third places and one fourth, he finished third in the overall standings.
Nicholas Lau – The little Frenchman from the Cube Action Team is motivated for the new EWS season. Things didn't go so well for him last year. Although Lau was able to achieve some very good individual results, he lacked the consistency that it takes to get on the podium. Especially in Finale Ligure, Lau is a force. In 2013 he outclassed his competition here, but did not make it onto the podium due to a time penalty. This year he seems perfectly prepared. At the first stop of the Bluegrass Enduro Tour, he won in front of some of the fastest riders and also finished second behind Clementz in Chile a week ago.
From a German point of view, Petrik Brückner deserves a special mention. The young Thuringian was the fastest German last year and has big plans for the new year. However, Max Schumann and Tobias Woggon will be hot on his heels and their best will give him the title Germany's fastest Enduro pilot to dispute.
In the women's field, expect a tough battle between Anne-Carline Chausson and Tracey Moseley. Much like Clementz and Graves, they dominated the women's category, with Moseley finishing better. But Cecil Ravanel and the fast Dutchwoman Anneke Beerten should not be underestimated either. Both have shown good pace several times and should be serious opponents.
The conditions in Chile are only partially comparable to those in Europe. The climate is much wetter and warmer so some drivers will certainly find it difficult to stay focused. First and foremost, loose ground, volcanic sand and natural trails await the riders.