This year in Finale Ligure the race organisers of the Enduro World Series have chosen to run a challenging race that sets the standard even higher than the other races that have gone before.
With six stages over two days, it is hard to take in what has been created. The stages are a mix of technical flow and long perfect loam. Most of the trails are in the woods, with the exception of stage four which is out in the open on an old downhill track, rocks, soil and hidden tree stumps are all there to challenge the riders, with some nasty climbs in the middle of the tracks topped off with some of the most amazing flow trails we have ever ridden on stage five and six.
This first stage starts close to Finale Ligure and is short by the race standards at 2.5km, the trail is very technical and will really hurt a few riders as there are some tough switch backs to ride with no zones to brake, meaning precise speed and bike control is really important to make the time count. This trail suits Nico Lau perfectly.
This stage is almost a family trail, constant flow and perfect corners, these type of trails are good for anyone to ride. The dirt was perfect damp and grippy. Anyone can win on this stage, just go fast and ride on the edge.
Getting back up to where stage one started, the terrain is similar but the height drop is less at only 200m of descent, plus it’s more gentle in form. Again hard rocks and dirt make for speed and quick changes in direction, with only a few surprises to catch the riders out. The end of the trail is typical terrace and cobble paths that drop the riders down into the valley behind Finale. For us this trail is good for riders like Jared Graves, as the course wont change much, so any practice will give those who can remember a good chance of going fast.
This is where is gets interesting, after a very long transfer, the riders are lifted up above Noli, but drop down towards Finale. Based on a downhill trail, the first part gives riders a false sense of security. The second part is steep rocky and covered in loose gravel. Braking can help or send the bike sideways, we had trouble riding this part of the course, we think probably this race stage is too difficult to be in an Enduro race as one mistake can create even experienced riders a few troubles.
Day two is when the riders get back on their bikes and ride up to the top of the highest hill near Nato Trail. It’s a short stage but left all the riders speach-less with how smooth and flowing it was. This type of trail is what Finale is famous for and will make for a nice change of riding compared to stage four.
After a long transfer the trails starts just below stage five and has a similar terrain, with open woods at the top. This stage is 8.5km long with a descent of 740 metres. It never ends and is absolutely perfect in form and flow. A few steep inclines in the middle mean riders will have to pedal a bit and will definitely burn the lungs. Chris Ball thinks that Francois Baille-Maitre will win this stage as it has climbs which he is adapted for.