A little bit of Rude-ness kept Yoann Barelli from his first Enduro World Series victory in his adopted hometown.
On a day where riders were forced to deal with a wide variety of conditions after rainy conditions early gave way to summer sun, Richie Rude, took the win. Rude, out of Redding, Conn., bested Barelli by about 40 seconds to keep the French rider from snagging the win at the SRAM Canadian Open at Crankworx on Sunday.
It was Rude's second victory in a row after claiming victory in Les Deux Alpes, France last month. He now has 2,110 points on the season heading into the final two races in Spain and Italy and surges past New Zealand's Justin Leov, who bowed out of the race after suffering a shoulder injury in the first stage.
Defending champion Jared Graves of Australia rounded out the podium.
Josh Carlson, an Australian who now calls Whistler home, won the first two stages and was well in contention before being slowed by a late flat.
Rude said after the race that he knew he was in striking distance, ultimately finishing top-five in each stage, and was primed to make a late charge. He did just that, posting the best time in the final stage by nearly 12 seconds.
"I knew that I was always a bit behind the leader and wanted to push that little extra bit," he said. "In Stage 5, I knew I could pull back time there, so I just put all my faith in that and just went for it.
"I just knew that if I rode at my pace, it was going to be good."
Rude said the course was most like the French rounds, as they're both fast and technical with great crowds in attendance. But there was just something more special about the B.C. track.
"Whistler takes it. I feel like it's a more prestigious event and it was a dream to win it," he said.
Though a bubbly Barelli was denied the victory, he still took joy in recording his top finish on the circuit.
"I'm feeling great. It's amazing to be on the podium in Whistler, my new home," he said. "At the beginning of the day, I was riding a little bit slow, but still, no crash. I was riding a little bit conservative.
"On Stage 3, I found the way. I had this sentence in my head: 'You're going to do it. You're going to do it. You're going to do it.' At the start of the last stage, I was like 'Smash it!' and I did."
Barelli said he didn't really have much of a hometown advantage, as he doesn't ride the bike park and tends to avoid the trails within Whistler's boundaries when he's here.
"I'm always away, so I don't really ride those trails," he said. "Those trails in Whistler are really demanding and you use a lot of energy, so most of the time, I ride in Squamish or Pemberton because it's more flowy. There's more descending."
Defending champion Jared Graves, meanwhile, was proud of hitting the podium, especially considering he's still working his way back into the fold after separating both shoulders in a training accident this spring.
He had a boost from last year's win going in, even if he didn't care for how the weather affected the course.
"Knowing you've been quick here before always gives you confidence," he said. "Conditions didn't really suit me, everything was so slimy and slippy.
"Every Australian wants it to be dusty and blown out."
Moseley motors to win
On the women's side, Tracy Moseley of the United Kingdom padded her overall lead with her fourth win in five outings. French riders Cecile Ravanel and Isabeau Courdurier were second and third, respectively.
"It's cool. It's been an amazing season. I can't ask for any more. But this was one race I'd never won here in Whistler," she said. "Being here for the third time, it was definitely something I wanted to leave having won at Whistler."
With weather curveballs thrown at contestants all week, Moseley was especially proud to make it out on top.
"The terrain is pretty relentless. There's always something technical. There's always some little climb and it's really physical," she said. "Conditions changed so much throughout the week as well, so we practiced in the wet and then the dry and then back in half and half.
"The riding's so unique and tough. It's not an easy race."
Moseley was concerned in Stage 2 in particular, as she "crashed quite a bit" and felt she was losing time. Ultimately, she placed second and was less than a second back of Ravanel. Moseley won three of the five stages overall.
"It was hard to find a good racing pace," she said. "I was trying to stay consistent all day and make sure I didn't make massive mistakes throughout the rest of the day, which was important."
Winners received $7,500 while the second and third-place finishers received $3,000 and $1,500, respectively.
In the amateur categories, Jennifer McTavish, Laura Battista, Quentin Emeriau, Todd Hellinga, Woody Hole and Adrien Dailly took victories.
pro Winners remember fallen rider
The race was the first after last weekend's race in Colorado, which was cancelled after the death of rider Will Olson in the third stage.
"It's such a tragic event and you think about that for a little bit, but I think it's better to let it go and just ride," Rude said. "You can't get too caught up with it, but you remember him."
Moseley, meanwhile, acknowledged the tragedy crossed her mind over the course of the last week, but had to ignore any apprehension it may have created.
"It certainly did, obviously after last week and in the build-up to this," she said. "Even when you're in the start gate, you don't really consider the risks you're taking. It's just part of racing. It's what we do.
"In practice, and taking every day, we realize how lucky we are to ride our bikes. If you thought about it, we wouldn't be able to ride our bikes as fast as we did."
Wide range of emotions for Carlson
Australian rider Josh Carlson, who lives in Vancouver and spends a fair amount of time in Whistler, felt the highs and lows of enduro racing in a short span.
Carlson won the first two stages in front of an adoring crowd, creating "the best feeling (he's) ever had racing," and had set himself up well with top-eight showings in the next two heading into the last task of the day.
But shortly after beginning his descent into what he hoped would be a victory run, a little hiss was his indication that all was not well.
"The whole day felt great. I felt like I was riding well and I was enjoying riding my bike," he said. "I dropped into Stage 5 and no more than 35 seconds into the run I felt I heard a (hissing noise) coming out of my back tire. I just thought it was a stick and hoped it was a stick.
"As I went through the next series of corners, it just got worse and worse, though it wasn't quite flat-flat yet. I was committed to the rocks, and by the time I came through the rocks, it was all over."
The toughest part of it all? Having that happen on the final stage was one Carlson had ridden the most out of anything slated in the race.
"That was the stage I felt the most confident on. It (the flat) had to happen straight away," he said regretfully.
Riding in Vancouver, Carlson said he was used to the slick conditions and handled them well, though he admitted he didn't feel like he'd exactly nailed his first couple runs.
"I felt pretty confident going into that wet situation," he said. "By the time I got to the end, I just had to try to ride it dry and attack as much as I could. Luckily enough, it worked out.
"It was a pretty wild ride on the way down, for sure, but luckily enough, I didn't make too many mistakes... By the time I got to the bottom, I didn't think it was that good of a run."
Carlson is slated to take part in the dual slalom and downhill events before Crankworx is through. His participation in the final Enduro World Series events may be limited, as he and his wife are expecting a baby at the end of September. If he does get to compete, though, he'll be motivated.
"If anything, it just builds the fire," he said. "I was riding good and the confidence was there. I can just build from that.
"(I want to) make sure that this weekend wasn't a fluke."
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