Enduro action in the CLIF Crankworx Summer Series wrapped today, with the final of three Enduros crowning it’s champions at Sun Peaks Resort.
“It feels really good,” said Finn Iles, who takes his third Enduro win of the series. “It was a little more up and down than the other ones. I had a mechanical on Stage One that was a little bit scary, but after that, got my bike fixed and then from there it was sort of like, ride as fast as you can. Stage Two and Three were so much fun that it wasn’t even like I was racing, besides the pedal at the start of Stage Three. From there down I was just laughing and smiling and having a really good time. I made the most of that fourth stage. It was super hard and physical and pedally but I think I held my own and, yeah, held the win.”
Iles took the second and third stage wins, finishing the day’s four stages in 26:55.37.
Less than six seconds behind on the day, Jesse Melamed with a time of 27:01.21.
“I’m stoked. I feel like I’ve been riding this way the whole time, and I feel like I might have turned up the aggression a little bit today. Just kind of letting myself go faster. It’s nice to ride at that speed again and let it go. The trails are so fun, so it was really fun to be going fast. I thought I could get Finn...well actually I didn’t think I could get Finn. I wanted to get close. And I was, so that’s good.”
“Finn is really, really good at riding bikes,” he added.
Melamed finished first in the Kicking Horse DH, but today marks his best Enduro result of the series. He says the series felt like it started slow for him.
“I know the speed is there. I’ve had great results in the past. I know it hasn’t gone away. I know for me it was just controlling the build and not exploding myself before I could even get to my full potential. That’s why this series is so great ‘cause I’ve been practicing new skills in Dual Slalom and Downhill and then taking it to Enduro. Just kind of going the speed I want to go and not overrace myself. It’s great to have so many races back-to-back-to-back and just allow yourself to ramp up.”
Heading out of the Summer Series, Melamed says he feels like he’s on top of his game once again.
“I’ve got that racing edge, the focus is there, and this will be a really good springboard into the EWS.”
On the women’s side, Andréane Lanthier Nadeau (ALN) is another athlete whose performance has been on an upward trajectory since the start of the series. ALN got her first win of the series in last week’s Enduro, then went on to win the Psychosis DH.
“I’m happy about today,” she said after winning three stages and finishing in top spot with a four stage total of 31:47.77. “I think it’s like a social experiment at this point about how many races we racers can do in that amount of time. Yeah, it was super physical. The times on transitions were tight, so I think everyone pushed. Everyone was very tired. I think we’re running on fumes at this point.”
Nine races deep, it was a sentiment echoed by the second place finisher Miranda Miller.
“It felt like more of a personal battle,” said Miller of her 32:22.84, less than two seconds ahead of third place finisher Casey Brown. “I didn’t really feel like I was battling anyone. I feel like ALN did a really good job and kind of just smoked us. And then I was just floundering behind. It was a good day. But a really, really hard day. Really hard day.”
“After the first stage I was like ‘screw this, I’m cooked,’” she added, of the ups and downs that followed her on the trails today. “I felt like I was riding so poorly and I was pretty far off the back. And then I dropped into Stage Two and it was a little bit better and I was able to flow with the trail a little bit more and it felt less like just fighting the whole way down.”
She said that little bit of momentum helped her shift her focus from results to the feeling of riding her bike.
Next to Brown in the standings, the men’s third place finish marked a return to the series. After sustaining an injury in Psychosis practice, Kasper Woolley made his way back to the start line. He finished the day with a 27:21.91 overall, saying his return to racing was “really good,” despite a few setbacks.
“I came out of the gates pretty good. Won Stage One, second on Stage Two, so, leading after Stage Two. And then, Stage Three was going well but then I crashed, really hard. High speed, caught a pedal. The brush on the side of the trail caught me like a net. It was super gnarly. Happy to seem kind of OK from that, just some whiplash and pretty sore. And then just kind of survival on the last one. Happy to hold on to third but a little bit disappointed with the last two stages.”
Racers’ focus now shifts to tomorrow night’s Dual Slalom competition, before going out with a bang with back-to-back live broadcasts days Thursday and Friday for the Maxxis Downhill and Air DH.
Today’s results offer up the final Enduro points that will get added to the overall. The top women stay the same, with Verbeeck leading followed by Brown and ALN in the top three. On the men’s side, Iles’ strengthens his lead, while Rhys Verner’s fourth place finish boosts him ahead of Bas van Steenbergen. The two swap spots, with van Steenberger dropping to third. The overall points winners after the three weeks will each be crowned the Champions of the CLIF Crankworx Summer Series, with each walking away with an additional $10,000 prize.
As for the end of CLIF Crankworx Summer Series Enduros?
“I’m pretty happy to be done with it to be honest,” laughed Iles. “To have it as the first event of every single week, and it’s the most tiring event. I feel like an Enduro on it’s own would be a little bit more fun, just because you don’t have to focus on something the next day. This is sort of different because it’s full on. And then the next day it’s still full on. I enjoyed it but I don’t think I’ll be racing an Enduro until next summer at least. But I think I would like to do an EWS. Just go try it out.”