A busy weekend saw the Pivot Factory Racing team split over two countries racing in two disciplines. After a really successful weekend racing at the EWS in Val Di Fassa, Eddie was sitting 3rd in the overall championship. Making the tough call, Eddie and Matt made the decision to race the Enduro World Series round 5 in Les Orres, missing the Downhill World Cup in Andorra. Emilie and Bernard would be flying the flag in Andorra on the downhill bikes, ready to attack the steep and rough track.
Wednesday: Walking the Track
Track walk in Andorra saw small changes to the track; it’s rough, steep and tough, but this makes it a rider’s favorite. The changes were welcome and took riders off the main hardpack trail and into fresh woods with some line choice.
Even with the late afternoon rainstorms, the track was super dry and dusty. Over the last few years, deep ruts and holes have made the steep track even harder and more physical.
No track walking in Les Orres for Matt and Eddie, but rather resting the legs and getting the bikes prepped. The rest and recovery involved some sailing on the lake and enjoying what a new venue in Les Orres has to offer.
Thursday: Training Day
Emilie kicked off training in Andorra. Taking her time to build up to race speed, she was enjoying the steep and technical lower sections of the track. Being a light rider, Emilie is able to brake later on the steep tracks and is nimble enough to carry speed through the tightest trees.
Bernard was loving the track; spotting a gnarly gap during track walk, he went hard and hit the gap first run! Pulling up over a road and hitting the gap, he estimated it saved him close to one second over the normal line. With only a handful of other riders daring to jump the gap, it was a strong section for Bernard.
Timed training ended the day in Andorra with Bernard going 6th and Emilie 3rd fastest. An evening checking split times and GoPro footage showed them some areas to work on in the morning of qualification to gain those last few seconds needed.
Day one of training in Les Orres gave Eddie and Matt the chance to ride stages 1 to 4 that they would be racing on Saturday. Most of the trails follow the existing hand-cut trails in the bike park. Heavy rain at the start of the week left some soft trails with some slick sections.
Stage 2 was a monster and quite rightly the queen stage. With 1,050m descending, a few little climbs and some brand-new, fresh, loamy sections, it would test all aspects of the riders.
Stage 3 was super techy and tight to start. Eddie was enjoying sliding the back wheel around the tight corners while Matt used the “Enduro turn,” pivoting on the front brake and wheel before landing and peddling out the corner.
Stage 4 was the shortest of the weekend, but came after a long 7km liaison. Matt and Eddie were both feeling good on the bikes and getting used to the stages and mix of terrain and surfaces.
Friday: Qualification & Training
Pre-qualification training went well for both Bernard and Emilie; both working on slight improvements, they were finding the track a fun challenge. The hot sun had dried off any sign of moisture on the track and some parts were becoming a dust bowl, making vision a challenge.
Emilie charged out of the gate for her qualification run, carrying speed over the first split, but really letting off the brakes lower down on the steeper, more technical section that she excels at. Crossing the line in 1st, there was a long wait until her time was bettered. Finishing with a 4th fastest qualifying time was a great result for Emilie and gave her a confidence boost for the final.
Equally impressive, Bernard qualified 15th! Losing some time in the first split and then feeling he rode too safe, there was more to come. The top 20 qualification guarantees a spot on the live Redbull TV feed and packed finish area with a great atmosphere.
A second day of training was in store for Eddie and Matt at the Enduro with the final 4 stages to learn. Stage 5 started the day with a different feel to the previous 4. Lower down the mountain, it was warmer, drier and had more vegetation growing onto the track.
Stage 7 and 8 ended the tiring days with two challenging stages that would be really tough at the end of a weekend’s racing. Matt was enjoying stage 7, which was still a bit slick from the rain early in the week. Drifting and sliding in training, he finished the stage with a huge grin on his face.
The day’s final stage was short, but physical. Originally built in 2001 for a French Cup Downhill race, it shows how far bikes and riders have come with today’s riders flying down on lightweight trail bikes after peddling to the stage.
