Team Chain Reaction Cycles Mavic raced at the penultimate round of the Enduro World Series in Ainsa, Spain, over the weekend where Sam Hill kept his championship-winning hopes alive despite a tough race, Elliott Heap finished third to retain his overall lead in the under-21 category and Kelan Grant was back from injury, battling to finish in 54th place.
Team Manager Nigel Page was trackside to bring us this report:
For the penultimate round of the 2019 Enduro World series we raced in the beautiful town of Ainsa in northern Spain with the start and finish each day in the amazing ancient castle grounds.
This was a two-day race with four stages on Saturday and three stages on the Sunday, plus a prologue race through the castle grounds and steep steps on Friday evening; this wasn’t counted for the overall race, just a fun event for all the locals.
The trails in Ainsa are awesome but very tough to race, as they’re more cross-country-style than any other enduro we have done before with every stage having a good amount of flat and climbing sections. There was also some amazing descending but after doing so much pedalling before the descents it was tough to get your breath back and compose yourself for the technical descents.
There were some lengthy transitions to get to the stages, especially on day one with 1782m of climbing and descending and a total of 41.1km in scorching 30+ temperatures. It was tough to say the least!
Day two was a little easier for the transitions with 815m of climbing, 1272m of descending and 26.4km, but it was even hotter than the Saturday.
Sam Hill had a chance of wrapping up the series even with one round to go next week in Finale; Elliott Heap needed a good result to retain his under-21 championship lead and Kelan Grant was back racing after his big crash in Whistler.
If you can call it luck, it didn’t seem to go our way this week with Elliott getting sick the week before the race and struggling with energy, power and breathing and the trails definitely not suiting Sam’s downhill skills.
Elliott gave it his all and finished eighth, ninth and 10th on the day one stages off his usual pace but still amazing considering how sick he had been all week.
Kelan managed 81st with a crash on the long stage one, then 37th and 23rd and 26th on stages two, three and four to claw back up the rankings.
Sam Hill came 12th on the first long pedally stage one and then suffered a front wheel puncture at the start of stage two to end up 128th for the stage, losing a lot of time and dropping him down to outside the top 30.
Martin Maes, who is the only rider that can challenge Sam for the overall title, showed true sportsmanship and helped Sam fix his front flat before they climbed back up the mountain for stage three. Sam gave it his all on stage three and placed eighth then 10th on stage four to claw back some positions in the rankings at the end of day one.
Everyone was pretty tired after the first day but all the lads gave everything on day two to get the best results possible for the race.
Elliott placed sixth, fifth and third in the under-21 class with tight times to end up third overall for the race. Amazing result Elliott, well done.
Kelan stamped his foot down on the first stage of day two hyperextending his knee, but battled on to come 46th, 67th, 69th to finish 54th overall for the race. Kelan has the speed but just not finding the break he deserves this year.
Sam’s luck seemed to be against him again on the first stage of day two when he hit a rock with his pedal, badly bending the axle making it difficult to pedal but amazingly placed third only two seconds off the fastest time. He then placed 11th on a very pedally stage six with his bent pedal before riders were able to go back to the pits for the only tech support of the race. Jacy replaced Sam’s damaged crank arm and pedal and Sam was off for the long transition to the final stage of the race.
Sam gave it his all and managed a fifth place making it all the way back to 11th overall in the final results. As they say championships are won on the tough days and Sam showed his true determination and professionalism in a tough race. Awesome work buddy, we are all proud of you.
A huge congrats to the whole team for giving it everything and to Jacy and Ewan for all the hard work. Thanks to all the sponsors for their continued support and it was great to have Sam’s wife Bridget, his eldest son Bam and Nukeproof’s Rob Sherratt there for help and support.
We now make the drive over to Finale in Italy for the last round of the 2019 championship where we have a shot at both the elite men’s and under-21s titles so wish us luck.