The Enduro World Series was back in La Thuile after a 2 year hiatus. It’s also here back in 2014 that Damien Oton won his first ever EWS of his career. Right in the heart of the Italian Alps La Thuile is simply an amazing venue with probably the most epic landscapes we’ll see this season.
And what about the stages that our riders have faced there this year? New fresh cut trails, all steeper than the others, loam to the dome, very physical and technical and of course, heavy showers to bring the difficulty level a little notch higher.
Prior the race, our two riders, Damien Oton and Keegan were in full form to attack the seven stages of La Thuile. This race was going to take action over two days of racing with three stages on Saturday and 4 stages on Sunday.
Race Day 1 – Saturday July 21st:
On race day 1, our riders faced 3 stages that were all between 8 and 11 minutes long. Damien was in full confidence of his skills and talent this past weekend. He was only hoping that the trails would remain dry as riding those in mud and wet conditions would be a totally different game. Eager to start the day on a high note, Damien had few bubbles on stage 1 and crashed twice… still ended up 6th of that stage. On the second stage he wanted to ride clean without mistakes. He rode Stage 2 to an 18th place. The shorter stage (S2) of day 1 was brutal said the Frenchman “I pushed too hard at the top. My arms were burning for the second half of the stage and pushed me to do many mistakes. I will change my strategy for Stage 3!”
Keegan had a tough day at the office. Struggling to find the pace and opting for dry tires in muddy conditions the Kiwi wasn’t particularly happy about his riding on that first day of racing.
“I felt like I couldn’t ride throughout the whole day. Conditions were tough and couldn’t put all the pieces to the puzzle today. I’ll sleep on that tonight and hope for better tomorrow,” said Keegan Wright after Day 1.
Race Day 2 – Sunday July 22nd:
Race day 2 was going to be a challenging day! Damien wanted to reach the top 3 and started well with a 5th place on Stage 4 and a 4th place on stage 5. Damien was a bit disappointed of his result on stage 5 because of a bet that the Team Manager placed with him before going up for that stage. “I promised Damien that if he scores a top 3 on that stage I would bring him Maple Syrup at every races!” Sweet teeth Damien still pushed through the day and did also well on Stage 7 where he concluded with a 8th. He finished 5th on the race.
Keegan had another tough day on day 2. Not feeling at 100% of his form he couldn’t do better than a 33rd on stage 7. “Yesterday was a tough day for me and it was hard to forget about it today. I tried to attack this morning with a clear head but simply couldn’t ride to my very best. It’s frustrating knowing that I wasn’t able to do well here on those sick trails! Redemption in Whistler brother!” Keegan finished 43rd on the race.
“We are happy to see Damien doing well and maintaining a solid overall ranking. Keegan is still in his enduro learning phase and it’s great to see that Damien is mentoring him to become a better rider. Keegan is young and has an amazing potential. We will head back home in Quebec now for 2 weeks of training and testing that will be good to all of us before EWS6 in Whistler.” – Bastien Major, Team Manager
“My goal again this weekend was to finish inside the top 3 and maintain a solid overall. Stoked to ride to a 5th place here in beautiful La Thuile. I’m also really happy to be sitting in 2nd overall in the ranking! Whistler should be an exciting round! Can’t wait to be in Canada!” – Said Damien Oton after a long weekend of racing.
Damien Oton: 5th
Keegan Wright: 43rd
Photos by Sven Martin