Over 500 riders from almost every nation will set up camp in the outdoor paddock at Punta Ala beachside resort, in Maremma on the southern tip of Tuscany, over the weekend of May 18-19, to take part in the first race of the seven-stop inaugural Enduro World Series.
The 62km course will offer 1,600 vertical metres of climbing over five to six hours of riding with a total of 20 minutes of racing. Organizers also boast excellent coffee to start the day and wine to finish it. It is Italy, after all.
Race organiser and SuperEnduro founder Enrico Guala said of the "over-sold-out" event, "On top of the 100 EWS riders, there are the best 20 riders from the most developed enduro ‘nations' and a lot of 'not so well known' riders who could surprise everybody."
That surprise factor is what excites Enduro World Series Managing Director Chris Ball the most. "This is the first time ever that the experienced enduro specialists like [Jerome] Clementz go head-to-head with top World Cup legends and it's the first time in many years that Nico [Vouilloz] will race against Peaty, Minnaar, Barel [Steve Peat, Greg Minnaar and Fabien Barel - ed.]. It's a meeting of minds and clashing of titans! There's no telling how this is going to pan out."
Five stages plus a downtown prologue will showcase the best trails of the region, from the cobblestoned passageways of the medieval town citadel, to the singletrack of the surrounding cork and pine forests, through dense scrub and rolling hills down to a strip of golden sand on the Mediterranean.
"The first part of the course has stages more suited to the skilful rider, while the second part suits the more powerful rider," predicted Guala. "Race strategy, 'clean' riding, energy management and tactics will be the winning mix."
In addition, stage 3 of the race, "Rock-Oh", is a time rush stage, offering an added dose of excitement for both the riders and the public.
"It's both a privilege and pressure to be kicking off the Enduro World Series," said Guala. "We have been running Superenduro for six years and we feel ready for the #EWS1. When I look back at 2007, the day that my partner, Franco Monchiero, (Superenduro inventor and Race Director), called me with the idea, it seems like it was just last week."
"The last seven months of my life, since Chris Ball, Fred Glo and Darren Kinnaird and I started to talk about organising this World Series, have been super exciting and the support of riders, industry, venue and teams has been incredible. 2013 is absolutely the 'game changer' year for the riders who have been competing in different 'enduro' events in the last few years. They can now count on a global series that brings them all together for the chance to be crowned Enduro World Champion."
From Punta Ala, the Enduro World Series will move to the French Alps; Whistler, Canada; and Colorado, USA, before returning to Finale Ligure, Italy, October 19-20 for seventh and final leg of the series and the crowning of the inaugural Enduro World Champion.
"The seven stops of the Enduro World Series represent the efforts of many people who have been working at different levels to create events that are focused on riders and the pleasure of riding the best venues and the best trails in the world. The first Enduro World Series is a great step for us all," said Guala.