The Enduro World Series (EWS) heads to the Italian Alps this weekend for the fourth round of the season, the La Thuile Enduro World Series Powered by SRAM.

Nestled beneath the slopes of Mont Blanc, Europe’s most iconic peak, La Thuile proved an instant hit with riders when it hosted an EWS back in July 2014. Featuring long, natural trails that wind their way down ancient Alpine passes, the 400 riders competing this weekend are in for an incredible two days of racing.

As in 2014, many of the race’s six stages will be accessed by chairlift, but that doesn’t mean the racers are in for an easy weekend. Even with the chairlift, riders will still have to earn their descents with plenty of pedalling included in the course. A mixture of new and ancient trail will push the riders to their limit, as they negotiate a combination of long physical stages alongside shorter, more technical stages.

This event also sees us officially begin using Quarq Race Intelligence. Pro racers will be equipped with Qollector, a wearable GPS tracker. You can follow them in real time at www.enduroworldseries.com

In the men’s race all eyes will be on Richie Rude (Yeti Fox Shox Factory Team) as he looks to defend his series lead, but with Damien Oton (Devinci Global Racing) and Jerome Clementz (Cannondale) tied on points and sitting in second and third place respectively, the fight for the podium will be especially intense as we reach the midway point of the season.

In the women’s race series leader Cecile Ravanel (Commencal Vallnord Enduro Team) will start the weekend as the favourite for the win, but she’ll have stiff competition from second placed Isabeau Courdurier (Sunn) and Ines Thoma (Canyon Factory Enduro Team) in third. Reigning World Champion Tracy Moseley was due to compete but an injury has ruled her out of the running.

Sebastien Claquin (Rocky Mountain urge bp) tops the U21 Men’s rankings, but not far behind is fellow Frenchman Adrien Dailly (Lapierre Gravity Republic). Dailly was forced to pull out of the competition in Ireland after trying to race with a broken hand proved impossible, but after a four week break to recover he’ll be back and looking for points. Pedro Burns (Ibis Cycles Enduro Race) in third place is also having a strong season, as is Killian Callaghan who will be looking to replicate his win at round three in Ireland.

The U21 women category is continuing to grow, and this weekend will see leader Leah Maunsell, fresh from her win in Ireland, battle the likes of Raphaela Richter (Radon Magura Factory Racing) and Elena Melton who sit in second and third place respectively. Whilst in the Master’s category Karim Amour is still the man to beat after back to back wins in Chile and Argentina and a second place in Ireland last month.

Rocky Mountain Urge bp continue to lead the team competition, but with Devinci Global Racing and Ibis Cycles Enduro Race in second and third place, there will be no room for complacency.

Enrico Guala, one of the race organisers, said: “After an incredible debut in 2014, the whole village of La Thuile has been pushing hard to bring back the Enduro World Series. This year’s race will show riders some incredible landscapes and stage starts. Mont Blanc and the Rutor Glacier will be majestic presences above the new stages that will throw some new challenges to the battle for the series titles. Unridden stages on old trails are what riders should expect for the fourth stop of the season, as well as a great expansion of the existing network of long, natural trails that characterise the riding in La Thuile.”