Rudeau’s win was a debut for the Frenchman but he has already won an EWS-E in Valberg in July this year – also on flat pedals

The final Enduro World Series of the year, EWS Loudenvielle highlights

The final Enduro World Series of the year, EWS Loudenvielle, did not disappoint. Race day saw some of the toughest conditions of the year, as heavy rain turned the already challenging tracks into something altogether more treacherous.

It was a day for the home nation and flat pedals at EWS Loudenvielle, as Pivot Factory Racing’s Morgane Charre and Commencal Enduro Project’s Alex Rudeau rode to victory in front of a vocal French crowd. The pair mastered a series of steep Pyrenean trails left slick and treacherous by bucketloads of rain. The French had further reason to pop the Champagne with Isabeau Courdurier’s second place in the final round of the series crowning the Lapierre Zipp Collective rider as 2022 series champion.

Jesse Melamed takes the 2022 series title despite a huge crash a week ago in EWS Crans-Montana

In the men’s title battle, a sixth place for Canada’s Jesse Melamed was enough to secure his debut series title. Injured Melamed of Rocky Mountain Race Face was pushed hard by his equally-battered rival Richie Rude (Yeti/Fox Factory Team) who ended the day in seventh and as runner-up in the title race.

Rain on Friday and then again on Saturday left the steep and testing tracks of EWS Loudenvielle almost traction-free and there were crashes aplenty as riders pushed hard. Morgane Charre used all her flat-pedal downhill skills to master the Pro Stage on Saturday, a win that would be one of four she would grind out in the six-stage race to emerge nearly 10s ahead of a remarkably-consistent Isabeau Courdurier. Indeed, Courdurier, whose season was nearly ended by a horrific foot inury in July, was metronomic in her approach, she knew she had to ride smoothly and do little more than finish and that approach paid dividends spiriting her to victory in the two stages that didn’t go Charre’s way.

Isabeau Courdurier

As Courdurier’s closest title rival, Charre pushed hard but so did 2021 EWS champ Melanie Pugin of BH Enduro Racing Team who finished every stage in the top six. And that was good enough for third on the day. Israel’s Noga Korem (GT Factory Racing) was another rider who found form with her best result of the season to finish in fourth. Harriet Harnden of Trek Factory Racing finished fifth with a result that was good enough to clinch her third in the 2022 series. The result saw her win the Battle of the Brits in 2022, leapfrogging both Bex Baraona of Yeti/Fox Factory Team, who finished the race in 18th and Cannondale Enduro’s Ella Conolly, who was sidelined by a crash in the Pro Stage on Saturday.

Rudeau’s win was a debut for the Frenchman but he has already won an EWS-E in Valberg in July this year – also on flat pedals

In the men’s race, young Frenchman Rudeau found his flow with a remarkably-consistent performance which saw him place within the top five on every single one of EWS Loudenvielle’s six stages. With a stage win on the first test of Sunday, the hugely-slick Courtalets, Rudeau looked in charge on his flat pedals from the get go. He followed that up with two thirds, a fifth and a second on the final stage of the day to hold off an in-form Martin Maes of Orbea FOX Enduro team and a hard-charging Jack Moir (Canyon Collective) – the 2021 EWS champ. A win for Moir on stage four and then a second on five saw the Aussie go into the final stage just 4.28s behind Rudeau but the ice-cool Frenchman held his nerve to take a further 2.6s out of the Aussie who was himself leapfrogged on the last stage by Belgian Maes who came second and secured himself the third spot in the title race. In his best result for some time, Specialized Racing’s Charlie Murray came home in fourth after winning the fearsome Queen Stage – Nabias – S3. Pro Stage winner Youn Deniaud came home a creditable fifth.

Moir came to Loudenvielle as a podium favorite after taking first place at Enduro World Series Round 7 in Crans-Montana, Switzerland the previous weekend. Although the defending champion was out of contention for claiming the season win, he still had garnered enough ranking points to slide into the overall top five in season leaderboards. And he did!

Heading into the final stage, Moir had cut Rudeau’s lead to only 4.28 seconds. But when all was said and done, Moir found himself leapfrogged during the final stage by Belgian Martin Maes taking second place. With Rudeau taking the win, Moir completed the final race of the season in third place with a 34:03.570 finish time and 6.93 seconds behind the winner.

Full EWS Loudenvielle race results are here

Full 2022 series rankings are here

All photos courtesy Enduro World Series