After two days of training and finding the flow of Les Orres, Eddie and Matt were feeling confident to back up the previous weekend’s great results when racing kicked off in the morning.
Saturday: Finals Day One
Finals day for Emilie and Bernard was another hot and dusty one, with a super dry track breaking up and making one of the dustiest tracks either racer had ever ridden. Training in the morning was spent getting used to the dust and fine-tuning lines.
Emilie set off putting the power down out of the start gate and getting up to speed quickly. Not the fastest on the first split, she was gaining time all the way down, going faster and faster as the track got steeper and steeper. Hitting the bottom corners perfectly, she crossed the line into 2nd, guaranteeing her a podium finish. You could hear her scream with happiness and relief when she crossed the line. A great result after a few tough races is brilliant for Emilie and the whole team was stoked.
Bernard was on a flyer; pinning the key section and hitting his gap, he was up by 2.5 seconds at split 3! The speed was there, but the dry, tough conditions saw his wheel slip over the top of a corner and put him into the dirt. Losing time, he was straight back up and charging down the track once again. Finishing in 17th on such a tough track with a crash is a fantastic result, but not what Bernard wanted. He will be charging next week in Les Gets.
The Enduro started brilliantly with Eddie winning stage 1 by the smallest of margins – 0.3 seconds over a 6-minute stage is insanely close. Matt was also on a fast run, crossing the line in 5th for a great start for both Pivot riders.
Stage 2 was the Queen stage and the longest of the weekend at more than 10 minutes and 1000m descending. Eddie had found his flow in Les Orres and came second on the stage, only 3 seconds off the win.
Stage 3 was super steep and techy; riders needed to be patient to be fast. Consistent and clean riding from both Eddie and Matt saw them place 6th and 10th respectively. The tough stage caught some other riders out and after 3 stages, Eddie was in the lead overall with Matt in 7th.
A long, hot liaison up to stage 4 saw the fatigue set in and made the final stage harder than expected. Matt’s consistency paid off with another fast stage that saw him sitting in 7th overall after 4 stages. Eddie finished the stage 6th and would start the second day racing in 2nd overall.
Sunday: Finals Day Two
After driving through the night, Sunday saw the team reunited with the downhill half, bringing extra support and motivation for Matt and Eddie.
A huge storm in the morning forced stage 5 to be cancelled as the chairlifts were closed due to lighting risks. This left 3 stages to race on Sunday and with times incredibly tight, anything could happen.
Stage 6 finished with some fresh loamy single-track turns. The riders were flying through the section, finding the grip and pushing hard. Matt pushed a little too hard, sliding out within sight of the finish. Finishing in 6th despite the crash showed how fast he was riding. Eddie finished 4th on the stage and slipped back to 3rd overall.
Stage 7 was one of the few tracks that stayed mainly on bike park trails. Eddie put down a fantastic run, winning the stage by more than 2 seconds and pushing him into the lead with one stage still to race.
After 40 minutes of racing and with one stage to race, Matt was in 7th and Eddie was leading by less than half a second. The final stage was a relatively short run into town and the finish area. Matt had another solid run and finished 10th on the stage, securing 7th overall for the weekend. He quickly joined the rest of the team to see if Eddie could hold on to the smallest of leads.
Eddie was flying on the final stage, pushing the limits of grip in the wooded sections before sprinting as hard as possible across the ski piste and across the line, winning the stage and the event. The team went crazy and rushed the finish area to congratulate him.
Eddie’s first Enduro World Series win and Matt’s 7th place also saw the team awarded the second fastest of the day! With the whole team in Les Orres, there were big celebrations following a great weekend of podiums and wins at two events in two countries!
Thank you to everyone who helps us go racing. A great weekend like this doesn’t happen by accident, and all the help we get is hugely appreciated.
The whole team will be racing next weekend for round 6 of the Downhill World Cup in Les Gets, France; stay tuned for more exciting racing and hopefully, more champagne!