The third and final round of the 2020 Enduro World Series took place in the famous mountain bike destination of Finale Ligure, Italy, over the weekend where Elliott Heap showed incredible grit to continue racing despite a huge mechanical setback. Guest riders Ant Hale and Owen Robinson also took on the four super-physical stages.
You can watch the team edit here:
As ever Team Manager Nigel Page was in the thick of the action to bring us this report:
Even though the series has been short this year, the EWS and race organisers didn’t make it easy on the riders with another super tough and physical course. With 58.2km of pedalling and 1542m elevation and four super physical stages, it was a tough race for everyone.
The first two stages of the race were super-fun typical Finale trails: some awesome downhill, tech rock gardens, hundreds of corners but of course a fair bit of flat and small physical climbs.
Stage three wasn’t exactly an MTB trail – more of a technical walking path, which was super physical and flat at the start. Slow speed and then dropped into crazy tight steep rocky sections, which were hard to just ride a bike on, never mind when the heart rate was maxed out.
The final stage four was in the Finale EWS about three years ago. A fun fast trail at the top with some very challenging rocky sections and into a lung-busting second half of the trail with tight singletrack and pretty big power climbs and flat sections to the finish.
Elliott Heap had had two great races in Zermatt and Pietra and was flying in practice before this weekend’s race. Elliott was super keen and confident to end the season on a result we all know he is capable of, but unfortunately luck wasn’t with him. Towards the lower downhill part of stage one, Elliott’s chain came off the front chainring and got tangled up in his cranks and ended up breaking his rear derailleur.
Elliott tried to fix his bike at the bottom of stage one but in the end had to take his chain off and he ran the hour-long transition to stage two, 8km uphill. He then raced stage two with no chain. Elliott then ran and scooted his bike all the way back to the pit stop in Finale.
He still managed to get to the pits in time to refuel with some pasta and a Red Doctor (can of coke), and to allow team mechanic Alexis Bosson to replace the derailleur and chain and make it back out for his time check and off up the climb to stage three.
This just showed Elliott’s fitness, will power and commitment to the sport and the team. Fair play Elliott, you were a true champ this weekend.
Unfortunately Elliott’s legs were totally blown and he had nothing left for the two physical stages three and four, but you did the team proud Elliott, great work mate.
Ant Hale who suffered a separated shoulder in his huge crash last week in Pietra, just wanted to race and represent the team after the support we have offered him this year. Ant is a super tough determined lad and fair play to being able to get around the full race with a ruined shoulder.
Ant took it safe and steady on stage one, placing 81st and then got an impressive 65th place finish on stage two with that shoulder injury. He then tweaked his shoulder on a big rock hole on stage three and just went into survival mode for the rest of the race but made it through and completed the three-race EWS series. Well done mate, fair play.
It has been an absolute pleasure to have Ant along with us for these three EWS races, he has been a great part of the team, super funny, positive, helpful and an absolute legend of an all-around dude.
Young Owen Robinson gave it his all again and rode well on the first two stages but at the bottom of stage three his legs cramped up and he was unable to make it up the climb to the final stage four. Owen was disappointed but these huge days are brutal if you’re not conditioned for it. I think it’s been a great experience for the young Nukeproof rider though and he will take a lot home from the EWS team experience. He was always in great form and super positive.
I rode way too carefully on the first stage, I just didn’t seem to be able to push myself and so after the climb to stage two I decided to give it a proper go as this was my favourite stage of the race.
Unfortunately early on in the stage in a rock shoot with a chicane I went to take a pedal stroke and my chain snapped, blowing my feet off the pedals and chest onto the bars going through the rock drops. For a split second I thought ‘this is going to be painful!’ But luckily, I managed to hang onto the bike blowing through the course tape. The rear derailleur got all tangled up with my chain and into the wheel. I stopped to try and free it, but the chain was jammed behind the cassette and spokes, I couldn’t get it out. I rolled down the downhill part of the stage and still had fun and walked my bike back to the pits and called it for the day.
So, in a crazy year we managed to get in three epic EWS races: Zermatt, Pietra Ligure and Finale Ligure.
I would like to say a massive congratulations and thank you to my amazing team, the EWS staff and race organisers, everyone made it as safe and easy as possible with all the restrictions this year.
Also, thanks to Matt Stott, Alexis Bosson for help on the tools, TJ and Kike for filming and photos, the amazing people at Hotel Internazionale and Fly Snack Bar in Finale Ligure for looking after us and making us feel like family.
Of course, a big thanks to all our sponsors for the continued support in a weird but wonderful short season.
Take care everyone and fingers crossed for 2021.