EWS Tasmania - Straight From The Athletes Mouths

It was as if mother nature had turned her back on the Enduro World Series this year, what Chris Ball and the team have done to anger the weather gods we still aren't sure! With two rain soaked races to begin the season, there will be plenty of wrecked kit, bikes and bodies praying for sunny race in Madeira! Amidst the team video's and press releases we thought we'd get in touch with a bunch of racers that caught our eye and would, no doubt, give us their honest opinions surrounding the EWS in Tasmania. 

 

Isabeau Coudurier

We've been waiting for the day Isabeau took to the top step of the podium and it has finally arrived. After a DNF in Rotorua she was hungry for a good result and she totally blew it out of the water. It's great to see a battle in the ladies field, for once it's not predictable at all!

How was EWS Tasmania for you? 
The EWS in Tasmania was for me one of the best race I've ever done. The landscape, the nice people, the wildlife and the trails were amazing. The work that has been done on the trails was simply incredible and the race day ran very smoothly thanks to the marshals and many volunteers. The crowd was also massive and very enthusiastic which was a true help to maintain a positive mind in such hard conditions. I started my day with the only goal to cross the finish line with a big smile on my face and no regrets. After being sick in Rotorua and a DNF on the first EWS, I had no pressure and I was just really happy to feel better. 

The first three stages I had so much fun ! Drifting and sliding my way down. I was told I won the three stages at lunch and it was a real relieve. I have worked hard this winter and winning the first three stages proved me it paid off ! After lunch, I knew Cecile could catch me so I decided to keep going the same way I started. Charging hard, keeping some smooth lines and having a hell of a good time! I couldn't believe I won by the end of the day. I shared this moment with my best friends that came from France and my team. Tasmania was a blast and will always remember this race! 

What have you done differently this year to challenge Cecile?
What people don't know about me most of the time is that I'm also a simple student going to school all winter long. I study marketing and this winter was the last one to complete my Master degree. Which means I had a lot of classes and tons of work. I spend less time on my enduro bike but much more time in the gym, on my road bike and on my bmx. I only ride enduro on Sundays. The more I have pressure the better I work whether it's at school or at the trainings. I put a lot of efforts in balancing all of those activities and my coach Laurent Solliet (Extrain) was the key person to help me. He has been my coach for 4 years now and know my student athlete life well. He also know my weaknesses and made me work on it this winter. To challenge Cecile I had to improved my fitness but also to work on my mental. I had a barrier in my head. I saw Cecile as unbeatable and this winter I had to gain confidence. I know I still have plenty of opportunities to keep on improving and I am looking forward already for the next winter as it will be my first one full time dedicated to mountain bike. Lastly, having fun on my bike is and will always be the key for me. I'm passionate and fun is my fuel to be fast ! 

 

Caro and Anita Gehrig

The twins from team Ibis are surely a phenomenon of mountain biking, how often is that that twin sisters are competing at the top of their sport and pulling podium places? The EWS in Tasmania was a mixed bag for the girls, with Caro coming in in 7th place and Anita down in an uncharacteristic 19th. 

Caro had her spare tube tangle in her front wheel having a big effect on her result

Caro had her spare tube tangle in her front wheel having a big effect on her result

How was EWS Tasmania for you?
Anita - Tasmania was just a mind blowing experience. You could just feel that that whole little town was involved into the event and everyone put so much love and effort into it. The trails surprised us big time, who would have thought we would find the gnar there! Come race day the Aussies came in thousands and lined every single rack, such a sick crowd. For both of us the race wasn't a really lucky one. Caro had the run of her life and smashed podium worthy stages times until disaster struck and her spare tube got wrapped around her front wheel in the middle of a stage. As for myself I was on the same boat, my rear brake completely quit it's service and I had to ride the majority of the day with only one brake. Not an easy task on world class tracks. It was just not meant to be but we are still stoked on the event and can't wait to see a bit more of Tassie, as we take a few days to explore here. 

