Race Report | Big Ride Cannondale-SRAM Championship Tui, Spain

The past weekend I headed out to Tui in Spain for the first round of the Spanish national enduro, the Big Ride Cannondale – Sram Championship. Having been to a few of these events over the past couple of seasons I knew a good weekend’s riding and racing was in store, despite the very ‘UK’ weather forecasts. This round would be a little different however, as Tui in the Galician region of Spain out on the north west coast and borders with Portugal. With this location they set it up for racing to be held over the two days of the weekend, so Saturday we set off from the paddock in Spain, rode over to Valencia in Portugal for 2 stages and back across to Tui in Spain for a 3rd stage. Sunday was 4 stages held on Mt Aloia which stands above Tui, all in all over 70km of riding to cover and plenty of climbing.

It was pretty grim weather for the first Big Ride Enduro of 2015
It was pretty grim weather for the first Big Ride Enduro of 2015

The going was made that much tougher as the weather was pretty nasty for most of the weekend, practice Friday was consistent rain and whilst the stages were wet they were still pretty grippy due to the sandy nature of the ground, brake pads would suffer this weekend! My own stupid oversight meant I rode the full road to the very top of the mountain twice during practice, needless to say my legs were feeling it come raceway, along with being soaked through meaning this weekend wouldn’t be an easy ride.

Saturday’s stages in Portugal were muddy but still fun, and the rain held off.
Saturday’s stages in Portugal were muddy but still fun, and the rain held off.

Stage 1 | started fast and straight, a quick fire track sprint and into muddy singletrack broken by some track pedal sections. The singletrack parts needed attacking to stay in the main rut and down the steeper parts to keep speed and succeed, not easy though and a tough 7-8 min stage.

Stage 2 | flowed a lot more and put a grin on everyone’s face, a really fun trail through jungle like forest, 3-4 mins here.

One side of this bridge was Tui in Spain, the other Valencia in Portugal.
One side of this bridge was Tui in Spain, the other Valencia in Portugal.

Stage 3 | and back in Spain, this stage finished in the race paddock and was also to be used as stage 7 on Sunday. A pedally start before dropping into some fast and rocky singletrack and another pedal before dropping into the arena.

Stage 4 | and after the constant rain through Saturday night and off and on through the raceway this stage was insanely wet. All the water making its way down the mountain and we seemed to be riding down it. I swear 50% of the trail was underwater, 8-9 mins of pedalling through hub deep puddles up fire track climb over rocky sections, it had a bit of everything.

Stage 5 | 5-6mins of fast track into steep muddy and technical sections with big rocks to commit and drop off to keep clean and flowing through.
Stage 6 A long one! 9-10 mins with a steep rock to get down before tricky singletrack, then off and on a fire track broken up by singletrack sections of varying difficulty, finally dropping onto flatter tracks to pedal along to the finish

Stage 7 | back onto the one used for stage 3, 2-3 mins of pedalling to fast singletrack before pedalling into the arena.

Jose Borges, local Portuguese rider was taking chunks of time out of everyone all weekend.
Jose Borges, local Portuguese rider was taking chunks of time out of everyone all weekend.

Sunday was a brutal day, 4.5hrs to cover the 4 stages but it felt like more, with the weather soaking you through, the transitions a mix of pedalling up soft and sandy tracks or walking up rocky trails. Being entered into the master category I was sitting 3rd overnight with local Toni Perez leading and placing second overall also, but a step in front of everyone was Portuguese rider Jose Borges, leading with some very impressive times. Knowing it would be a tough day I set out to be consistent, fortunately that plan paid off and I managed to stay on the bike on all stages and avoided punctures or mechanicals. After crossing the line I was greeted with a beer which was very welcomed! Wash the bike and myself and wait for results, the sun even came out in time for podiums. Consistency paid off, I managed to win masters category and take 5th overall. Borges suffered gear failure on stages 6 and 7 and so lost his lead overall but held onto 2nd place, such was the lead he had built up already. So elite and overall winner went to Jacob Santana, an experienced Spanish racer that I recognise from racing DH world cups in the late 90’s, still racing hard.

Jacobo Santana stayed fast and consistent to take the win this weekend.
Jacobo Santana stayed fast and consistent to take the win this weekend.
The sun came out in time for podium presentations at least!
The sun came out in time for podium presentations at least!

Next round is to be held down in Ojen near Malaga in the south of Spain, and being in June it is set to be a scorcher! Get yourself there if you can.
Thanks always to Cannondale, Mavic, ION cameras, RRP, MRP, ION products, Magura, Renthal for their support.

For more info on when the next stage of the Enduro series is just visit: enduro-mtb.com

Words: Aidan Bishop