Martin Maes Madeira 2019
RACE NEWS/EDITORIAL

2019 Madeira EWS – Is a Trend Developing?

Words AJ Barlas
Photos Enduro World Series
Date May 14, 2019

Two familiar faces landed on top of the Pro podium after eight stages of racing in Madeira. In the women’s race, Isabeau Courdurier took her third win of the season, putting close to a minute into nearest rival, Noga Korem. Martin Maes also won his third straight race of 2019, by a lick over 30 seconds over local Portuguese lad, Jose Borges.

Isabeau shares some thoughts on the Madeira race over the weekend.

Martin talks about his focus for the weekend in Madeira.

While racing was intense on the dry, blown out track and there were interesting equipment choices — like Maes running a hybrid wheel setup of 29 front and 27.5 rear — it brought up something else I found fascinating. There’s a trend beginning to form on the results sheet of the Enduro World Series. In 2013 when the EWS debuted there were two racers who dominated the podium; Jérôme Clementz and Tracy Moseley.

Moseley continued her dominance throughout 2014 and 2015 and won 71% of the events she entered during the three years she raced. Her worst result was second place. And the trend appears to be repeating itself in the women’s field. After Tracy retired, Cécile Ravanel took over as the dominant racer. From 2016–2018, Ravanel won everything aside from two events. Those were a second to Tracy when she returned for the 2016 Wicklow stop, and a second to Isabeau in 2017. Before Tracy’s retirement, Cécile showed she had the pace for the top step. She beat Tracy at the Whistler stop in 2014, and was consistently in the medals elsewhere with a slew of second and third place finishes.

Cécile Ravanel wrapped up a perfect season in 2018.

Cécile showed her dominance of the series with a flawless 2018 season, winning every single race.

Cécile’s winning rate since she started taking series crowns is an astonishing 91% but an injury during the 2018/19 off-season has forced her to take a break. It’s too early to know what will happen when things wrap up in Finale, Italy, this year, but my crystal ball says Isabeau Courdurier's current form and rankings lead will be hard to beat. Like Cécile, Isabeau has shown she can win against the best, beating Ravanel at the 2017 stop in Tasmania. Isabeau hasn't finished off the podium since Finale in 2015.

Cécile will be back racing as soon as she can and despite the severity of her injury—a broken neck at the C5 and C6—she’ll still be wicked fast. She has confessed to loving winning and not being bored by her dominance leaving me to question when, rather than if, she’ll win again. If Cécile's winning form returns before 2022, or Isabeau is beat by another competitor, the trend dies.

The women’s field has been dominated by a select few who've consistently shown strong results before starting to take scalps. Keep an eye on Noga Korem in the future…

Isabeau Courdurier Madeira 2019

Before Cécile was put on the injury list Isabeau had been gaining ground, and now she's setting the pace.

In the men’s category, dominance has a shorter shelf life. After Jérôme won the opening season, the sophomore year of 2014 went to Jared Graves. But it was his teammate, Richie Rude who took over in 2015—marking the start of a different trend. With the first two years seeing two different winners, Richie successfully won consecutive championship titles in 2015 and 2016. A shoulder injury in the 2014/15 off-season kept Jared from the races and he missed the first three rounds as well as the fifth. In 2016 his results were inconsistent; he won in Finale but also placed 155th at round three in Wicklow. He hasn’t been a major threat since.

Richie showed complete domination during his time as champion but suddenly didn’t seem capable of putting a race together. At that time Sam Hill had done a few races and was starting to show potential. After finishing second at his first two EWS events, he won his third in Valberg, France. In 2017 he made the EWS his full-time focus and took wins all over the globe. For 2018 he continued his winning form and secured a second consecutive championship title, following Richie’s footsteps. Now three rounds into 2019, Sam is struggling—like Richie before him—to find winning form.

Jared Grave's in Wicklow, 2016

Jared battles the elements during his worst finish, a 155th in Wicklow, Ireland.

Martin Maes is positioned well for the 2019 championship title. His 2018 season finished with impressive performances in both World Cup Downhill and Enduro World Series events. Bringing that momentum into 2019 has placed him on a different planet. But well before 2018, Martin showed the promise of brilliance. He raced his first season as a junior but jumped up to the pro category the following season, despite still having a season of junior eligibility left. Martin wanted the challenge and while it beat him down a few times, it's paying off now.

Martin Maes Finalé EWS 2017

Maes has been steadily building since his time as a junior. But now that his race craft has cleaned up he's become a force to be reckoned with.

At just 22, Martin is showing the maturity with his racing that normally takes years, or even a lifetime, to develop. Of the 19 stages he's raced in 2019, Martin has won 14 including all three of the “Queen Stages”—worth an extra 40 points toward his season's overall tally. With wins worth 500 points and the extra 40 points for Queen Stage wins, Maes has a solid lead of 380 points over Florian Nicolai. Isabeau is in a similarly stable position, also winning all the Queen Stages in addition to each round. That gives her a 420 point buffer over Noga Korem.

Racers now have more than a month break before they're back between the tape in Val Di Fassa, Italy. While we'll have to wait and see what happens, it would be foolish to bet against either Martin or Isabeau continuing their winning streaks. Can they go the full pull and continue all season? Until they have some sort of mishap, expect to see them continue their ultra consistent, high-speed antics.

Comments

Vikb
+4 Timer IslandLife Beau Miller Allen Lloyd
Vik Banerjee  - May 14, 2019, 6:17 a.m.

I have no idea about trends for winners. I do hope that new tech in wireless ruggedized cameras...think networked Gopros....will mean we can get better coverage of race runs. Enduro is pretty darn compelling racing, but existing coverage is sparse to say the least.

