The Enduro World Series just can’t seem to catch a break in 2020. The season already has had its races and racer massively reduced because of the global Covid-19 pandemic. Was it too much to ask for some nice weather for round one of the shortened EWS season opener in Zermatt, Switzerland over the weekend? Well if you were following the race you know the answer… Yes, yes it was too much to ask for.
With Connor Fearon opting out of traveling overseas for any international racing this year, teammates Miranda Miller and Rhys Verner kept the Kona Flag flying. Having had a few days getting used to riding next to the Matterhorn in dry conditions things started to get a little damp. Miranda has made it no secret that she is not a fan of the Zermatt trails, mentioned that the wet weather actually made the tracks more fun (plus no big giant Toblerone to get distracted by!), and was excited for race day.
No one was really ready for the reality of the bad weather though. Temperatures at the start of stages ranged from 0 to 4˚ celsius (32-39˚f). The organizers made the call to delay the race and reduce the four stages to just two. not really enough time for riders to truly find the feet, but really the fact that the event wasn’t canceled was a miracle.
One of the few riders excited about the sloppy conditions, Miranda Miller admitted she just didn’t have the “pep” to attack as on race day and would finish the weekend in 10th place.
“I’m stoked to have finished the first international race of the year! It was a rollercoaster of a weekend with weather, delays, and cancellations. I felt like I rode smooth but didn’t have the pep to attack the way I’d like, it was about survival. I’m stoked to spend some more time on the Process X in the next few weeks on European terrain.” – Miranda Miller
Given the conditions, on race day it was always going to be about survival. By his own admission, Rhys Verner rode his first stage a little too conservatively, finishing the stage in 17th. In an effort to make up places on stage two, Rhys paid the price, crashing mid-stage. The crash would have Rhys finish the stage in 31st, which in turn secured a 22nd place overall finish for the weekend.
“First EWS of the year was definitely a bit of a shit show. We had some pretty savage weather leading up to the race, and the trails were a bit of a mess. On stage one, my goal was just to ride consistent and not make any race-ending mistakes. To be honest I didn’t feel great on the stage and felt like I rode pretty shitty. However the result ended up being fairly good with 17th, so it gave me confidence for stage two.
Stage two was a more comfortable stage for me, so I was willing to open it up a bit more and push. I got off to a great start and made it through all the technical bits unscathed and was on a good run. Unfortunately right when I thought I was in the clear, there was a corner into an uphill pavement road sprint and I washed the front and crashed. This was a pretty bad place to crash and I had no speed and had to run up a road hill that normally I would have been sprinting on. I feel like I lost a lot of time but it is what it is and that is just racing. Still happy to secure my best European EWS result, just a bit bummed for what could have been.
Really looking forward to Finale though. I have always loved that place and tend to race pretty well there. I feel fitter and better on the bike than I ever have before, so I’m excited to see what I can do when I’m more comfortable riding the tracks.” – Rhys Verner