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The enduro mountain bike racing community is headed south, massing in Chile for the first round of the 2014 Enduro World Series (EWS)this weekend, April 19-20.
Against the backdrop and thin air of the Nevados de Chillan volcano, the enduro course will drop from the steaming vents and high altitude of the volcanic cone around Chile's Nevados de Chillan Bike Park to the densely forested valley floor.
Many international EWS riders, as well as leading South American athletes, acclimatised at the host organiser's first race in La Parva last week, where reigning EWS World Champion, Jérôme Clementz (Cannondale Overmountain), took the win, just ahead of Nico Lau (Cube Action Team).
Montenbaik Enduro, the hosts, have spearheaded the growth of enduro in South America over the past six years. Media Director Eduardo de Solminihac is confident that that experience will ensure "that our staff and our Montenbaiker community will give riders and media from all over the world the best experience this weekend. We are very excited to have a MTB world series in Chile for the first time, and to show our best trails."
In response to feedback and learnings acquired over the EWS' debut season, the Enduro Mountain Bike Association (EMBA) released an updated Rule Book on April 8, (available for download on http://www.enduroworldseries.com/rules.php.)
"Everyone's constructive feedback has been incredibly valuable to us and we hope that these alterations continue to define and develop enduro mountain bike racing into the future," said Enduro World Series Managing Director, Chris Ball, of the release. Highlights include new measures to ensure the environmental impact of the Series is mitigated, by banning goggle tear-offs and food-caching.
The six-stage race will see a combination of chairlift riding, uphill walking and approximately 1,000m of climbing each day with winning GC (overall) times expected to be within the 40-45 minute range. Check out the stage maps. http://montenbaik.com/2014/04/horarios-circuitos-y-reglamento-enduro-world-series-en-nevados-de-chillan-2014/
With Jerome Clementz (Cannondale) fresh from his La Parva victory, and EWS 2013 podium-mates Jared Graves (Yeti Fox Shox) and Fabien Barel (Canyon Factory Enduro Team) eyeing his world champion armband, the margins are likely to be close.
The junior race is wide open, with 2013 champion Martin Maes (GT Factory Racing) opting to compete in the elite category this season, despite his age. (He turned 17 in January.) Nineteen-year-old 2013 junior downhill world champion, Richie Rude (Yeti Fox Shox), adds another dose of young blood to the contest.
Women's defending enduro world champion, Tracy Moseley (Trek Factory Racing), comes to Nevados de Chillan after a strong performance in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, in her first World Cup cross country race. Her strongest challenger, Anne Caroline Chausson (Ibis Cycles), whose 2013 EWS debut was marred by an early injury, has kicked off her season with a win in La Parva.
The Chile round is the first of seven rounds of the 2014 EWS.
"I can't think of a better location or better team to kick start the second year of the Enduro World Series with. With some news rules and a tighter points structure, the next seven months are going to see some jaw dropping enduro racing and we can't wait to see what unfolds," said Ball.