The same tech would make WC DH racing coverage a lot better as well.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
+2 IslandLife Vik Banerjee
AJ Barlas  - May 14, 2019, 6:51 a.m.

True Vik. It’s tight and thrilling but coverage currently falls short in displaying that well. Even if one stage was live and well done it would be great. But as you say, some form of networked POV camera setup could be great!

Reply

rigidjunkie
+3 Timer chachmonkey AJ Barlas
Allen Lloyd  - May 14, 2019, 7:22 a.m.

I think the live part needs to be removed.  Run the races and give all the footage to editors with a short deadline.  Then have a secondary competition for the best edit of the race.  I can avoid spoilers for a few days if I know I can watch a really awesome version of the events.

Reply

cyclotoine
+2 IslandLife AJ Barlas
cyclotoine  - May 14, 2019, 8:18 a.m.

For me the excitement of watching WC DH live is unparalleled. However, I agree with edits as a start. I don't have the time to watch Le Tour anymore since I no longer work in a shop where it can be on in the background, so I watch the stage recaps. Something like that format would allow more spectators entry into following EWS more closely and a stepping stone to a better thought out live coverage model.

Reply

IslandLife
0
IslandLife  - May 15, 2019, 9:29 a.m.

Ya they need to figure this out. I say copy the World Rally Championship format... top 10 (5? 15? 20?) riders get a GoPro given to them by race control that has to worn and turned on for each stage. Race control could even manage these at each stage start and retrieve them at each stage finish while giving new GoPros for the next stage. That way, editors could start working on footage as stages end.

World Rally used to be so good at it that they'd have an hour (maybe it was 30 mins?) long in-depth recap out each evening (maybe next morning??  It's been a while since I followed WRC) and then they'd combine them and plus add a bit more for a 1.5 hour long full race recap the day after the race. They'd have a announcer/interviewer guy and camera getting some key interviews and insights pre each stage, post each stage, during transitions and in the pits. Then a couple key cameras staged somewhere on each stage (sort of what they do now). Combine the gopro footage, quick interviews and capture of drama/action pre & post stage + transitions and pits with the current in-stage camera work and you've got a damn entertaining show. Unfortunately live action never really works for this kind of multi-day stage based format... but there is so much more that could be done.

And not saying EWS needs to do all of this (the WRC has much more cash than EWS), but there are many parallels to be drawn from both the series' and EWS would do well to emulate just a few of the things that WRC does.

Reply

Timer
0
Timer  - May 17, 2019, 1:58 p.m.

With MTB, i think POV footage is not a good format to attract viewers. If you are not a seasoned biker (and preferably even know the trails being ridden), POV Gopro clips are hard to follow and often boring because they make everything look flat and unchallenging.

And obviously GoPro vids without a gimbal are just garbage.

Good EWS coverage probably needs a lot of cameras near the track and ideally some drone "followcam" vids.

I like the WRC format. A big part of what makes it work is that it is not totally focused on POV footage. Having the option of showing in-car footage also helps.

Reply

Vikb
+2 IslandLife AJ Barlas
Vik Banerjee  - May 14, 2019, 8:32 a.m.

EWS does do a recap for each round. 

https://www.pinkbike.com/news/video-full-highlights-ews-madeira-2019.html

It's a good summary, but leaves out 95% of the action.

Reply

LoamtoHome
0
Jerry Willows  - May 14, 2019, 8:14 a.m.

Sports is all about being live...  watch the recap later.

Reply

DaveSmith
+1 Mammal
Dave Smith  - May 14, 2019, 9:26 a.m.

knees

Reply

xy9ine
+1 AJ Barlas
Perry Schebel  - May 14, 2019, 12:11 p.m.

oh you. speed trumps aesthetic body positioning. 

interesting how fleeting dominance in this sport seems to be. from ruling the top of the box to struggling for a podium within the span of a season or two. it's a grueling balancing act: long pedaling days, racing several (often super tech) stages at near dh speeds with small bikes on courses with minimal pre-inspection, trying to keep bodies & bikes intact. i've dabbled with a couple ews races (old guy pack filler); it's really eye opening to see what the top racers are capable of, and somewhat understandable why turnover at the pointy end of the spectrum if fairly rapid. it's a punishing game. 

that said, maes is young and ridiculously talented (and seems to be able to stay on his bike). perhaps he'll hang out there for a while.

Reply

ChazzMichaelMichaels
0
ChazzMichaelMichaels  - May 14, 2019, 3:53 p.m.

Are they doing doping tests yet? At least you know Maes has completed one in the past year (La Bresse 2018).

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+1 IslandLife
Pete Roggeman  - May 15, 2019, 11:35 a.m.

Dude, where ya been? Richie Rude is sitting out the EWS (voluntarily) right now, pending the results of a doping positive from last year's round 3 in France. Graves tested positive at the same race, but he's not racing right now because of a way higher stakes battle with brain cancer.

Those results came out after a doping test conducted by the French anti-doping agency after last year's EWS round 3 in Olargues, FRA. EWS leaves doping control up to national agencies - and the French are very intent on catching dopers.

Levy did a nice job with this article: https://www.pinkbike.com/news/exclusive-richie-rude-and-jared-graves-failed-drug-test-at-ews-france.html

Prior to racing at the start of this year, the EWS published a letter that had already been sent to EWS athletes and team managers. I'll leave the link below. It's a good read, because it explains the EWS's standpoint and policy, and lifts the veil a little bit on how this stuff works. It also shows, once again, what a good series manager Chris Ball is and why he's well-respected.

https://www.enduroworldseries.com/news/1269-official-ews-statement-on-antidoping/

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