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Enduro World Series: Breaking New Ground

20 days from now, the Enduro World Series will cap off an amazing inaugural season of international Enduro racing in Finale Ligure, Italy, and although the final checkered flag has yet to drop, we are already looking forward to 2014. Following the announcement of next year's EWS race venues, we caught up with EWS Managing Director Chris Ball somewhere between World Cups and the Trans-Provence for a little stock-take and a look into the future. It just so happened that the venue for the Chilean stop of the 2014 tour was also revealed today - so without further ado, dive into this hot-off-the-press future-O-scope and get stoked for 2014!

Enduro World Series 2014 - Interview with Chris Ball

Chris Ball, ex-UCI and now Enduro World Series Head Honcho at Industry World Champs in Hafjell - photo by Sven Martin

Vital: In a few word, how the series is doing right now?
CB: Simply great. We’ve had six fantastic rounds and although we are still learning every race, we’re all really happy with the support and commitment from the riders, their teams and supporters.

Vital: Jared just took third in world champs DH onboard his Enduro bike – that is quite the feather in the hat of Enduro! We’ve also seen the DHers do really well in EWS - is Enduro racing gnarlier than many people expected?

CB: Enduro was never easy and it’s been great seeing some fresh faces to the discipline learn that this year. Many have seen Enduro as a softer downhill, or the retirement ground for downhillers but in fact the discipline brings with it a whole host of different challenges including fitness, tactics, preparation and often extremely challenging terrain. The riders have had to think on their feet and learn that often Enduro is wild racing, where the boundaries are less apparent than in the more established disciplines of downhill and cross country. It’s been a steep learning curve for many, that’s for sure.

Jared Graves in Val d'Isere - photo by Sven Martin

Vital: New exciting locations for 2014 – can you describe the new venues/races in short for us?

CB: Yes! We’re really excited about the 2014 calendar. We are venturing into two new countries, the UK and Chile. And, these two rounds probably couldn't be more different if they tried. Whereas in South America we’ll experience the infamous high altitude Andes mountain range, at Tweedlove in the Scottish Borders, the riders will tackle classic UK riding, with far less elevation but a lot of technical, natural fun and flow. We’re also looking forward to returning to Winterpark and the Colorado Freeride Festival who will be making some changes to the racing for a fresh new event there. Finally, we have the Super Enduro in La Thuille (another first-time race venue - ed), a beautiful alpine venue that Enrico Guala (organizer of the Italian Super Enduro Series and one of the four founders of the EWS - ed) is really excited about and the classic French resort of Valloire too. With Crankworx Whistler in there as well, 2014 will test every aspect of mountain biking once again, from technical to physical, from flat to steep, something we’re all really excited about here at the EWS.

The EWS heads to Chile for 2014 - here a rider can be seen tackling the 2013 Montenbaik Enduro Sram in Las Varas

The King of the Hill race at the Tweedlove Festival - photo credit: <a href=">www.tweedlove.com">

French Enduro Series race in Valloire 2013

Vital: Will there be any changes in rules or format for 2014?

CB: Yes we’ll be making some rule changes and adding clarity to others over this winter. As I said previously, we've learned a lot and we've tested many different formats, rules, ideas and concepts this year. We’ll be using this experience to shape our rulebook and develop the sport as best we can. Expect our new rules to be published early 2014.

Vital: How difficult was the scheduling? What were your main concerns?

CB: First and foremost we think about the riders and how our planning will affect them. We have to consider major other events and respect that the sport, the industry and the riders have other commitments outside of the EWS. As many riders are from the Northern Hemisphere, it would be easy to stay safe and stay in Europe and North America but we know that there are many great riders in the Southern Hemisphere too who can’t afford the time and money to travel all of the time and therefore we also feel a responsibility to bring the racing to them.

Vital: Do you think there would be room for more races on the schedule in the future, or is 7 pretty much the magic number? There is notably some room between the last 2 events again…

CB: It’s a hard balance and many teams and riders would be pushed to attend more than seven. Perhaps in the future as budgets grow we may be able to increase the number of rounds but for now, our feedback from the guys on the ground say that they are happy with seven events for year two.

