Race Report | Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series #2 – Riva
As part of this weekend’s Ziener BIKE Festival in Riva del Garda, the second stop of the Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series saw over 300 starters from 12 different nations, including many top international riders, descended on Northern Italy for this incredibly quick and rocky enduro race. After 25km and 1,450 metres of vertical ascent, Nico Lau and Anneke Beerten claimed the respective victories.
This particular stop of the Specialized-SRAM Series holds a special place in riders’ hearts – and not just because of its proximity to the stunning Lake Garda. With a consistent top quality field of riders, Riva draws hordes of spectators and press. Alongside Germany’s enduro elite, there were numerous international pros, including last year’s winner Nico Lau (FRA – Cube Action Team), Michal Prokop (CZE – Specialized Racing), the New Zealander Wyn Masters (NZL – Team Bulls DH) who claimed victory at 2015’s first stop-off. The women’s field was no less competitive with experienced EWS riders represented like Anneke Beerten (NED – Specialized Racing), the Gehrig sisters (CH – Ibis Cycles Racing) and Raphaela Richter (GER – Radon Factory Enduro Team) – so exciting racing was a guarantee.
Participants used Saturday to acquaint themselves with the four stages. After the long transfer to the start, riders were faced with narrow and rocky stages that demanded high levels of concentration, and there was no room for error as a result of the course’s slippery nature and frequent rocky descents. The fourth stage wasn’t just a test of their technical abilities, but endurance too – with 1,450 metres of climbing behind them already, the riders had to dig extra deep to maintain their performance.
As thick clouds shrouded any prospective views over the area, the first riders headed off at 8am on Sunday morning. With such wet conditions, it was a case of getting through the stages unharmed – a feat that Nico Lau excelled at, clocking the fastest times on every single stage and gaining a roughly 30-second advantage over second-placed Daniel Schemmel (AUT – DO-BIKER/SCOTT). Testament to his prowess, he even flatted on the final stage and finished on his rim! Fabian Scholz (GER – Focus Trail Team) grabbed third place ahead of Michal Prokop and Wyn Masters.
Amongst the Elite Women, last year’s overall winner Anneke Beerten claimed the top step of the podium ahead of Anita Gehrig (CH – Ibis Cycles Enduro Racing). The young Raphaela Richter (GER – Radon Factory Team) delivered an impressive performance, clocking the fastest female time on the first three stages before a crash during the final classification stage cost crucial time and left her in third place.
Remo Heutschi (CH) was the fastest rider in the Pro Masters’ category, with Nino Antic (GER – Giant Germany) taking second ahead of Christian Greub (CH – Radsport Frei).
Clemens Bachmann (GER – Freeriders Kochental) won the Amateur Men’s race with Henrik Grobert (GER – Freiburger Pilsner) and Alessandro Sepp (GER – Vogt Bike n Ride) completing the podium. The Amateur Women’s podium consisted of Jana Goetze (GER – Santa Claus Syndicate), Sabrina Wolf (AUT) and Anna Eberhard (CH – Grassi Enduro Racing).
After a smashing start to the season in Treuchtlingen, the competitors faced a more technically demanding course in Riva that pushed their endurance to the limits and presented them with remarkably different terrain to race on. The following stop-off on the Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series, taking place in Willingen on 13 and 14 June, is set to highlight the diverse nature of this enduro series.
Words: Aaron Steinke / Martin Stöckl Photos: Axel Brunst