EWS Round 1 Val Di Fassa
Words By: Bernard Kerr
Photos By: Boris Beyer
Val Di Fassa in the heart of the Dolomites hosted the first round of the 2021 Enduro World Series. After a disrupted 2020 season, the EWS organizers opted for a double header with a race week stretching from Tuesday to Saturday.
Big views and impressive peaks made for a great backdrop for day one of practice. With 4 stages to learn for both races, the team was also excited to be heading out on their new Pivot race bikes. With long stages, great weather and amazing tracks on the menu, it was great to have Morgane back with the team.
Training went well for the whole team. A few training crashes for the boys while learning the limits were brushed off easily. Stage three was a favorite of the day, freshly cut with soft dirt and loam through the woods left lots of opportunity for creative lines and riding.
Racing on Wednesday took a bit to get everyone’s head around, but once the flag dropped it was business as usual. Stage one was a 2.7 km trail through the trees with a few boardwalks and man-made features towards the end. Morgane smashed the stage; riding smart she finished 2nd, only 3 seconds back.
Eddie’s start wasn’t what he was looking for, a few mistakes and a crash left him frustrated. Matt was flying on stage one, kicking off his 2021 EWS challenge with a 5th on the opening stage.
Stage two was the shortest of the weekend. Matt backed up his first stage result with another 5th place and was feeling great on the new bike. Morgane finished 6th and maintained her 2nd place overall.
Stage three was a fun, natural stage, broken up with a savage climb. Eddie had the pre-stage nerves knowing that on the stage he would have to go ‘into a dark place’ on the climb. Eddie put in his best performance of the race with an 8th. Morgane continued her consistent performance with a 3rd on the stage and showed everyone flat pedals can perform on all gradients.
Matt lost a little time on the stage with a few small mistakes but felt good on the climb and finished 12th, maintaining his top 5 overall position.
Stage four was the longest of the race and, rightly, the queen stage. At over 6km and almost 1000m descent, it was a monster that would take over 11 minutes to race. Matt and Morgane sitting in good overall positions needed a strong stage and top performance.
Eddie felt good on the stage but two crashes left him chasing time again and posting the 29th fastest time on the stage. Giving him 16th overall, Eddie was left frustrated at the mistakes but an ending with a good result considering the crashes gave him confidence that the speed was there for the next race.
Morgane and Matt both finished within 10 seconds of the winners on the final stage. Matt finishing in 5th and Morgane in 3rd shows just how close times are. Continuing their consistent and fast riding put Matt in 4th for the day and Morgane in an amazing 2nd.
A great result for Matt who was riding with no expectations following an injury picked up at the World Cup Downhill in Leogang. Morgane was over the moon with a 2nd and great start to the season. To top things off, Eddie’s 16th gave Pivot Factory Racing 2nd fastest team of the day.
A great first outing for the new bikes!
After a much-needed rest day for everyone it was straight back to racing with round two of the EWS 2021 season.
The all new Pro Stage was one stage raced on Friday with extra championship points available and counting towards the round two overall time. A repeat of stage one, but the added element of rain would spice things up. An afternoon storm passed through just as Morgane was dropping in. The track was wild, with some sections like an ice rink and others dusty and dry, it was impossible for the riders to judge their speed. Morgane was unlucky with the weather and battled the conditions and two crashes to finish 19th.
Matt and Eddie fared a little better, with the track getting ridden in it was easier to read but equally beat up. Matt was playing it safe on the unpredictable conditions with a 15th finish while Eddie was finding the speed finishing 11th.
Warm sunny weather greeted the riders for day two of round two. The stages were a repeat of the round one stage but after the pro race and amateur race they were in a much different state, big holes, sniper roots and blown out berms were everywhere.
Morgane had a lot of work to do after a challenging Pro Stage, but kicked things off with a 5th on stage two. Feeling better in the consistent conditions she was able to push and felt good on the bike.
Matt started off with a few wobbles on stage two, only managing 28th after a couple of mistakes. Eddie started as he left off on the Pro Stage, another solid ride and another 11th position.
Stage three was great for the team. A repeat from round one but with the savage climb neutralized it was now a downhill sprint. Morgane rode perfectly, taking the fastest time on the stage and pulling lots of time back in the overall on the 10 minute stage.
Eddie similarly had his best stage for the round taking 3rd on the stage after enjoying the technical track.
The final stage had the most time to gain and lose. With almost 1000m of descending, starting in open alpine turns and finishing in the town, it took in all terrains you could expect on a bike track. Morgane was still climbing up the ranks and a great ride saw her finish 2nd on the stage and take 2nd overall. A great recovery, gaining 17 places over three stages!
Eddie continued his consistent ride with a clean stage and took 10th overall. Matt was enjoying the long physical stage and finishing 10th on the stage boosted him into 13th overall. Two great results from the guys. With top results all round Pivot Factory Racing took 2nd in the team competition once again. Another reward for the team and team effort over the long weekend of racing.