Enduro World Series (EWS) was held at Madeira which is a fantastic place for mountain bikers. Steep, fast, dust, mud, rocks and sunny. Everything in one package and the organization is pure professionals at Freeride Madeira. The locals have created a buzz around the enduro biking within the last decade, and when you arrive at the airport, you feel welcome right away. All riders were on the Stamina 180 which has the best enduro racing capabilities from our product range.
The race was split to two days. On the first day, there was 1400m of vertical climb, and the stages were more physical. On the second day, there was more distance on the transfers to be ridden, but the tracks were more technical. Joseph Nation being out Leigh Johnson was our only pro rider to take part to the race. Leo Kokkonen took part in the competition as well to test for upcoming products. All practice was done in good weather, and the only downside was that the trails got smashed and there was a lot of dust. Leigh did have more time to get used to his new race bike and setup, and he was feeling more comfortable on his Stamina 180.
The first stage was the most physical stage on the race. First, we climbed 600m vertical which was steep to the start. Sun had been shining the whole week, and we knew in the practice that when the first riders have done with the track, it will be challenging to know which berms are still going to hold or not. Like we had guessed the first stage was like a minefield when we got to it. There were holes everywhere covered in dust Leigh got 25th on that stage, and Leo was 93rd. The second stage was close to the sea, and it was more formed from a hardpacked bedrock with high-speed singletrack trails. Both, Leo and Leigh had a good time there and stood up in the rankings after the second stage. Leigh was 23rd, and Leo was 83rd. The last stage on the day was down to Machico village that was the headquarters for the event. Leigh put his foot down on that stage and took his first top 10 stage score with 9th place. Leo kept his pace on the last stage and was 92nd.
The day started with a downhill style course with a lot of jumps. When we walked to see the track down, we saw a lot of dead sailors and close calls so both of us just thought that we should concentrate on a solid run. Neither of us felt confident on the man-made stuff, but both managed to get solid runs. Leigh 15th and Leo 83rd. The fifth stage was a singletrack stage in the woods that had some step-downs and had some rocky and technical corners. Leigh 14th and Leo 83rd. The sixth track had some pedaling at the top wich Leigh felt very comfortable on and trusted that he is fit to ride it full gas without being too tired at the bottom. Leo had a good feeling of the track as well but had a crash in the high-speed entry to the lower woods. Leo hit a tree pretty hard, and that took his wind out for a while, so he needed to take a short rest. After he went on, he noticed that a bent a cleat when he could not clip into the pedal. Leigh 9th and Leo 96th. The seventh stage was at the iconic coastal lines in Madeira with steep turns and fast speed at the bottom. All the catches were gone after the first riders had done with the stage and the top 100 had to ride lines that were not there on the practice day. Both riders wanted to make a safe run. Leigh 19th and Leo 88th. The final stage was the same as the third stage, but it had an urban DH session at the bottom of the stage. We saw many riders crossing the finish line without a tire or with a broken rim. Leigh was on fire an got his second top10 stage time with 10th place and sealed his 9th place overall. Leo was 85th and 87th overall.