The third round of the Enduro World Series took place in Madeira, Portugal, over the weekend with Sam Hill piloting his Nukeproof Mega 290 to fifth place.
As ever, Team Manager Nigel Page was there to bring us this report:
Madeira delivered an ace weekend of riding – a lot different to the last time we rode here in 2017 when it was muddy and slippery with an average first stage. This time though it was sunny, dry and super dusty with an amazing variety of stages to test the riders and bikes to the limit.
There were eight stages in total, three on Saturday and five on Sunday with stages three and eight being the same track with an extended section to bring the riders right down to the finish area at the beach in Machico.
There were some big steep transitions and really demanding tracks, but varied trails with enough pedalling and a ton of downhill and technical riding to keep the riders on their toes.
You can see an overview of the trails on Trail Forks:
Kelan Grant had another good race but was feeling a bit flat and tired on the first day, after two big days of practice in the heat.
Kelan started to get more into his grove on the second day with a great result on stage four but a costly crash on the Queens stage seven dropped him down the rankings to eventually finish in 36th place overall but still a solid result.
Elliott Heap was pretty disappointed with his results after the first two rounds in New Zealand and Tasmania and has been off the bike for the last few weeks after a shoulder injury.
Elliott came out swinging this week riding super-fast and aggressive to get his first elite top-20, finishing up with a great 19th place overall with a best stage result of 11th on stage one. Well done mate.
Sam Hill was back on form after being sick at the first two rounds and riding a Nukeproof Mega 290 for the first time in an EWS race. Sam had tried the bike out at home over the last few weeks and liked the feel of the bigger wheels so thought he would give it a go this week in Madeira.
Throughout practice and the days leading up to the race, Sam and his mechanic Jacy were trying different settings from fork travel and different offsets and bar height, fork and rear shock pressures, it was great to see – Sam finally got a setup he was super happy with before the race started.
Sam came out swinging on the long dry and dusty blown out stage one, making the technical steep lower part of the track look easy with his skills placing second for the stage.
He then had another great second stage only a few seconds back and was looking great on stage three until a pretty hard and time-consuming crash half way down stage three where he just lost the front end in a deep rut. Sam went down pretty hard in a big pile of rocks and lost a lot of time getting back up grabbing his bike which was all tangled up and trying to get back on and going on a steep technical rocky bank.
It took Sam a few more corners and straights to get himself composed again and then he was flying again down the end of the stage. I was really surprised when he ended the stage only 11 seconds back on the fastest time.
This dropped Sam down from the top three overall but he rode fast and solid on all five stages on day two and demonstrated why he is a fan’s favourite and downhill flat pedal legend on stage four, the Gamble Line, which was super blown out, dry and dusty with huge holes.
Sam was smashing corners inside foot out style with the biggest explosions of dust I have ever seen from a bicycle! It was amazing to watch; the crowd and media guys were going crazy with applause!
Sam didn’t end up with the fastest time on this stage but I think he definitely had the most fun and entertained the crowd the most. Awesome riding buddy.
Sam pushed on hard for the rest of the day in a close battle at the sharp end for the podium positions but he just couldn’t quite make up enough time that he lost in his crash on stage three for a podium position. Sam finished the race in a fantastic fifth position overall, only 10 seconds from the podium.
Fantastic riding and attitude to racing buddy, well done.
It was a great race for the team, well done to everyone. I’m really proud of you all and how you rode.
A massive thanks to Jacy and Carl for keeping the bikes rolling 100% all week and getting everything ready for the riders.
Thanks to all our sponsors as usual and the race organisers in Madeira, it was awesome!
We have a little break now before the next two rounds in Italy and France, so until then,