DOWNHILL VS ENDURO - Race Report from the RockShox Enduro Challenge

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<b>Jared Graves has raced this trail before. Last time he was on a 29er hardtail and wearing a skinsuit. No matter the bike, he's lays down the law.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>Graves dominated on the rider-favorite Stage 5, the most technical and gravity-fed of all the stages. Even Troy and Sam couldn't match Graves' speed.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>With such little time to get to know a lot of trail and a particularly large number of corners, helmet cam footage is always a great way to learn what you can. Troy and Yatesy have been riding together for years and both have valid input to help each other.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>The High Country, as its known in Australia, is famous for its Snow Gum trees and dead, greay timber left behind after fires. The equally famous Stonefly descent was Stage 3 and is usually a 7-8-minute run. Only Graves (pictured) and trail builder Ryan De La Rue were able to get sub-7-minute results.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>Richie Rude has been training with Jared the last few weeks up in Toowomba and it's obvious he has been enjoying his time here. A very strong 4th place result this weekend among some international heavies.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>Both Graves and Richie opted for the SB5c this weekend.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>Sam Hill pushed hard all day. Taking 5th overall was a great result. With the team heading to the EWS in Rotorua along with a lot of other downhill races, it should be a very interesting start to the season.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>Sam Hill treated the Prologue like a mini downhill, letting it all hangout. No clips, no sweat.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>Someone probably suggested Sam should ride clips.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>Mavic seem to have stepped up the program with the CRC boys.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>The big man Ben Cory was one of 7 World Champions racing this Enduro. While he loves pedaling, he was really wishing he was back at Lake Arbor trails boosting a la summer of 2004.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>Jerome said he really enjoyed the unique and tight trails here in Buller. Very different from the steep Alp's he is used too.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>With two lift-accessed stages it was a welcome help after already climbing well over 1000m. Jerome and Pauline spend some quality time together.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>First-year senior downhiller Jackson Davis tearing it up on Stage 6.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>CRC rider Mike Jones has been training with Sam in Western Australia and got off to a flyer in the Prologue. He slipped throughout the day back to 14th for his first ever Enduro.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>The SRAM boys were non-stop, Cooking dinner and wrenching all night for their star international athletes.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>Graves rolling into the finish of the last stage with a flat tire, failing to earn Total Stage Domination.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>They're no European Alps, but they hold some sweet trails. Mount Buller.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>Along with Jerome, his girlfriend Pauline Dieffenthaler made the trip over to Mount Buller to race.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>Rhys Atkinson getting his first Enduro out of the way on a trail he also helped create. Stage 2 here was probably one of the flattest of the day. It was all about finding the right places to pedal as the skinny singletrack made its way down the hill.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>Did we say tight trails here in Buller? Mick Vanos pushes the limits of the trail.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>Eliminator World Champ Paul Van Der Ploeg bringing a little bit of XC to Enduro. He also impressed a lot of the gravity crowd to take 7th place.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>Chris Panozzo on Stage 3 rounded out the top 10. After doing well in several local Enduros, it was great effort to step it up with the deep field.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>Grubby's training partner and XC bandit Ben Forbes, also impressed a lot of people just missing out of the podium in 6th place.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>Mount Buller is the home of skinny singletrack and sweeping turns. Accuracy and flow is really important.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>Dean Lucas enjoying the view from Stage 4.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>Graves shows off some new disco moves to his mechanic Shaun Hughes.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>Jackson Davis letting her rip on one of the many 180 turns. It's a fine line between fast and blowing it.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>Ben Cory burying himself on Stage 5 earning 8th overall. If he was back in Colorado like in 2004, he would have earned a hearty Carbone's meatball sandwich for his effort.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>The "Stain" shows Dean Lucas how to apply chamois cream. Clearly Dean is not impressed.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>Ryan De La Rue blew his own mind taking 3rd place over the weekend. As one of Australia's original local Enduro racers, he's also a trail builder for the company responsible for the trail network around Mount Buller. No doubt he has ridden these trails more than anybody, but he handled the pressure that came with the experience. He'll take some new confidence into the first EWS round in NZ.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>With each stage being quite different, there were a lot of time comparisons going on. The boys trying to work out where and on which type of trail time was lost or gained.</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
<b>Jared Graves, Troy Brosnan, Ryan De La Rue, Richie Rude and Sam Hill is a pretty cool Enduro podium. Well done boys and thanks to TBS for the report!</b> -Tim Bardsley-Smith
Intro Graphic
The RockShox Enduro Challenge took place at Mount Buller in Australia’s Snowy Mountains. With both the 2013 and 2014 Enduro World Series Champs Jerome Clementz and Jared Graves in attendance it was set to be an early-season showdown. To make it even more interesting downhill weapons Sam Hill, Mike Jones and Troy Brosnan tried their hand at the Enduro discipline. Mix them up with Australia’s best local national series talent it was a race for the books.

Riders set off just before 9 am with a 4-hour window to complete the 30km route, featureing 6 stages and over 1000m vertical of climbing and descending. Two chair lift rides broke up the suffering. Each stage offered something slightly different, but as a whole the courses featured skinny singletrack and long corners where accuracy was key. Catching a pedal could end a race run, so timing and consistency was necessary for a solid run.

Jared Graves obliterated the Pro field with a 23.28.1 while Troy Brosnan took 2nd with a 24.27.0. Local pinner, Ryan De La Rue, claimed 3rd just 2-seconds off Troy's pace with a 24.29.7.

Enjoy the race report and audio interviews with some of mountain biking's best racers thanks to Tim Bardsley-Smith.


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