EPIC “WYN” IN GIANT TOA ENDURO

Kiwi athlete Wyn Masters officially lived up to his name Sunday, winning the first major race of Crankworx Rotorua, the GIANT Toa Enduro, by mastering a truly gnarly course.

It was Wyn's first EWS win

It was Wyn's first EWS win

Weather reports predicting rain would hit early in the day proved all too accurate as the racers, not half an hour into the race, found themselves giving up mint-condition tracks for messy mud bogs capable of cobbling even the best riders.

Wyn tackling the rocks on Rocky Horror and Riff Raff

Wyn tackling the rocks on Rocky Horror and Riff Raff

“My toughest stage was three, but it was the stage I was most looking forward to. Someone told me I was second in the race at the top, and then I tried to go way too hard, and it was the biggest mess. I’ve never seen that stage look like that – I couldn’t get out of the ruts,” said Masters.

Matt Walker pulled into the second spot at the first EWS of the year

Matt Walker pulled into the second spot at the first EWS of the year

The track in question, Hatu Patu, was billed as crash and carnage central even on a sunny day, and having bounced off the bike pretty quickly, Masters was under the impression he was out of contention until hearing he was just 20 seconds behind his brother, Eddie Masters, going into Stage 6.

Cecile Ravanel looking clean early on in the day

Cecile Ravanel looking clean early on in the day

“I would have been stoked to be on the podium with him, but I had to be above him,” said Wyn, noting he poured on the gas. This is the first time at the top of the podium for Masters in the Enduro World Series and Crankworx, and he was, in the end, joined by his brother, who took third place.

Eddie Masters took 3rd, standing on the podium with his brother

Eddie Masters took 3rd, standing on the podium with his brother

Ratboy came in 8th today!

Ratboy came in 8th today!

Meanwhile, fellow Kiwi, and last year’s winner, Matt Walker, was thrilled to pull into second for this first big race of the season. After winning the GIANT Toa Enduro last year, Walker, a King of Crankworx contender, injured his hand and spent much of 2016 in recovery, leaving him hoping to make a comeback.

Anita Gehig was third behind Cecile and Ines

Anita Gehig was third behind Cecile and Ines

“I know it's a really long season, so starting strong wasn't really a focus, but it was definitely in the back of my mind,” he said. “This is something that I wanted to achieve this year - definitely some good momentum today.”

Richie Rude would have been the last man on course today and suffered the worst of conditions

Richie Rude would have been the last man on course today and suffered the worst of conditions

If there was one man who couldn’t seem to catch his rhythm, it was 2016 Enduro World Series Champion Richie Rude (USA), who finished 20th. Seeded in top spot coming into the race, Rude had the misfortune of riding last on the well-worn trails. “I would say I did the best I could have… there were three, four hundred people in front of me just chewing the tracks up… it’s hard to go last,” said Rude.

Jared Graves getting that white kit well and truly muddied

Jared Graves getting that white kit well and truly muddied

Weather drastically affected the results of the race, which wasn’t set to be easy either way. This year’s GIANT Toa saw the athletes ride 64-kilometres, with 2,079 metres of elevation drop and seven stages of racing. None of the top-30 EWS riders hit the podium, though the women’s field held steady to predictions.

Ines Thoma took second, with Isabeau Courdurier out through illness the podium spots were up for grabs

Ines Thoma took second, with Isabeau Courdurier out through illness the podium spots were up for grabs

Enduro World Series Champion Cecile Ravanel (FRA) absolutely annihilated the field in the women’s race, finishing three minutes up and winning all but one stage. Pleased with her results, she admitted she had nerves coming into the day. “It was the first international race of the year, so it’s hard to say if I’m in good shape or not,” she said.

Cecile was over 3 minutes ahead of her nearest competitor!

Cecile was over 3 minutes ahead of her nearest competitor!

Gambling correctly she would need a tire set-up for mud, she won the first six stages handily, but nevertheless looked exhausted by the time her seven-plus hours of riding finished at Village Green on the edge of Lake Rotorua. The one stage she left on the table, Stage 7, went to Katy Winton (GBR)—her first EWS stage win ever.

This lady can ride fast in all conditions

This lady can ride fast in all conditions

It was safe to say Katy Winton was stoked with her stage win and 5th place overall!

It was safe to say Katy Winton was stoked with her stage win and 5th place overall!

Ines Thoma and Anita Gehrig, second and third respectively, remained consistent throughout, Thoma remaining in the top three or four from stages two through seven, and Gehrig never slipping further than sixth spot in the same stages. They finished 16th and 18th on the first stage in the pouring rain.

Wynner.....

Wynner.....

 

Men’s results:
1. Wyn Masters (NZL) New Plymouth             37:31.72
2. Matt Walker (NZL)   Rotorua                       37:35.40
3. Eddie Masters (NZL) New Plymouth           37:37.95

 

Women’s results:
1. Cecile RAVANEL (FRA)                               44:36.63
2. Ines THOMA (GER)                                     47:51.65
3. Anita GEHRIG (SUI)                                    48:25.26

Mark Scott, 10th place

Mark Scott, 10th place

Full Results Here

Photo Credits - Enduro World Series