The final race of the 2019 Enduro World Series took place in Zermatt, Switzerland. With stunning alpine scenery, and the Matterhorn in the background, photographers were spoiled for shots. After a long season, the final race was going to be a one-day test held over five stages. To add to the difficulty, many stages were expected to start in the alpine and riders would be dealing with thin air and high altitude.
Matt was feeling confident on the bike after a great weekend at Red Bull Hardline. Changing from huge jumps in the Welsh forests, to tight technical corners in the Swiss mountains shows what an adaptable all-around rider Matt is.
Friday – Training
Training started off with a train ride through the mountains and taking a gondola to the top of Stage 1, where riders saw what to expect for the weekend. The alpine single track with lots of exposed rocks and tight switchbacks was going to require commitment and late braking.
Stage 2 started at a slightly lower elevation and therefore had more vegetation, trees, and roots. Matt was enjoying the varied terrain and felt good being back on his Firebird 29er enduro rig.
Stages 3 and 4 kept the rocky feel with more alpine trails. Matt was looking at lines for speed and safety. With sharp, square-edge rocks everywhere, the weekend would test the equipment just as much as the riders, and preventing punctures was going to be important for a high-placed finish.
Stage 5 was the last of the year, and the Queen stage. At 770m descent, this would be the longest stage of the weekend headed from the alpine back into Zermatt, finishing in the car-free town. With training complete, Matt’s mind turned to recovery and refueling to be ready to charge on race day.
Although injured, Eddie is still travelling to the events, supporting the team and continuing his media duties by taking over the EWS Instagram, filming the riders on the stages, getting interviews and entertaining the viewers – Eddie was in his element.
Saturday – Race Day
Stage 1 started out well for Matt. His 6th place finish showed he was on the pace but, like all riders, he found the stage physical and breathless. Pushing hard at the start, he went into the red and, due to the altitude and thin air, didn’t recover until long after the stage finish.
A mistake on the next stage saw Matt lose close to 15 seconds to the leader. Settling back into his flow, Matt made back some time on stage 3 with another 6th place finish, where he gained time on the open, fast, rocky section.
A clean ride, in which Matt conserved energy and focused on carrying speed, gave him a 10th place finish on stage 4, and he moved back inside the top 10 overall. With the long Queen stage to come, and having already raced hard for close to thirty minutes, Matt and all the other riders were down to their last reserves of energy.
The last stage of the 2019 Enduro World Series had an old-school feel to it. A variety of terrain, speeds and gradation tested every aspect of the rider’s ability. Matt was pumped up to finish on a high and charged out the start. Settling into the run, he was feeling good and used some technical skills to get around the tightest of corners using endo turns on his front wheel. Matt finished the stage in 9th, securing a great 8th place for the round and his fifth top 10 in a row!
With the season done and dusted, Matt finished in a fantastic 8th place, rewarding his consistent speed and top-10 finishes throughout his first full EWS season. Despite Eddie missing two rounds due to his injury, he finished just behind Matt in 9th. A great placing, but it left everyone wondering what could have been. Congratulations for fellow Pivot rider Cole Lucas, who finished off his first year racing in the Elite Men’s category with an impressive 14th overall and has been learning and improving all year.
A great 2019 season has taken the riders all over the globe and the whole team has enjoyed it immensely, with a huge thanks to everyone for all the support over the years!
Keep posted for another exciting race, in which Matt and Cole will be competing in the first Enduro Trophy of Nations race for the hugely competitive New Zealand team in Finale Ligure, Italy.