Anita rode with just one brake for most of the day

Anita rode with just one brake for most of the day

Do you both influence each others decisions regarding tyre choice and run the same or do you each have a favourite for the wet conditions? 
Anita - Yes we do, we basically decide and discuss together what makes sense and then we would both run the same. In wet we would usually ride a Maxxis Shorty in the front, but for Tassie we run a Minion DHF front and rear. As there was many rocks slabs, we felt that it would be more in the favour to have grip there. Honestly we also did not quite think it would rain so much... 

What was you favourite and least favourite stage in Tassie and why? 
Caro - I loved every single stage of them, I just had a blast riding there. They had such a great variety of trails and some really tricky sections that kept you on your toes. Probably my favourite stage though was 4, really hard in the top with more than one nasty rock garden to clear and then big jumps in the lower section, I love some airtime!! #sendislife ;-)

 

Katy Winton

Katy was again, probably right at home in the mud, hailing from Scotland in the UK she is no stranger to sloppy conditions. She's stoked on her awesome start to the season and we are just as excited as her to see how the year pans out!

Katy's big wheels kicking up splash rather than dust come race day

Katy's big wheels kicking up splash rather than dust come race day

How was EWS Tasmania for you? 
It was such a fun weekend, practice was so good. The rain on race day definitely made it a hard day out, I wore a jacket the whole second half of the day and was still cold!! I wasn't riding my best so I'm really really happy to have come 5th! 

Which bike did you ride (Trek Slash or Remedy) and why? 
I rode the Trek Slash 29, it's the bike I'll race all year and it was perfect for Tasmania. The challenging big rock sections mixed with the high speed this bike was in its element!!  

 

Justin Leov

You might have read by now in Justin Leov's diary that the EWS in Tasmania was no walk in the park, in fact it was a walk straight to getting pneumonia!

How was EWS Tasmania for you? 
Really tough, being sick for the week then racing in the rain for 7 hours was a tough race for me. I did however really enjoy the trails over there. The stages were at a good level. 

What was your highlight and lowlight of the weekend and why? 
Highlight was the trails. A good mixture of rock slabs and ultimate flow. Not a lot of vertical but really good use of that vertical. The lowlight was the weather, such a shame to have so much rain on what would of been brilliant racing in the dry. 

 

Wyn Masters

After his brilliant 'Wyn' on home turf in Rotorua it was always going to be interesting seeing how this mental advantage would carry Wyn into the rest of the season. Mechanicals and the weather soon caused havoc with this race in Tassie though.....

How was EWS Tasmania for you? 
Was a good time for sure awesome trails and location, just didn't have the best day racing wise but enjoyed it anyway.

So, was Tassie harder or easier than Rotorua? What were the differences?
It was similar just comes down to how you approach it mentally, Tassie was easier to ride but raining more during the race so it was tougher on the bikes and vision, I had some mechanical issues due to the conditions, and then had a couple of crashes that cost me a lot it was hard to continue with wet gloves and completely muddy! But there's no way I'm pulling out of a race and it felt good to finish even if it wasn't the result I wanted.

 

Bex Baraona

Bex is relatively new to the EWS scene, this is just her second year and her progression in the sport is incredible, she took 6th place in Tassie. She's dedicated and definitely one to watch and surely a pro team will be snatching her up soon!

As a privateer there were no pit stops or mechanics available to Bex, she kept herself and her bike running sweetly all day.

As a privateer there were no pit stops or mechanics available to Bex, she kept herself and her bike running sweetly all day.

How was EWS Tasmania for you? 
Tasmania was such a well organised event, the atmosphere was amazing, you could tell the whole island was excited to welcome the EWS to the amazing Derby Trails. The trails made for an amazing race, a mix of tame flowy trails and technical rocky, muddy trails. It's up there as my favourite EWS to date I think!

Did riding in the wet at Rotorua help you prepare for the conditions or was it a shock come race day? 
Riding Rotorua was quite a different experience as the mud was quite different in Tasmania. However, that said, I learnt a lot in Rotorua and the main thing was to race the trail which you see on race day because a bit of bad weather and 300+ racers hurling down the stages really change the tracks. I think it really helped me to stay consistent and keep my feet on the pedals! It's pretty easy to panic and lock up when you come up to sections of the track which doesn't resemble anything like what you practiced in training!

