Posted on September 23 2019
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 test held on one day over 5 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 altitudes.
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 round rider Matt is.
Friday – Training
Training started off with a train ride through the mountains and a gondola to the top of stage 1 where the riders saw what to expect for the rest of the weekend. 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 feeling good 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 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 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 traveling 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 well for Matt. A 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 second 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 where Matt conserved energy and focused on carrying speed gave him a 10th place finish on stage 4 and moved back inside the top 10 for the day. With the long Queen stage to come and having already raced hard for close to 30 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 gradients tested every aspect of the riders ability. Matt was pumped up to finish on a high and charged out the start. Settling into the run he was feeling good, using some technical skills to get around the tightest of corners using endo turns on his front wheel. Matt finished the stage 9th securing a great 8th place for the round and his fifth top ten in a row!
With the season done and dusted Matt finished in a fantastic 8th, 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 left everyone wondering what could have been.