In terms of the gap, yes it is a long time but again we have to consider everything else that is going on. August is rammed with Crankworx, Eurobike, World Cups and World Championships. That means many of the media and industry are tied up already. We had hoped to host in September but it’s a hard month for weather in Alpine/European locations. So, as this year, we’ve coupled up with the Roc d’Azur, a big event that many will be travelling to already in October. For the industry support and staff, this makes things a lot more efficient, although we do understand it does leave us with a gap. It’s all about balance though and with more and more happening each year, you can’t always get exactly what you want.

Vital: Do you still expect the world cup DH racers to attend in 2014? We’ve seen good support this year from the Syndicate, Lapierre, and others - any new interest popping up?

CB: We’ve spoken to a few World Cup riders who seem keen to dip their toe in the Enduro World Series next year which is fantastic. However, as many learnt this year, it’s not so easy racing an EWS at the sharp end so I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see more riders focus a little more specifically on the discipline.

Vital: We saw a few little teething issues – anything in particular you will look to iron out in 2014?

CB: We’ve got a number of administrative, boring things to sort for next year but overall, we’re pretty happy with the way things have run. We’ll continue to work on our communication for next year, both to the riders and teams and the fans as I do feel this is something we need to get a little better at too.

As I said before, we’ll clarify and construct a few fresh rules but I think alongside our group, the riders are also learning that there’s a big responsibility in Enduro to learn the rules, follow the ethics and speak with us. As the riders themselves learn the concept more, and as we develop too, I see very few, if any major changes that will be needed.

Vital: As promised, the EWS has separated from Enduro des Nations for 2014 – will EWS racers still attend the EON?

CB: Following the 2013 Enduro of Nations, we’re still working and discussing the best route for this event to take. We all love the format and the concept and we’re being very careful to make sure it grows in the best way possible. Expect some more detailed news on the 2014 Enduro of Nations soon.

Vital: EMBA licenses – on course? Sponsorship situation? Is the series fully on track for 2014?

CB: So far so good, we have received great feedback on the series so far and many generous companies are happy to continue their support of us into year two and beyond. Without this support it wouldn’t happen so we do all feel incredibly grateful to the companies, teams and riders that do join our series.

Vital: Any final words before heading to Ligure for the grand Finale? (pun intended).

CB: It couldn’t have a better name could it? The grand finale in Finale. Really I would only like to extend my thanks once again to everyone who has followed the racing this year and supported our group. We’ve had a great year and I can’t wait to see what goes down on the hills above the Mediterranean ocean in a few weeks' time.


BREAKING NEWS: Nevados de Chillan To Host the 2014 EWS Race in Chile

September 30, 2014 - After receiving the news that Chile will host the first event of the Enduro World Series this 2014, curiosity was at an all time high as to where the race would actually be held.

After considering 5 different locations in 4000 km from the world's driest desert to the glaciers of Patagonia, we found the perfect place for the first race of the 2014 EWS. The place will be in the ski resort of Nevados de Chillan (www.nevadosdechillan.com) in the Bio Bio region, and the race will take place from April 18th to the 20th 2014.

Nevados de Chillan has more than five years of experience as a Bike Park, having hosted very good DH, XC and Enduro races, which has transformed it into one of the epicenters of Chilean Mountain Biking over the last few summers. The trails that will be used for the EWS race will mainly be old single tracks originally made by cowboys and hikers.

Nevados de Chillan has also debuted a new hotel with incredible views of the valley and the mountains this winter, which will have special rates for EWS competitors. The capacity of this hotel combined with existing hotels will board approximately 400 people.

6km away from Nevados de Chillan there is the little town call Las Trancas where there are other options like cabins, hostels and other hotels.

To get to Nevados de Chillan we recommend the following: Fly to Santiago de Chile (SCL)

1. Plane - Car: From Santiago de Chile take a plane to the city Concepcion (45min).
From Concepcion drive along Route 152 in an easterly direction towards Chillan (90min), then take the N55 route east along 80km up to Nevados de Chillan (60min).

2. Car: Driving from Santiago to Nevados de Chillan takes 5 hours. Take Route 5, heading south and drive 400km to Chillan, then take the N55 route east along 80km up to Nevados de Chillan (60min).

Enduro has a long history in Chile, with www.montenbaikenduro.com having run Enduro racing there for the last 5 years. To give you an idea of previous events, check out the video from the 2nd race of the 2013 series in La Dormida. We're looking forward to 2014 already!



Matt Hunter during a recent visit to Nevados de Chillan.

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