 

Jesse Melamed

It's crazy to think that just a few years ago Jesse was looking at a career as a pro skier until an injury shut that door for him. He's a competitive character and soon put his athletic skills to the test in his bid to reach the top of the EWS podium!

How was EWS Tasmania for you?
It was another up and down race. All practice it was amazing, trails were so fun and everyone was grinning. Then just like Rotorua it started pouring as we were climbing up to Stage 1. This was real rain, you could feel the power of it and we all couldn't believe it. I still attacked stage 1 and it actually rode pretty well. I started off the day with great results and then a few problems bumped me down. But mostly I rode a good race and couldn't do more than 14th. Happy to have another clean race and be healthy going home for some training.

How did the trails change for the top 20 men this week in Tassie? Was it carnage on the same scale as Rotorua?
I knew a little rain wouldn't affect the trails too badly, but we got a lot of rain in that storm before stage 1 and it changed the trails a bit for the last guys. The smoother trails got a little slower and greasy in the corners and some ruts developed on the fresher trails, but it actually wasn't too bad! Some sections rode better and it was still really fun to ride. The results are enough proof that the top guys weren't as disadvantaged as Rotorua, besides stage 3 we all put up the top times. 

 

Martha Gill

You might not have heard of 19 year old Martha Gill but she's been on our radar for a little while now. She might be winning the U21 category due to the default of being the only competitor but look a little closer and you will see that she is logging top 15 results every race in the Pro Women's category...... 

How was EWS Tasmania for you?
I had a bit of a slow start with a crash on stage 1 and struggling to see with my goggles. Not long after that I realised it was going to be a case of just making as few mistakes as possible. In every stage I had some wobbly moments but nothing too major thankfully. The trails were pretty different to when we practiced as it rained the whole of the race day, I was pretty tentative on some corners and knew I probably could've pushed a bit harder in places but it wasn't worth the risk for the consequences. I really enjoyed it and had fun but also found it to be quite a brutal day in what was really tough conditions, I was pretty happy just to finish with both bike and body intact. I didn't feel like I had ridden amazing at the end of the day but knew I'd ridden consistently (apart from stage 1) so I was super stoked to see that I'd managed to get an overall time that would've been 13th in the Elite women!

Has road tripping in NZ this winter prepared you better for travelling with the EWS series this year do you think?
Yeah for sure, I'm on the way home now after nearly 2 months away. I've had the opportunity to ride with some pretty fast people, new and old friends on and off the race circuit, I think that's helped me loads with getting back up to race speed before Rotorua and Tasmania and it has set me up well for the rest of the season too. I've never ridden such a wider variety of terrain than in New Zealand and the whole time I was there I felt like I was just constantly learning and gaining confidence with each different trail I rode. Also just being nicer weather I ended up riding nearly every day until I needed to rest to race, so I got in a good block of fitness training too! I've never felt better coming in to the start of the racing season, I just can't wait to see what the rest of the year brings!

 

Rae Morrison

Raewyn suffered a fractured heel before the end of the season last year so will be raring to get back on the horse! She is one stylish rider we love to watch!

 

How was EWS Tasmania for you? 
Tasmania was an incredible event. Not only the race tracks that were the perfect combination of fast, flowy and technical, but also the race venue in the remote location of Derby. Race wise I would always like to be better and faster, but after coming back from a serious injury I have not been able to do the volume or intensity that is needed to make that step up to where I was last season. But when my ankle is fully functioning properly, and I can unclip on my left side, I will be able to start putting in the work that will see me back to where I would like to be. 

How was the course compared to practice, was it like riding blind again and how did you cope? 
It made a pretty dramatic change thats for sure.  That is half the challenge of this sport, you need to be adaptable and take on what ever the day decides to throw at you. The tracks will always change from practice to race day and how well you cope with that and read the track can make or break your race. Tasmania was particularly extreme with the rain and thunder storms hitting on race day turning the tracks from loose dry dirt to rutted, muddy and slippery. Many of the lines from practice got thrown out the door and new lines appeared, it was challenging but so incredibly fun.

Photos - Tim Bardsley-Smith and Enduro World Series