The first half of the Enduro World Series hasn’t been all roses for the Kona Global Enduro Team. The first round in Lo Barnechea, Chille took it’s toll, with Rhys Verner braking is scaphoid at the end of the second stage, Alexander Kangas suffering flat tire and Scott Countryman battling the awkward terrain and altitude. The wet peanut butter texture of round two in Manizales, Columbia was a different kind of beast and a different kind of anti-grip. A large crash for Scott saw his saddle snap off his bike and with it any hopes of a decent finish. Things turned around in Montagnes Du Caroux, France for round three with Kangas not only securing his best overall EWS finish in 23rd place, but he also landed his second ever top ten stage finish.
Which brings us to round four, and the first ever EWS event staged across two separate countries, Austria/Slovenia. It looked like the Enduro Wet Series was back, with rain on the first day of practice rendering traction near useless, and visibility much the same. Kanga’s made it through the practice days unscathed but echoed the sentiment of many of the riders that stage one and two should not have been included in the race, that they were “not enduro stages”. Day two’s stages were miles ahead, Kangas went so far as to say “Stage four is hands down one of the best, if not the best stage I’ve ever ridden”.
The practice days weren’t without their victims though. Rhys, who’d been back on his bike for just a few weeks afte his Chille crash, took an awkward slam on stage three and re-fractured his scaphoid. This devastating news has all but ruined his season, after missing the first three rounds due to the initial break, this secondary fracture will take him out for other six-plus weeks. Our thoughts are with Rhys and we wish him a speedy recovery.
“I felt like I did my first bike race as a beginner today. When I thought I had taken a wrong turn on stage one (which wasn’t the case) I stopped, pedaled back on the trail, just to find out from a marshal that I was on the right trail. That, plus two crashes gave me a great start to the weekend in 90th place!” Alexander Kangas
Day one of racing for Kanga’s didn’t really go to plan. Stage one was an absolute nightmare and he spent the rest of the day trying to claw back those lost places, given his disdain for the flat pedal heavy stage two things weren’t looking good. But a 38th on stage two and a 23rd on the long 12 minute plus stage three meant that he finished the day in 41st place.
Day two featured more downhill themed stages, including the very popular stage four trails as well as the massive 14 minute plus stage six. “I had a big crash around a minute into stage four. I flew over the bars and had to pick up the bike further down the trail to get going. Flustered, I crashed again a few corners down, the rest of the stage went really well until I missed a corner and went straight through the tape, I ran back up jumped on my bike and finished the trail. I was bummed until I checked the results and saw that I had managed a 40th on that stage with the crashes, that felt good.”
Back in the flow of things he posted a problem three solid top thirty result on the short stage five, finishing in 27th. This just left the mammoth stage six. The massive stage suited Kangas and he again had a relatively trouble-free run only crashing once in long 14:53 stage, he crossed the line in 21st place which gave him an overall event finish of 31st. Not a bad comeback from his 90th place on stage one.
Now sitting in 37th in the series, Kangas’ focus is on round five and moving into the top 30 at a (hopefully) rain-free La Thulie, Italy. It’s only three weeks away, so more training is on order for the Swede, he’ll also be joined by the Kona Global Enduro Teammates Leah and Jonathan Maunsell.
Photos Sven Martin Photo