Team Chain Reaction Cycles raced at the first round of the Enduro World Series in Zermatt, Switzerland, over the weekend with Elliott Heap taking seventh place and Nigel Page winning the Masters category. Horrendous weather conditions almost put an end to the race, with some of the biggest names in the sport falling victim to the conditions.
As ever, Nigel was in the thick of things to bring us this report:
Well, its been a crazy year and of course the first round of the 2020 Enduro World Series race had to be just as crazy! It wouldn’t be a challenge otherwise would it!
The EWS team had a huge task on their plate this year just getting any races going. A massive congratulations to them all for working so hard and making it happen in ever-changing circumstances.
The weather in Zermatt when we arrived was amazing and the views just out of this world! We got out on the bikes a few times and on the EWS shakedown day we had a great time in the dust and even rode down a crazy near vertical scree slope, it was awesome!
As it’s been a challenging year it had to end up being a challenging race for the EWS team, Traillove crew and all the riders!
The weather completely changed throughout the weekend with freezing conditions, pouring rain and snow. It was a tough day in practice and the weather only got worse for race day. It was looking like the race might have to be cancelled after all the efforts to get everyone here and go ahead, but the EWS team made a great decision to go forward with a much shorter race consisting of just two stages, but they were definitely not easy! A great decision to make the race happen guys, well done.
Stage one was tough in the mud with lots of roots and rocks. Small pinch climbs that were easily rollable in the dry became a mission in the mud and killed off any energy you had left for the technical downhill sections.
Elliott Heap showed his amazing talent, skills and fitness by coming third in a stacked elite field – amazing result Elliott. New recruit Ant Hale in his first ever EWS and enduro race just pushed too hard and had a big crash on the first stage, all a learning curve at first for Ant.
Stage two started open and fast at the top before transitioning into some really amazing, rocky sections in the middle. This stage wrapped up with a flow trail that felt like a thousand berms and rollers in the wet sticky conditions and then some flat out drifty turns. A sprint along the paved road and into the final flow trail from lasts years final stage finished things up. It was a tough stage on the legs and lungs.
Elliott had a little off course mistake but still managed another amazing stage result to put him seventh overall for the race, an absolute belter of a result and something we all knew was coming. Good on you lad. I know you will be at the top of the results sheet pretty soon.
Ant Hale, drafted into the team while Kelan Grant recovers from a shoulder injury, clawed back a few places to finish an impressive 54th overall. Ant was bitterly disappointed because he is so competitive and has the skills for a much better result, but well done Ant, it was awesome to have you as part of our team and you will get a result soon that you deserve and are happy with.
I managed to battle on in the Masters category and somehow managed my first ever EWS win. I dug in deep but didn’t think I had a chance of actually winning. My Nukeproof Mega gave me the confidence to hit the rough stuff fast and it cornered so well.
A huge thanks to Todd at SRAM and team mechanic Stotty for getting me back up and running after I smashed my rear mech into a rock and bent my hanger badly during stage one.
We really missed having our man Sam Hill and mechanic Jacy with us this week, but it was the right decision to stay at home in these crazy times. We did our best to represent the three-time EWS World Champion.
A huge thanks to the full team this week – Elliott, Ant, Stotty, TJ and Kike – and a massive thanks to my wife Michelle loading us up with all the food for our journey and whilst here in Zermatt. We had a blast and really proud of my team:-)
With the new UK / Switzerland quarantine rules we are heading off to Finale Ligure now instead of going home, where we will do some more riding and training on the new bikes and hopefully be ready for the next two EWS rounds next month.
Cheers for now and stay safe.