The first two rounds of the 2021 Enduro World Series kicked off last weekend in the mountains of Val di Fassa, Italy. After a long 18 months apart due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Team Chain Reaction Cycles were back together, ready to race!
Team manager Nigel Page finished third in the Masters category. With a strong start for Elliott, and a few mishaps for Sam and Kelan, Val di Fassa was a challenging race.
Read Nigel Page’s full report from the weekend:
Well, the long awaited 2021 EWS race series kicked off here in Val di Fassa, Italy.
The region has some huge mountains and stunning views which meant some monster tracks for the riders to race on.
It was great to have the whole team back together after 18 months due to the pandemic.
The racing was made up of four stages: Titans, Ciasates, Animal House and Tutti Frutti. There was a good mix of technical and downhill sections with a few awkward flat and uphill parts. The final stage was the longest of the stages which started from the highest ridge line and finished down in the town.
Two days later, Round 2 was held on the same tracks as Round 1.
After the EWS 50 and 100 racers racing on the tracks the day in between, the stages where absolutely destroyed in parts. On top of that, during all of Friday afternoon and evening the rain came – making the track like an ice rink on Saturday morning.
Friday afternoon started with the first ever EWS Pro Stage, where Stage 1, “Titans” was used. All the riders got one practice run and then a race run.
Saturday was then made of the other 3 remaining stages.
Elliott Heap’s strong start to the season
Elliott Heap had an amazing first day of racing and finished 15th overall with just 4 seconds off the top 10. In round 2 he finished in 22nd place only 5 seconds off another top 20 position. Great work El, all the training has paid off and you will soon be where you want to be.
Sam Hill returns to the EWS
Reigning EWS champion and legend Sam Hill started off strong with 2nd place on stage 1, only 1 second off race winner Richie Rude, but faded throughout the other stages and lost a lot of time on stage 3, dropping him down to 18th overall. It was maybe a big shock to the system with such a long time off competitive racing.
Sam didn’t have a great race in round 2 – finishing down in 43rd position, which is strange for us to see, but I think this might be the best thing that could happen to get the fire back into the 3 times EWS World Champion.
Sam has been struggling to motivate himself after the year off in 2020 and it’s going to be an interesting period in his career to see how he goes at the next races- you can do this Sam!
Kelan suffers multiple mechanicals
Kelan Grant had a mixed day with some great stage finishes but a couple of crashes lost him valuable time, but he still managed 60th overall in a hugely competitive field.
He just isn’t having the “luck of the Irish” you could say. He has put all the work in, and he can certainly ride a bike, but things just didn’t go his way in the first 2 rounds, with multiple mechanicals ruining any chances of a good result.
The conditions where brutal and it was a battle throughout the race trying to stay on the bike let alone push the limits in racing.
Nigel finishes third in the Masters
I decided to race in the Master’s Category last minute and started OK on the Pro stage, finishing 2nd but I rode tight as I felt a lot of nerves. Then on Saturday I tried to relax and just ride but the early start for the Masters meant the tracks were so slick after all the rain. I had a huge crash on the first stage when my front wheel just slid out at the top of a log drop.
I managed to regroup and did my best on the next 2 stages. It was really physical and I struggled to push at race pace but was able to just squeeze onto the Master podium in 3rd place just 0.05 of a second off 2nd place.
It was nice to get my super cool “Barry Sheene” Nukeproof Giga onto the podium though, to say thank you to everyone involved. It’s much appreciated – Thank you.
So, we have a week off now where we are going to Pila and then onto La Thuile for rounds 3 and 4 of the EWS.
Big thanks to all the team for their efforts this week, mechanic’s Jacy and Oli for keeping the bikes running perfectly.
Thanks to all the team sponsors for getting us all the product in time for the races also.
A huge congratulations to the EWS team and Italian race organisers for making this race happen with the current travel restrictions and issues in the world at the moment.