Fox/Giant's Hayden Lee is on a little racing tour of Europe and is hitting the podium on a regular basis. The Tauranga rider has been mixing it up with Europe's best enduro racers and looks at home standing up there next to them!
The second race of the European Enduro Series presented by XS Power Drink took place during the Dakine Trailfox festival in Flims/Switzerland. A starting field with more than 260 riders fought for the fastest times and precious points for the overall ranking of the series. The fastest riders of the day were Ines Thoma and René Wildhaber.
After the kick-off event in Punta Ala, Flims awaited the riders with totally different terrain: treeline instead of sea views, alpine terrain instead of Mediterranean trails. With 1900 meters, the sum of descents was about the same as in Punta Ala, but thanks to lift-access to stage 1, riders only had to climb 800 meters during the race.
But the race was still demanding. Already in the first stage, with rutted rock sections, steep terrain and narrow corners, demanding full concentration and perfect bike control. René Wildhaber (SUI - Trek, Dakine) outshone his competitors and won this stage with an amazing 20 second lead!
After a short uphill section, the stages two and three were faster with many roots. Fourth stage followed the well-known Runca-Flottrail and lead with countless berms and many north-shore elements to the bottom of the valley, being very physical with two long pedal sections.
The fifth - and final - stage of the day was high-speed again: The trail followed a small mountain ridge with some roots and lots of loose soil and ended directly in the event area at the RockResort in Laax.
The Pro Men's field was dominated by René Wildhaber: With only 21:16.52 minutes for all five stages, he took first place with almost 40 seconds gap to Ludovic May (SUI - Canyon Factory Enduro) and Lukas Anrig (SUI - Norco World Team). Hayden Lee (NZL - Giant/Fox Gravity NZ) and Jamie Nicoll (NZL - Polygon UR) got fourth and fifth.
With a total stage time of 25:34.24, Ines Thoma (GER - Canyon Factory Enduro) was the fastest lady on the mountain, closely followed by Anita Gehrig (SUI - Specialized Twins Racing) and Meggie Bichard (NZL - Specialized NZ). Caro Gehrig (SUI), the second half of Specialized Twin Racing, secured fourth place in front of Lorraine Truong (SUI - Norco Leysin).
In the Masters category, Remo Heutschi (SUI ) won, followed by Benedikt Purner (AUT - O'fetzn Racing) and Urs Stadelmann (SUI - Velotek-Kalag).
The Podium in the Amateurs Men's class consisted of three Flims Locals: With a time of 22:13.52, Armin Beeli (SUI - Suisse) cleared the stages fastest with Ueli Guntli (SUI - all in) on second and Gia Regettli (SUI) on third place. Mirjam Wieser (SUI) had the fastest time of the Amateur Women, Sabrina Morell (SUI) got second and Sarah Wunderlin (SUI) completed the podium.
In conclusion, Flims offered a perfect race weekend for the high-calibre field of riders: The EES stop and the other races of the Trailfox Bike Festival showed the variety of the trails of the region and the true fascination of enduro.