Courtesy of Enduro World Series. Photos by Matt Wragg.
The Enduro World Series 2014 has created many stories in the last seven rounds – but none quite as compelling as Finale Ligure this weekend.
Not only did the Enduro World Series crown new World Champions but we saw one of the most impressive comebacks cycling has ever seen. Finale 2014 will go down in the history books for all the right reasons.
Beside the beach in the Italian Riviera, Jared Graves (Yeti/Fox Shox) and Tracy Moseley (Trek Factory Enduro Race Team) were named the 2014 Enduro World Champions.
It was a fitting culmination of seven rounds, six countries and 14 days of incredible racing that drew to a close this weekend. What’s even more incredible is that in the women’s race the championship was decided on the very last stage of the season.
Tracy Moseley, above, started the race just 80 points ahead of Anne Caroline Chausson (Ibis), meaning she had to place at least second to win the overall series. But with Anne winning every stage of the race, and Cecile Ravanel (GT Pulse Session) a very close third, it all came down to stage six. Anne won the stage convincingly, but at the end of the day Tracy held on to second, securing Moseley’s status as World Champion for a second year.
“After a year of hard work for it to come down to essentially the last stage of the last race meant there was a lot of pressure and your mind plays games,” Moseley said. “Last year it was a bit of a surprise to win the inaugural series, but in a way this year has actually been more satisfying as I’ve battled with Anne all year and had to raise my game every weekend.”
The men’s race was different altogether – Jared Graves’ consistency throughout the year meant the championship was his to lose. Any finish in the top 23 guaranteed he’d leave Finale the best in the world. And that’s exactly what he did. He may have come second in this race but he will start next season with the number one plate on his bike.
“This year I’ve had good and bad days and we’ve had such a variety of trails and terrain – it’s been a true test,” Graves said. “World Champion is a pretty huge honor and I couldn’t be happier right now.”
The top three in the series was rounded out by Damien Oton (Devinci/Alltricks.com) and Justin Leov (Trek Factory Enduro Race Team). Oton has had an amazing season, including winning round four in La Thuile. Leov has been consistent all season and was second at round two in Scotland earlier this year.
The winner of the race came as a shock – even to the man himself – Fabien Barel (Canyon Factory Enduro). After breaking his back in Chile at round one only five months ago, Finale marked Fabien’s return to racing and what a stunning return it was. He won the race by over eight seconds.
“Just coming back to racing was a victory for me today and when I saw I was in the lead I couldn’t believe it,” Barel said. “It’s just amazing – the emotion is hard to explain but I put all my passion and all my heart into this weekend. I’ve been back on the bike for three weeks now and I thought if I can make a top 20 that would be great – winning is just something that is unreal for me.”
In the junior race Sebastian Claquet has had an incredible season and it finished with him crowned Junior Enduro World Champion on the stage in Finale. Robin Matot (Yeti Belgium Urge BP) has also ridden well all year to take second in the overall, with Conor Lavelle of Ireland in third. In the Masters Primoz Strancar (Orbea Geax MTB Team) dominated all series to take the title of Masters World Champion, with Mika Kangas and Emmanuel Abate in second and third.
With the two times World Champion Moseley amongst their riders, it’s little wonder Trek Factory Enduro Race Team lifted the series trophy in the team competition. With an incredibly consistent season and a young team Rocky Mountain Urge BP took second, whilst Jared Graves’ own Yeti/Fox Shox team finished a well deserved third place.
Enrico Guala, of Superenduro and Enduro World Series said: “I started to work in Finale in 1994 and 20 years later I’ve lived one of most intense and emotional weekends since I started riding.
“The integration of the city, locals, bike community, different organisers, riders and industry created an emotional intensity that I’ve never experienced before. Fabien was the peak of this feeling that was shared by all the people that joined us in Finale.”
Full results, photo galleries and the Dirt TV highlights films are available now at enduroworldseries.com.