Coming into the final race of the season, Sam Hill (Chain Reaction Cycles-Mavic) has a slim lead in the race for the men's overall title. Photo courtesy Enduro World Series
The Enduro World Series will once more crown its champions in Italy this weekend at the last race of the year, the Bluegrass Finalenduro powered by SRAM in Finale Ligure. For the fifth time, Finale Outdoor Resort will host the closing race of the season, as 500 riders take to the iconic trails of this famous Italian resort as they race from the mountains to the sea.
Frenchman Adrien Dailly (Lapierre) is a close second to Hill, 110 points behind. Photo courtesy Enduro World Series
This year riders get to explore a completely new area, as the first day of racing takes them to trails in the Val Maremola, Lona and Pietra Ligure regions. For the first time, there will be a stage that leaves from the highest peak in the area, opening up a whole new network of trails that will challenge and push the riders. The race will feature seven stages over two days and take in over 100km, enough to test even the hardiest of riders as they struggle to keep bike and body together as they head back to the Finale Piazza on the shores of the Mediterranean.
And for two riders the stakes couldn't be higher this weekend - as a whole season of hard work comes down to this race and the chance to be crowned the series champion. Legend of the sport Sam Hill (Chain Reaction Cycles-Mavic) will be going head to head with the young Frenchman Adrien Dailly (Lapierre) as they do battle for the men's title. Hill's slim lead of 110 points in the series rankings over Dailly means he can't afford to relax for a second this weekend. Also in with an outside chance is Greg Callaghan (Cube Action Team) who has 400 points to make up on Hill, but a bad day in the office for both Hill and Dailly would give Callaghan a chance.
In the women's race Cecile Ravine (Commencal Vallnord Enduro Team) has already sealed the title for the second year in a row. Photo courtesy Enduro World Series
In the women's race Cecile Ravanel (Commencal Vallnord Enduro Team) has already sealed the title for the second year in a row, but the battle for second place is tight. Katy Winton (Trek Factory Racing Enduro Team) and Isabeau Courdurier (SUNN) are tied on 2070 points, and just 50 points back is Ines Thoma (Canyon Factory Enduro Team). Anita Gehrig (Ibis Cycles Enduro Race Team) lies fourth and a good race from her could still see her finish the season in the top three.
For the first time, there will be a stage that leaves from the highest peak in the area. Photo courtesy Enduro World Series
It's a done deal in the U21 men as well, with Killian Callaghan's incredible season allowing him to take it easy in Italy, safe in the knowledge that the title is his. It's a similar story in the U21 women, with Martha Gill's consistent results all year cementing her place atop the standings.
Karim Amour (BH-Miranda Racing Team) has won six of this season's seven races and will roll up to the start line this weekend already the master category champion. Mary McConneloug has done likewise in master's women.
Who will be on top when the sun sets on the 2017 Enduro World Series. Photo courtesy Enduro World Series
Ibis Cycles Enduro Race Team lead the team points by a slim margin over last year's winner Rocky Mountain Urge bp, with Canyon Factory Enduro team lying third.
Enrico Guala, of the organizing committee, said: "The 2017 EWS Finale Ligure course this year is part of the FLOW Festival and will expand everyone's perception of this incredible riding destination on the Mediterranean Riviera. During the first four years, we have been riding the classic spot in Finale Ligure and the surrounding villages, Nato Base, Madonna della Guardia, Ivoland, Le Manie, surfing from the flowy beech forest trails of the Melogno to the gnarly lines of DH above Varigotti.
"But there is way more to discover and ride around Finale. And it's where we will guide you for the 10th anniversary of Finalenduro, fifth EWS in a row that will wrap the 2017 season on the Riviera shores. Finale Outdoor Resort territory includes the highest peak of the Province of Savona, Mount Carmo at 1398mt above sea level. The peak where EWS riders will start their race this year, pushing the borders of what you can ride in a single day."
Added Chris Ball, Managing Director of the Enduro World Series: "There's no better place to wrap up what has been an incredible season. It's felt that the whole series, its riders and partners have truly stepped up another notch this year and we look forward to celebrating the culmination of it all once again on the shores of the Mediterranean."
You can follow this weekend's race through live timing, race feed, and Quarq GPS at enduroworldseries.com.