Enduro World Series, Whistler. Photo courtesy of EWS.

The first race of the Enduro World Series takes place this weekend so we approached photographer, pundit and sticky beak, Sven Martin to gives us his predictions for the race and the season. Sven Martin will be beaming live images of the racing, both EWS and World Cup DH and XC all summer long on the Instagram account @off_track.

Bike: The first race of the EWS is this weekend. It’s been a long winter of wondering what it will become. Let’s hear some of your predictions?

Sven: The races, they are all so different, aren’t they? Last weekend featured heavy mud steep tracks at Metabief. Then the weekend before, in Lake Garda, the course featured slick rocks and short, all downhill sections. So the beauty is it’s going to be hard to predict winners like at the World Cups. It might be easier to predict who will be consistently good all year long.

Bike: But this, the first formal race where every rider will try their luck, is a bit different. Everyone is here now. All contenders lined up in their corners.

Sven: It’s not any different from any Super Enduro race for many years. This weekend’s race features well-known track and routes. But people have been putting their work in. More than ever before.

Enduro World Series, Winter Park, Colorado. Photo courtesy of EWS.

Bike: Many newer riders, like Beerten, the Santa Cruz Syndicate, Curtis Keene, etc., have all put their names in the hat, how will they fair?

Sven: I’d call Anne-Caroline Chausson and Tracy Moseley before Anneke Beerten. Anneke hasn’t raced any big talent yet. She has come along way in a short time, but this will be tougher. I think you can expect to see Jerome Clementz, Nico Vouilloz, Fabien Barel, Dan Atherton, Nicolas Lau, Remy Absalon in the running. Also a whole lot of names most non enduro followers won’t even know, or are at least not household names. Those guys will surprise a few of the “big name newcomers”.

Bike: Have you spoken to Chris Ball recently? This must be as nerve wracking for him as it is for any racer because it is the first race of a brave new venture.

Sven: He’s excited. The races have all sold out, and for the most part, should all run smooth because the series is built on top of existing structure and events.

Bike: What is the race course at Punta Ala, Italy, this weekend looking like?

Sven: Nico Vouilloz says it’s one of the most technical tracks he has ridden and also one of the most physical. It’s going to be fast and long but still tight. Nico Vouilloz and Fabien Barel were one second apart at another race this weekend after 20 minutes racing.

Enduro World Series, Val d'Isere, France. Photo courtesy of EWS.

Bike: What about predictions for the overall?

Sven: We have always seen certain people do well at certain races – Super Enduro, French Enduro, Mega, Mountain of Hell, Trans-Provence – but there hasn’t been a race where ALL the world’s established enduro racers and the new crop of converts are all together and battling it out. That is what will make this special.

I like to read between the lines, and between the overalls. Like at Garda or the recent UK race (I forget which) Joe Barnes was fastest in every stage but then flatted in one. Game over, no one remembers who won what stage and there is no prize for stage wins – sadly. I’m going to keep a stage win counter going. Utter stage domination for the guys that mess up or just can’t go fast uphill. There are a couple of fast dudes that can’t put it together for a full year or weekend.

Bike: Thank you for your time Sven.

Sven Martin will be beaming live images of the racing, both EWS and World Cup DH and XC all summer long on the Instagram account @off_track.