It’s just a few months since Tracy Moseley and Jared Graves were crowned the 2014 Enduro World Champions in Italy - and now the search to find their successors begins on the other side of the world in New Zealand.
Round one of the Enduro World Series has landed in Rotorua and the action at Giant Toa Enduro looks set to be as explosive as its start line at the Pohutu Geyser - with no fewer than 15 World Champions from across cycling taking part.
Saturday’s race will feature some of the biggest names in enduro, including Jerome Clementz, Fabien Barel, Damien Oton, Justin Leov, Tracy Moseley, Anne Caroline Chausson and Cecile Ravanel. But there’s also going to be a few big name downhillers thrown into the mix to keep things interesting: Sam Hill, Wyn Masters, Brook Macdonald, Sam Blenkinsop and Greg Minnaar to name just a few.
However, one notable absentee will be reigning World Champion Jared Graves. The Aussie picked up a shoulder injury in training a couple of weeks ago and so will now start his season in Ireland in May.
Jared explains: “While back home training I had a big crash where I wrapped myself around a tree and ended up with both shoulders separated and significant muscle tearing around the shoulder blade in my back. I’ve been out and about riding lightly and slowly, but it's not possible for me to race this weekend in Rotorua. It’s been a very rough two weeks and I’m pretty gutted to miss my first major race as World Champ.”
The stacked field of 400 pro and amateur riders will take to the trails of the Whakarewarewa Forest, including the biggest women’s race to date. Over eighty women will compete - a new record for the Enduro World Series. There’s also a healthy number of entrants in the new under 21 category, a great sign for the year to come.
Neil Gellatly, organiser of the Giant Toa Enduro, said: “Rotorua is famous for its trails and it’s a dream come true to open them up to the world’s best riders. There’s a really passionate cycling community here and the whole place is buzzing with excitement about Saturday’s race - I can’t wait.”
And Chris Ball, Enduro World Series’ Managing Director, added: “Everything looks set for an amazing start to 2015 here in Rotorua. The trails are incredible, the race will be challenging, our amateur and women’s entries are great and we have an insane amount of the world’s best bike riders here too. This is going to be a classic."
To catch all of Saturday’s action as it happens, including a live webcast of the final stage of the day, tune into the live race feed on www.enduroworldseries.com on Saturday, March 28th from 7am NZDT or 6pm UTC on Friday, March 27th.