Stage 8 | Finale, Italy
September 30, 2018
Distance 52 km | Climb1780 m | Descent 1181 m
Finale Ligure, the most iconic venue of the EWS circuit! What a beautiful place to wrap up a huge season of great memories that had its share of ups and downs. The beach, the pasta, the gelatos, the coffees and, of course, the infamous trails of the area.
This year’s edition saw a whole new race format: 4 stages only, one day of training, a rest day and one race day. Our riders were quite happy with this new format. With his DH background, Keegan was happy with 4 stages while his teammate Damien wished for more time on the saddle for the last race of the year, but was still confident that it would suit him well.
Before the race, Damien was sitting in 3rd in the overall rankings of the series. His goal this year was to become World Champion. This was going to be quite a challenge with the defending champion, Sam Hill leading the current series with a considerable advance. Again, this year Oton made sure that his “Mr. Consistency” nickname would still fit him well after this last race of 2018. Damien still felt like he had nothing to lose on race day. With 5 finishes inside the Top 6 this year, he was aiming for nothing but to repeat his win here last year.
The Spartan 29 was finally released prior to this race. Damien and Keegan both have been putting in some miles on this bike all year, but there’s no better place than Finale Ligure to officially “enter the arena”. The Spartan 29 worked flawlessly in the fast, rough and blown-out trails of Liguria. For Damien, the Spartan 29 was the perfect tool for the job this week.
On race day, our troop of riders faced more than 50 km and 1780 of D+; a heavy challenge under the burning sun and hot temperature of Italy. The Catalan Eagle wasn’t even a little afraid of what was waiting for him on that day. He ranked 5th, 2nd, 5th and concluded with another 2nd on the last stage of the day, the short and very demanding “DH Men” track. With those stage finishes, Damien earned the 2nd step of the podium. Richie Rude from the USA took the win with a 22 sec. margin.
Fresh from a good result last week in Ainsa…and a couple of “gelato coppas”, Keegan Wright was all smiles all week here at Finale and was hoping to score a Top 20 result to finish his first year with Devinci on a high note. Unfortunately for Keeg, an unpredictable mechanical issue happened to him during Stage 1.
With this 2nd position here in Finale, Damien climbed back to 2nd overall in the series rankings. Finishing up second to Sam Hill, Damien was still very proud and happy about his 2018 season, his 5th with Devinci.
“Another one for the books! Pumped at second place here this weekend and for the second spot in the series overall! Yes, it’s my 3rd time getting 2nd overall! Haha! One day I will be World Champion! I will work hard during the off-season and watch out for next year!” – Damien Oton
“It was a memorable season with Unior Devinci Factory Racing. I had a lot of ups with a lot of downs, but I learned a whole lot and can’t wait to get the off-season by firing in full attack for next season! I’m hungry as ever!” – Keegan Wright
“This year was simply amazing! Working with these two great athletes was really impressive. Damien managed to achieve nearly all his goals, Keegan learned a lot and it’s awesome to see the connexion between him and Dam as his mentor. I know he was hoping for better results, but I’m more than confident that his time will come. I only have positive things to say about 2018 and I’m already looking forward to 2019. Will we finally get a World Champion title?” – Bastien Major, Team Manager
We would like to thank all the awesome team partners for their great support in 2018. Your help truly contributed to the success of the team. See you next year! Cheers!
Photos by Sven Martin