Another round and another new venue for the Enduro World Series this weekend in France, with the round at Montagnes du Caroux. With Sam Hill in dominating form from the previous 2 rounds of the season in Elite Men and Cecile Ravanel the same over in Elite Women, the stakes were high for other competitors to disrupt the podium and points tally.

As practice rolled on on Thursday and Friday, it was clear to the competitors that this was a tough round, with relentless technical sections, jagged rocks and a huge amount of climbing in the liaison stages each day. The venue was using some ancient tracks through villages in the South of France, picturesque if you had time to stop and enjoy the view.

Anneke Beerten in practice, with one nice backdrop.
Dropping into those pictureque valleys.
Sam Hill, enjoying the French trails.

Racing saw a return to wet weather again, with rain on the later parts of Saturday and early Sunday. Tyre selection was critical, with some riders opting for spikes on Sunday, and plenty of slippery rocks ready to catch the unwary.

On day 1, Sam Hill’s winning streak did not continue, the first stage result coming in 8th, only able to muster a 5th place at the end of the day behind a solid result from Richie Rude. Richie was the first overall at the end of day 1, with 3 stage wins.

In the Women’s, Cecile Ravanel continued her domination, only having one mistake on Stage 4 with a 4th place , taking Day 1 honours with 3 stage wins.

Wet weather and snails in France.
Is there anybody out there? Rain settles in.
NZ’s Rae Morrison , a good performance with a stage win on Stage 4.
Jared Graves, 9th place at the end of Day 1.
Sam Hill, having a bit of fun.
Richie Rude. Back to his first win since Whistler 2016?
Richie sends the step-down at the end of the urban section on Stage 4.

Race day 2 had more of the same, with wet weather to start off the day, drying out as the day (and the wind) continued. By Stage 6, some riders opting to swap the mud tyres for normal ones. Richie was dominating all day, but Dailly picked up the pace, with only 1.5 seconds or so between them at Stage 7. But Richie found an extra 3.5 seconds or so on the last stage, to win by 5 seconds.

Richie gets to work on the rocks.
Cecile, can anyone unseat her this season?
Tyre strategies. After the rain cleared up and the trails dried in the wind, some riders swapped out the mud tyres.
Rae Morrison, overall 7th this round.
Isabeau Courdurier, finishing up 2nd in the Women’s
Sam Hill, trying hard to better his result on day 2 but mustering 6th place.
Elite Women’s podium.
Elite Men’s podium.
Series overall leaders. Sam still in the lead.

Elite Men
1 – Richie Rude
2 – Adrien Dailly
3 – Martin Maes

Elite Women
1 – Cecile Ravanel
2 – Isabeau Cordurier
3 – Ines Thoma

Aussie results:
Sam Hill – 6th Elite Men
Jared Graves – 30th Elite Men
Josh Carlson – 106th Elite Men
David Ludenia – 150th Elite Men
Paul Van Der Ploeg – DNF Elite Men (after sitting out Day 2 with Gastro)
Ben McIlroy – 26th Junior Men
Joel Kristensen – 41st Junior Men

You can also check out the action on our Instagram highlights, Aussie enduro racer David Ludenia was taking over for us all weekend from the event. Heal up Dave!

Full results here:

Next up in the Enduro World Series tour is the first cross-border event, the Austrian-Slovenian round in Petzen-Jamnica at the end of June.

Photos: Enduro World Series / Duncan Philpott