Rude, Ravanel lead Enduro World Series after first three stages in Snowmass
Richie Rude wanted to make up for last year’s Enduro World Series stop in Aspen and Snowmass, and he’s more than done that halfway through the 2017 race by holding the top spot after three stages.
“I kind of want to get a little bit of redemption here,” Rude said after Friday’s training day. “Try to get back into the top five and bring my season around.”
Rude, who is the two-time reigning EWS world champion, only finished 25th at the Snowmass stop last season after suffering a minor injury in practice. He still went on to win the overall series after all eight rounds were completed, but the Connecticut native feels the same as most American riders surely do, and that’s the desire to do well when on home soil.
Like last season, the stop in Snowmass is the only one in the United States throughout the eight-round circuit.
“It definitely feels like home. We spend enough time out here that it feels like our home trails,” said Rude, who rides for the Golden-based Yeti Cycles factory team. “You always want to perform better when your Yeti fans and your family are here. Don’t want to buckle under the pressure.”
Rude was rock solid Saturday over the first three stages of the Enduro World Series. He finished fourth among pro men riders in Stage 1, the Two Creeks DH in Snowmass, and took Stage 2 by 11 seconds. The second stage is the longest of the weekend, a top to bottom descent of Aspen Mountain. He completed the stage in 13 minutes, 29.54 seconds.
Stage 3, the KAR Luge route back in Snowmass, wasn’t as smooth, coming in 24th. But he had enough of a cushion through two stages that he still ends the first of two days with a total time of 23:23.63, an 8.74-second advantage on downhill legend Sam Hill of Australia.
Belgium’s Martin Maes is third, 8.90 seconds back of Rude, while last year’s Snowmass round winner, Jared Graves of Australia, is 11.3 seconds back of Rude in fourth.
Rude said Stage 4, the “Snowmass Super D” that will start the action today, is likely to be the difference maker on the final day. As with Stage 5 on Sam’s Knob, Stage 4 is new to the Snowmass round this year.
“If we are kind of in the mood on Stage 4 and ready to attack, that’s a really good part to make up time,” Rude said. “If you do well there, you are pretty well set for the rest of the day. You just got to keep it together for Stages 5 and 6.”
Rude is trying to get back into the EWS overall picture with only two rounds remaining after Snowmass. Entering the weekend, he was sixth overall, his best finish being fourth place on the Australian island of Tasmania in Round 2. He’s trying to track down series leader Adrien Dailly for his third-straight EWS title. Hill is currently in second overall.
The pro women’s leader after Day 1 is France’s Cecile Ravanel. She is the reigning EWS world champ and has dominated her competition all year, winning four of the first five rounds this season. Her only downfall was taking second in Round 2 in Australia.
And after dominating Saturday, it seems the Snowmass stages fit her style and the pressure of entering as the favorite does little to bother her.
“I have some point advantage and I can be more relaxed. It’s better for me,” Ravanel said with her strong French accent. “This year it’s much better than last year. It’s faster with more downhill. It was really fun. A lot of jumps and speed. I like it.”
Ravanel has a three-stage time of 26:13.98. She took third in Stage 1 before winning both Stages 2 and 3. Fellow Frenchwomen Isabeau Courdurier is currently in second, 31.85 seconds behind. Ravanel also won the Snowmass round last year, winning by more than a minute.
Riders will get on the course beginning at 7:30 a.m. Sunday. Stages 4-6 all take place in Snowmass Village, finishing with the famed “Banzai DH” course in Stage 6. An awards ceremony is scheduled for 5 p.m. in the Snowmass base area.
Full results and stage information can be found at http://www.enduroworldseries.com. There is no cost to view the race.
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