Race Report: Enduro World Series 2014 Round 6, Whistler

Aug 14, 2014

Hot and brutal seemed to be the most used words used to describe Sunday’s racing in Whistler. It was perhaps the toughest Enduro race that the sport has seen to date demanding consummate bike-handling skills to tackle World Cup style downhill sections punctuated by lengthy climbs over 8 hours riding in the blazing sun. 
 
The whole team were biting their nails as they followed the action. Dan Atherton was clearly back on form after his knee injury and dropped in first on every stage from his position in the mid ranks, holding on to the hot-seat through 40 - 60 riders per stage to take final places of 14th, 9th, 8th, 12th and 17th in a show of consistency that would earn him 14th place overall. 
 
But young team-mate Martin Maes made his intentions clear from the start. 
 
The 17 year old took stage 1 by 1.43 seconds from Damien Oton, was 5th by 10.5 seconds on Stage 2 “Crazy Train” to local rider Jesse Melamed then back into first for Stage 3 which featured ”27 tight and loose corners” (perfect for Martin’s taste) and some relatively smooth singletrack where riders demonstrated some impressive speeds. Eventual overall winner Jared Graves took the second on this stage – 2.45 seconds behind Martin. 
 
Stage 4, “Ride Don’t Slide” is a technical natural single track, it’s fresh and loamy in sections rocky and loose lower down. A tired looking Martin came in 5.22 seconds behind Yoann Barelli to take the 4th place on this stage and go into the final Stage 5 as the event leader. 
 
Stage 5 was universally agreed to be out of this world tough. It was hot, high, technical and very very long. Essentially a downhill track on steroids it has an elevation loss of nearly 1500m over 11km – and it was running 30 seconds faster than last year – reflecting the massive advances in the sport.
 
In a devastating blow to his hopes Martin’s chain came off about half way down the stage losing him valuable time – he finished 28th on the stage – enough for 10th place overall. 
 
Martin’s mechanic Andrew Setchfield said “The chain came off under compression, he’d ridden so well in such a hard race we’re devastated for him.”
 
Dan said “ From the first day of practice I knew that the tracks here would suit both me and Martin. They’re freshly cut, steep and rough, exactly what I designed the new Sanction to be good at. Four weeks ago my doctor told me to go away and start getting some race experience again. I wasn’t looking to do well here at Whistler but as the stage times started to come in I started to find some speed. It was one of the toughest races I’ve ever done but at the same time I was loving every stage. “
 
Photo: Dave Trumpmore
 
Results 
 
Stage 1
 
1st Martin Maes 6:18.75
14th Dan Atherton +15.01
 
Stage 2 
 
1st Jesse Melamed  5:46.75
5th Martin Maes + 10.51
9th Dan Atherton +13.37
 
Stage 3
 
1st Martin Maes 8:54.68
8th Dan Atherton +8.24
 
Stage 4 
 
1st Yoann Barelli  7:44.81
4th Martin Maes +5.22
12th Dan Atherton +16.61
 
Stage 5
 
1st Jared graves 21.33.89
17th Dan Atherton 1:11.59
28th Martin Maes 1:27.22
 
Overall
 
1st Jared Graves 51.11.44
10th Martin Maes +50.39
14th Dan Atherton +1.12.26