The 2016 Enduro World Series drew to a close in its traditional home of Finale Ligure, and the Bluegrass Finale Enduro powered by SRAM will go down in the history books for a myriad of reasons.
Cecile Ravanel (Commencal Vallnord Enduro) won her first Enduro World Champion title, Richie Rude (Yeti/Fox Shox) became the first man to be crowned World Champion back-to-back and two legends of the sport-Nico Vouilloz (Lapierre Gravity Republic) and Anne Caroline Chausson (Ibis Cycles Enduro Race Team)-announced their retirement from professional racing. As if that weren’t enough, Martin Maes (GT Factory Racing) took his first-ever EWS race win.
Starting high in the Ligurian mountains, 400 riders spent two days and seven stages riding their way through sun-drenched trails down to the inviting waters of the Mediterranean far below. In the men's race, Martin Maes stated his intention clearly on day one: winning all three of Saturday's stages. He eased off the gas on Sunday to secure his position and the tactic paid off, as he claimed his first win by a margin of 17 seconds over second-placed Richie Rude. Consistency all weekend topped by a stage win saw Nico Lau (Cube Action Team) take third place.
Speaking about his race win, Martin said: "I'm so stoked to win. I've been waiting for so long for this and I'm just so happy for my team, GT, for my sponsors and for all the people who have been supporting me over the years."
Richie added: "To lead the series from the first race and then to come second today and get the overall again feels amazing. I was playing it safe today but I was having a lot of fun too. This was my chance to get the double and I got it. Now I'm just looking forward to a couple of weeks off."
In the women's category, the race results perfectly reflected the overall series rankings, with Cécile coming first, Isabeau Courdurier (SUNN) in second and Anita Gehrig (Ibis Cycles Enduro Race Team) in third. The overall series podium was the same, and Cécile will start the 2017 season with the number one plate on her bike.
Cécile said: "I had a little crash on stage one and that woke me up. I knew I had the title already so I was just riding for pleasure today. I've been working towards this moment all year and so has my team, so it's great to be able to do this for them."
Karim Amour who won the race against the rest of the masters field, but it was Michael Broderick of the USA who finished the day as the Master World Champion. His dominance all year meant that even the broken ribs he sustained in Valberg couldn’t stop him from claiming the series.
Raphaela Richter (Radon Magura Factory Racing) stormed to victory in both the race and the series in the U21 women's category. Her U21 male counterpart Adrien Dailly (Lapierre Gravity Republic) followed suit winning the race and becoming the World Champion in the process.
In the team competition, Rocky Mountain Urge bp continued its strong season to leave Finale as the top team of the season.
Chris Ball, Managing Director of the Enduro World Series said: "Our 30th event, our fourth round of champions and all in the place where it all began, the stunning Finale Ligure. The local team did an outstanding job of trail building and preparing for this year, as did the riders for holding it together on seven insane stages after a long season of racing around the globe. A massive congratulations to our 2016 World Champions and a huge thanks to all of our riders, teams, fans, organizers and supporters who are the reason the series can happen."
Results from this weekend can be found here.