As the EWS heads into the last half of the 2018 season, it’s back to Italy for La Thuile Enduro World Series #5.
Nestled beneath the iconic Mont Blanc, this sport driven Alpine resort is home to some of the finest single track anywhere in Europe. This is the third time the series has visited La Thuile, and with good reason - it’s a rider favourite and was voted the Pinkbike Enduro Race of the Year when the series last visited in 2016.
This year’s race will feature six stages, a perfect mix of classic and fresh trails with over 5000 metres of descent, with riders accessing them through a combination of pedal, chairlift and hike-a-bike liaisons.
In the women’s race it’s the ever dominant Cecile Ravanel (Commencal Vallnord Enduro Racing Team) who will take to the start line as the hot favourite - she’s won all four races so far this season. However, second placed Isabeau Courdurier (Intense-Mavic Collective) will be hoping Ravanel’s podium finish at the Vallnord Downhill World Cup last weekend may have sapped some energy and allow her to beat her fellow Frenchwoman. Katy Winton (Trek Factory Racing) sits third in the overall rankings and will be looking for podium finish after an uncharacteristic sixth place at round four.
Sam Hill (Chain Reaction Cycles Mavic) remains the man to beat in the men’s race - the reigning champion has three wins to his name already this season to be out front in the series points. After a strong performance at round four Robin Wallner (Ibis Cycles Enduro Race Team) is sitting in second in the overall, but is sitting this round out, allowing third placed Damien Oton (Unior Devinci Factory Racing) an opportunity to claw back some points. And they'll all be in the sights of fourth placed Martin Maes (GT Factory Racing) - who was just a few seconds off clinching the win at round four.
In the U21 Men Hill’s team mate Elliot Heap (Chain Reaction Cycles Mavic) put on a blistering performance at the last round to extend his lead in the points, with Cole Lucas (Cube Action Team) 200 points back in second and Nathan Secondi of France in third. The UK’s Ella Conolly will be looking to maintain her clean sweep in the U21 Women, with Abigail Lawton in second and Emma Bateup in third.
Reigning Master’s Champion and points leader Karim Amour (Miranda Racing Team) won every stage when he raced in La Thuile in 2016, so expect a strong showing from the Frenchman again this weekend. However, former Champion Michael Broderick and Mike West will both be doing their best to prevent a repeat performance from Amour. Mary Mcconneloug leads the Master Women with Melissa Newell in second and Michelle Muldoon back in third.
Chris Ball, Managing Director of the Enduro World Series, said: “It’s always fantastic to be in La Thuile, everybody loves the trails here and I know why. Super long descents on prime single track amongst stunning scenery - it doesn’t get much better.
“Now that we’ve reached the fifth round we’re getting into the sharp end of the season and every point counts, which should mean that we’re in for some very exciting racing this weekend.”