The Enduro World Series crosses the Atlantic this week to Aspen-Snowmass for the Yeti Cycles Big Mountain Enduro presented by Shimano.
The first North American race of the year will take place in some of the USA's highest mountains, at the iconic Aspen-Snowmass resort in Colorado.
The 450 riders will face six stages over two days of racing, all at a lung busting altitude of 10,000 feet. The resort's chairlifts mean riders don't face too much in the way of climbing at just 1700 feet–but the elevation means even a modest climb can be brutal. But with 15,000 feet of descent down classic Colorado singletrack as a reward, it will definitely be worth it.
In the men's competition there is just one question–can anyone stop Richie Rude? The Yeti Fox Shox rider has won three of the four races so far this season and cemented his lead over the rest of the field when he won in La Thuile by over a minute and a half just a couple of weeks ago. He won't have Sam Hill (Chain Reaction Cycles Paypal) chasing him down this time, but Damien Oton (Devinci Global Racing) and Florian Nicolai (Rocky Mountain Urge bp) who sit second and third respectively in the overall rankings will be trying hard to prevent the American taking another win.
Cecile Ravanel (Commencal Vallnord Enduro Team) will start the race as the hot favorite–she has dominated the women's field this season and shows no sign of slowing down. She won't be without competition though, as her main points rival Isabeau Courdurier (SUNN) will be chasing hard alongside Anneke Beerten (GT Factory Racing), who returns from illness. Fresh faces could also throw in an upset this weekend: both Casey Brown (Trek Factory Racing) and Andreane Lathier Nadeau (Rocky Mountain Urge bp) managed to podium at their first Enduro World Series races earlier this year and definitely have the potential to do the same here.
In the Under 21 Men's category, Adrien Dailly (Lapierre Gravity Republic) remains the man to beat. The young Frenchman stormed the last round in La Thuile, finishing the first day of racing with a time that would have put him third in the overall competition. Fellow Frenchman Sebastien Claquin (Rocky Mountain Urge bp) won't back down, though, and will be pushing him hard. And both will have to be wary of the 40-rider-strong field, which is one of the biggest they've had to face. In the Master's category, Karim Amour still leads the points and will roll off the start line as the favorite here too.
"We at BME are excited to show the world what Colorado riding is all about, especially the long courses we put together for 2016,” said Brandon Ontiveros of Big Mountain Enduro. “For this year, riders can expect a few 3,000- to 4,000-foot descents, very physical stages and new, raw trail that will challenge the best of the best, all while showcasing some of the fastest trails on the 2016 EWS tour.”