Kona riders were out in force over this past week in Finale Ligure for the final round Enduro World Series. New Zealand, Sweden, Ireland, France and Canada were all represented. The physical and technical nature of the seven stages did take its toll on riders, however: Jonathan Maunsell, Alexander Kangas and Jordan Regnier all had their weekends end abruptly, but our two U21 riders, Leah Maunsell and Rhys Verner, both had weekends they will remember forever.
Rhys had an absolute stormer of a weekend. Not only did he ride the all-new Process 153 CR/DL to the top spot in the men’s U21 category by over a minute, but his time was fast enough to put him in 13th in the pro-men’s field.
Leah, who led after the first day of racing, tried her best in the tightly contested women’s U21 field to lengthen that lead on day two. She’s no stranger to the podium at EWS events but the stop step has eluded her. The final of stage would be her undoing, losing precious seconds relegating her to second place. Not the top spot she was looking for but an amazing result for the young rider all the same.
What a week for me! This was pretty much a dream trip as far as racing and fun goes. The whole week leading up to the final round of the Enduro World Series was great, going for long rides and just taking in the amazing scenery of Finale! Pre-riding the stages I felt great and right at home on the new Process 153 CR DL and I genuinely couldn’t wait to get the racing underway. The weekend started out with a 20-minute stage from the highest mountain at around 1400m and descended almost all the way back down to sea level.
I’ve always been a fan of the long stages coming from XC but this stage went better than I could have hoped for. I ended up pulling a 39-second lead on the 2nd place U21 rider and had by far my best stage result ever with a time that would have had me 5th in the Elite men’s category. The rest of the day I tried to ride smooth and just stay within my limits as to not toss away the lead. I ended day one with a 36-second lead in U21 and ranked 7th overall.
Day two I woke up again ecstatic to get the racing underway and pedaled up to the stages full of energy and just living the dream. I again rode smooth throughout the stages and ended up winning stages four, five, and six, with one stage left to go I had a 1:14 lead on the nearest competitor. Stage 7 was a rough stage so I played it on the safer side as to get down in one piece and secured my first EWS win with an overall time that would have placed me 13th in the pro men’s field.
I am coming away from this race with a lot of confidence knowing that I can ride with the best and really couldn’t be happier with how the week went! – Rhys Verner
Coming into day two with a 9-second lead after the first day’s racing was great, but I knew it was going to be a tight battle right until the end. With a 50km loop and 1300m of climbing to tackle it was going to be a tough day in the saddle. I was delighted to be battling it out for the top step right until the last stage but missed out by 12 seconds. I could say that I’m a little disappointed, but how could you after a great week riding in Finale Ligure. Getting to finish off my season with some really tight racing and ending it on the beach with some gelato with your mates was amazing! – Leah Maunsell