Just seven months after the creation of an Enduro World Series was announced, the first round took place over the May 18-19 weekend in Punta Ala, Italy. Over 500 riders from every mountain bike discipline and many nations arrived to take part in the highly anticipated race.
Locals from the seaside resort came out in force to experience the opening night time trial, the prologue, and witnessed the world's fastest riders tear through the rain-slicked medieval cobblestone streets of Castiglione della Pescaia. France's Alex Cure (Urge Team) and Anne Caroline Chausson (Ibis) finished the prologue in the top position.
The podium results indicate what a true test of the all-round rider enduro racing is, with French downhill champion Fabien Barel (Canyon Factory Team), French enduro specialist Jerome Clementz (Cannondale Overmountain) and Australian BMX Olympian and 4X World Champion Jared Graves (Yeti-Fox Factory Team) taking the top three places. Narrowly missing the podium was 16 year old Belgian rider, Martin Maes (GT Factory Racing).
While Clementz took an early lead, winning Sunday’s first stage, Barel put in the performance of the race on the longest, most technical trail, the race's second stage and special time rush, where he took a 13-second lead.
Former downhill world champion and enduro racer, Tracy Moseley from the UK (Trek Factory Racing) beat out another former world champion Emmeline Ragot from France (Lapierre International) and cross country Olympian Cecile Ravanel from France (GT Skoda) in the women's field.
For Managing Director of the EWS, Chris Ball, the event had the perfect mix of epic clashes of top athletes, drama and challenge with riders posting World Cup downhill speeds, Instagramming during the liaison stages, and big names like Chausson and Nico Lau crashing out, Vouilloz racing to maintain a decent overall position after a puncture, and Cedric Gracia snapping his chain at the start of stage 4 and having to run his bike through the entire stage and 10km liaison before picking up a replacement chain for the final stage.
Combined with the spectacular setting, great hospitality from the organisers, perfect trail-ending on the beach by the Mediterranean, and intrigue from the pits as prototype bikes and gear set-ups were tested out, the amazing vibe of the weekend set the bar for the Enduro World Series' debut.
"The riders took enduro to a whole new level today and the racing was some of the most exciting I have ever followed," said Ball.
"We have a lot to learn and a lot to develop both in the following 2013 rounds and in the years to come, but I feel that this weekend marked a whole new chapter in enduro history. We couldn't have asked for a better start and I greatly thank all of our members and supporters for allowing this historic race to happen here in Punta Ala."
The first Enduro World Champions will be crowned at the end of the seven-race series, which heads next to Val D'Allos, France, where riders will be met with chairlifts for uplift and a slightly different format that will provide another opportunity to test riders in the quest for the most versatile all-round mountain bike athlete in the world.