The first race of the year, Specialized EWS Zermatt, may well be one of the toughest races in the history of the sport, albeit minus some of the top contenders especially from these shores.
Snow, rain and freezing temperatures led to the cancellation of two stages, making the race the shortest EWS ever. With just two stages to race, mistakes weren’t an option and racers had to tread an even finer line than usual between pushing for speed whilst minimising risk. And it’s safe to say that Jesse Melamed (Rocky Mountain Race Face Enduro Team) gave a masterclass in both. The Canadian rider stormed the first stage to leave himself a very comfortable ten second margin heading into stage two. Times were tight behind him with Robin Wallner (Ibis Enduro Team), Elliot Heap (Team Chain Reaction Cycles Pro Team) and Martin Maes (GT Factory Racing), all within the same second in places two, three and four respectively.
Maes rallied to win the second stage, but the 2019 Zermatt winner couldn’t find enough time to deprive Melamed of the win, and had to settle for second place, with Melamed finishing the day four seconds up. Taking his first trip to an EWS podium was Theo Galy (Sunn Enduro Factory Team), whose seventh place finish in stage one and second pace on stage two saw him rewarded in third.
What the race lacked in length it more than made up for in sheer savagery, with even some of the the biggest names falling victim to the conditions and our current cover boi Jack Moir putting in a very solid fourth place!
In the women’s race reigning champion Isabeau Courdurier (Lapierre Zipp Collective) did what she does best – take a clean sweep of the stages and win the race by a convincing margin. Morgane Charre (Pivot Factory Racing) made an outstanding debut for her new team and Scottish rider Ella Conolly wrapped up third place to score her second time on an EWS podium.
Full results are available here.