EWS 2015 | The State of Play – Rider and Team Roundup
As the World Series rolls inevitably towards the opening round of its third season, with eight incredible destinations, a record number of team entries and an elite field separated by a gnat’s whisker, it looks like this will be the most exciting yet. With the addition of an experienced in-house EWS video team, we can look forward to more coverage than ever before, with new streaming race videos, team highlights and behind the scenes action direct from the events.
The EWS are also looking to the future with the introduction of an Under 21 age category in both the men’s and women’s competition, replacing the junior men category. “This new category is designed to highlight the incredible talent that is emerging in the 17-20 age group and give them a platform to showcase and develop their skills over a four year period, rather than the traditional two. It’s hoped that by creating an Under 21 category for young women, more girls may be encouraged to try their hand at racing enduro.” State the EWS team.
For the last few months there has been much speculation circulating about team changes, with the opening of registration the cats are now well and truly out of the bag. Twenty nine official teams have been selected to compete for the coveted team world title. Many of them remain unchanged, but there are some new brands joining the series and some big changes to some rosters, it is time to have a look at what is new!
So let’s start with our champions, there are to be no changes for Jared who races for the Yeti / Fox Factory team. He starts this season with the SB6c (bike check), a formidable weapon and the bike he always wanted. With a full winter of tuning and familiarisation behind him – he will be faster than ever, but this year he has a target on his back, and will be chased by a stacked field. Many thought that his team mate Richie Rude would ‘jump ship’ back to DH, but he seems stoked on enduro and will be racing another full season. Still only 20 years old, this rapid junior comes into 2015 with a wealth of experience and improved stamina.
Trek Factory Racing will be looking to hold onto their number one team ranking for another year and are fielding the same powerful team. Tracy Moseley headlines and will be racing under the full Trek Factory Racing banner (she raced under her own T-Mo Racing Team last season). Last year Tracy allowed time for XC races and coaching camps – this year she is 100% enduro, can she achieve the triple? Joined by the two machines, Justin Leov and Rene Wildhaber, this looks to be a winning package.
Canyon Factory Racing keeps the same lineup and sponsors, Fabien Barel is back and with his fairytale victory in Finale solidifying his recovery, he will be hungry for the overall title in 2015. But let’s not forget Joe Barnes, when Fabien went down last season, Joe had to step up, and step up he did. We are looking forward to seeing him trade some places at the front of the pack, with his current form he will certainly not be content in the number two spot, could he win the Scottish round this year?
Jerome Clementz will once again be battling it out on board the Cannondale Jekyll, but his signature yellow will be no more as he moves to Alpinestars as his protection and gear sponsor. This is an exciting move for Jerome as it will allow him to spend more time working on product development, but it may worry photographers used to looking out for the yellow missile. Team mates Ben Cruz and Mark Weir will be hot on his heels and looking to make a run at the overall team win.
In the Specialized camp, could this finally be the year for Anneke Beerten, she is fitter than ever and got a taste of the podium in 2014? There have been big changes for Cecile Ravanel too as she joins Commencal for 2015, with a new bike and new team, can Cecile find those elusive seconds to threaten Tracy or Anne Caro for the top spot.
Then there are the legends. Fit and recovered, Nico Vouilez will be racing for the Lapierre Gravity Republic, but can the 39 year old still duel with the young guns? Another legend Cedric Gracia will be racing for Santa Cruz Factory Team, he will be sure to entertain the crowd, but can he put down some damaging times? There will be legends from DH too with guest appearances at some of the rounds; it looks like Chain Reaction Cycles will let Sam Hill have a taste of enduro this season, Peaty and Bryceland looks like they will get involved, and Specialized DH superstar Troy Brosnan is even going to put down some runs at the opening NZ round. We think that everyone is looking forward to seeing how these guys perform against enduro specialists.
There have not been many changes to the main teams then; after such a successful opening season in 2013, many managers re-signed riders on two year contracts, so we will perhaps see more movement at the end of this year. What is perhaps more exciting is what is going on in the new teams. With more team entries than ever before, we are seeing some exciting new brands on the team roster.
After introducing their prototype HD3 last season, it was clear that Ibis had big plans. Now they are entering the circuit all guns blazing, complete with the new HD3 bike and the innovative 741 wheels. Ibis has a strong female line up this year, Anne Caro Chausson is sure to enter 2015 with a grim determination to take the crown, T-Mo will be in for a fight. The Gehrig sisters also reinforce the female line up, both capable of top 10 finishes. In the men’s race, Ibis are hoping that this will be Gary Forrest’s season, certainly the fastest rider on the circuit last year still holding down a full time job; this year he has turned pro, and has been training hard 9-5, expect him to come out swinging in NZ. Another exciting addition is Conor Lavelle, the 18 year old from Ireland finished 3rd in the juniors last year and is looking forward to racing the full season, his future is bright.
Speaking of bright futures, Greg Callaghan surprised everyone last year; with his crushing consistency he took 16th overall, while driving round Europe in a camper van and living the life. He now joins the Cube Action Team, an altogether more professional outfit. Will the bigger support and the Stereo 160 Super HPC push him into the top 10 this year? He joins Nico Lau, Scott Laughland, Gusti Wildhaber, André Wagenknecht and Ludwig Döhl, all fast lads, so inter-team competition will be high.
Hamburg brand Bergamont is stepping up to enduro too with their new Trailster 140mm bike. Completing all the rounds will be their two new headline racers Joseph Nation and Katy Winton. Joseph finished a solid 43rd last season and shot to fame when he won the 4th round of the Specialized SRAM Enduro Series in Willingen. Katy Winton may only be 22 but the Scottish pocket rocket has been training with some of the fastest riders in the sport, after a solid top 10 last year, can she break into the top 5 in 2015? Joining the pair in some rounds will be the rambunctious Kiwi, Ed Masters, who has been providing some comic relief to the enduro world with his novel training videos, it will be interesting to see how this rowdy downhiller does on the EWS circuit, perhaps he will just find his own line.
In the red dirt of Rotorua we shall see how the season will play out, it is not long to wait now.
Words: Trev Worsey