Photo Epic: Race Day – EWS Zermatt 2019
Here we are, the final race and the final day of the 2019 Enduro World Series. For every year prior, this day has taken place on the shores of the Mediterranean in Finale Ligure, but this year, we see the champions crowned under the Matterhorn towering high above Zermatt, Switzerland. A truly iconic spot. Fitting for what has been an incredibly unique season. With a pre-season injury to Cecile Ravanel and late-season injury to Eddie Masters taking their toll on top riders in both fields and the shakeup of points caused by the absence of Martin Maes and return of Richie Rude to dominance, it has been a wild ride to get here.
Isabeau Courdurier has had a perfect season thus far, and with the absence of Cecile, her main rival has become Noga Korem. While Isabeau has the series locked down, she will certainly have to dig deep to fight a charging Noga Korem who is surely hungrier than ever for her first-ever win. In the men’s race, things are far from straight forward. As the day started, Florian Nicolai held a slim advantage over Sam Hill. It was so close that any mistake by either of the two on any of the days five rough and long stages would spell game over for their championship hopes. Add to the mix the wildcards of Richie Rude and Martin Maes, the two most dominant riders not in contention for the title and the fight between Nicolai and Hill is even more interesting. With Sam Hill nor Florian Nicolai winning a race this season, the big question as they took to the start was who would rise to the occasion and perform when the pressure was on with world titles on the line.
By the midpoint of the day, Isabeau would pull out a strong lead of nearly 30 seconds with Andreane Lanthier-Nadeau in 2nd and then Ines Thoma in 3rd. Sadly, Noga Korem would rip her derailleur out on stage one and lose an unrecoverable amount of time. For the men, it was all about Sam Hill stamping his authority on the Swiss mountainside and making everyone else chase. With two stages to go, he would hold a four-second lead over Martin Maes and Kevin Miquel, who was then closely followed by teammates Shawn Neer and Richie Rude. With Florian Nicolai 20 seconds back in 7th, his grip on the points lead was in serious jeopardy.
After the final two stages were done and dusted, Isabeau Courdurier would complete her perfect season – eight straight wins followed by ALN in 2nd and then Raphaela Richter in 3rd. In the overall, it would be Isabeau on top with Noga Korem second and Andreane Lanthier-Nadeau in 3rd. For the men, Martin Maes would mount a charge on the final two stages to win his 4th event of the year while Sam Hill slipped to 2nd and Richie Rude muscled his way past Kevin Miquel for 3rd. Florian Nicolai would finish 5th and in the process, watch his championship hopes slip away. For the 3rd year in a row, Sam Hill ends the EWS season as champion and in that, becomes the first person ever to win three EWS titles. Nicolai would end up 2nd with Kevin Miquel in 3rd. New this year is an award for most stages won throughout the season with that designation going to Isabeau Courdurier and Richie Rude.
What a season and we can’t wait to do it all again next year in 2020.