POC Scottish Enduro Series | Round 3 Report and Video
Round 3 of the Scottish enduro series saw riders travel to the little town of Tomintoul, the highest village in the Highlands of Scotland in the prestigious Glenlivet estate – an area famed for the production of Whisky, but there was to be no ‘wee drams’ for the riders this time. With a course that covered almost 50km and just over 4,000ft of elevation according to my strava, riders were in for a long weekend.
Saturday practice saw Scotland return to winter like conditions, with temperatures struggling to reach double figures, cascading rain and driving wind. Many riders choose not to practice all 5 stages, with many opting to leave out stage 2 or stage 1 as they had the biggest liaisons. The course generally was a physical test as opposed to a technical test. The stages comprised of a mix of walkers’ paths and trail centre sections.
Short sprints, high speeds and endurance were the three words I would use to describe the race. It is fair to say that the course was perhaps not to everyone’s favour, some riders felt that the trails were too flat and pedally, however this is an enduro race and the The Scottish Enduro Series team took the decision this year to make each round different so riders face a multitude of challenges at each location. It just so happened that the challenge they faced here was one of fitness. After all, you have pedals for a reason. Don’t you?
Race day saw the sun return to the Promised Land and the clouds parted way to warm rays. Racers were primed and ready to go for an awesome day on the trails. Stage 1 was flat out from the start gate. Straight down a steep walkers path followed by a single right-hander – a 2 and a half-minute sprint then ensued with riders having to time their pedalling efforts carefully whilst avoiding catching the edge of the single rut on the exposed path.
It was crucial to get the power down here and time your efforts. The powerful Chris Hutchens staked his claim to defend his overall title from last year with a win on the stage, as did Roz Newman who looks set on another series win. One of the race favourites, Rab Wardell had problems with a dropped chain and finished the stage 12th forcing him to play catch up for the rest of the race.
After a tough liaison back to the top of the hill riders then made their way to stage 2. Similar in nature to stage 1, 2 also followed the path of a walkers’ trail but the gradient was less. With a small, rocky gully up top, it was crucial to keep the air in the tyres for the off camber sections towards the bottom of the stage. Physically it was one of the toughest stages of the race. Hutchens again proved he’s been putting in the training time by taking yet another stage win over Ben Cathro to give him a small margin over the rest of the field going into the trail centre stages. In the women’s race relative newcomer Eilidh Wells is finding her pace and would steal 12 seconds from Roz to take the win.
After sampling the delights from the feed station at the top of the hill for the final time riders began to head for stages 3 and 4. Both comprised of flowing trail centre singletrack with short sections of fresh cut loam in between. 3 began with a blast through the heather before dropping you onto the trail centre. A sprint up a small rise was vital to help carry speed for the rest of the trail. The trail then began to flow over several undulations, which resembled the humps on old Nessie’s back.
Riders could choose to either take black or red graded options on this part of the course, with the black sections being more direct but with a greater risk attached. A small fresh cut section filled with some tricky roots helped to finish a well-rounded stage, which would test all aspects of rider’s ability. Once again, Hutchens proved strongest of the group taking the stage win in front of Ronan Taylor. Roz Newman managed to find some seconds here against a hard charging Eilidh to take the win, it was going to be close.
Stage 4 was similar to 3 and once again took in aspects of the red trail centre with some fresh cut turns. These turns were incredibly awkward and many riders struggled to deal with them during racing. It was thought that CUBE ACTION TEAM rider Scott Laughland might be able to capitalize on the rest of the field here with his technical skill, alas it wasn’t to be with him finishing the stage 9th and taking home 7th overall. Race leader, Chris Hutchens missed a crucial turn on the racetrack, instead following the trail centre red trail. This would ultimately cost him the race win, despite this he still managed to claw back 6th on the stage. Perhaps he was going for a strava KOM instead? Ben Cathro seized his chance and took the stage win and with it the race lead.
The final stage of the day was less than a minute long. 10 seconds of trail centre then cut left onto natural furrows with big, closely spaced bumps. It proved a real struggle to carry speed over these. The stage finished next the Glenlivet trails café where riders could grab a coffee to help get them back to Tomintoul. This rather short stage wasn’t without drama though with CUBE UK rider Thomas Mitchell suffering a similar fate to Hutchens on stage 4 by missing a turn and having to dismount and run back up the trail. Cathro and Hutchens split the stage win between them with a time of only 55 seconds. Again Eilidh pushed hard and took the win in the last two stages closely followed by Roz. After an intense day’s racing Roz managed to take the win by just 3 seconds, we can expect some great battles from these two.
After the dust had settled the results looked like this;
Cathro had taken the win over Hutchens by a mere 3 seconds with Tom Mitchell taking his first elite podium in 3rd ,15 seconds back. Roz Newman had done enough to take the top step, but it was really close!
There was an awesome turn out outside the elite field with a strong turnout in the “Lite” race – a slightly shortened race circuit.
Full results can be found here;
Thank you to The Scottish Enduro Series team for putting on another amazing race weekend and the marshals for braving the wind and the rain and always greeting us with a smile. Laggan Wolftrax is next on the 16th of August and promises to be another exciting weekend. To enter of find out more about the series check out their website
Words: Thomas Mitchell Photos: No Fuss Events