A delayed start to the season has perhaps left Neve Abraham's B.C. Enduro Series challengers underestimating him.
That probably won't happen any longer.
Abraham won all four stages at the June 5 race in Kamloops to emerge with his first 15-and-under win of the season. The Pemberton resident finished 15 seconds up on Carter Woods and 22 seconds ahead of Johnathan Helly.
Abraham, who rides under the tutelage of Katrina Strand, credited plenty of pre-riding for helping to prepare him for race day.
The first two stages of the day forced riders to grind, as Abraham's finishing times were roughly 14 and 10 minutes, respectively. When juxtaposed with the latter two, where riders finished in roughly 105 and 35 seconds, respectively, they seemed like a long haul.
"I am more of a downhill (rider) because I'm not the strongest in the uphill," he said. "Stage 1 was pretty pedally but I just worked really hard."
Abraham explained the trails were fairly similar to what he's used to riding, with dry and rocky conditions.
"It's a lot like Pemberton. It was pretty dusty and sometimes there were some pretty chunky rocks," he said.
Abraham missed the first B.C. Enduro Series race after sustaining an early season crash, but has rocketed up the finisher board since returning.
"The second one (overall) I was still pretty scared and not going really hard... I didn't want to crash again," he said. "In Williams Lake (two weeks ago), I felt pretty comfortable and ended up in third and in Kamloops, I felt almost full."
Admittedly not quite back at 100 per cent, Abraham said knowing he still has a little bit of extra comfort he can find will only help him from here.
"As soon as that first (place) came in, I definitely got my confidence boosted a lot," he said.
In the pro men's division, meanwhile, Whistler resident Yoann Barelli cruised to the win, knocking off Dustin Adams and Stu Dickson by 34 and 35 seconds, respectively.
An Enduro World Series contender, Barelli said he's shifted his approach to the smaller races, using them more for fun and mental refreshment than training, even though the race was 25 kilometres and over 1.5 kilometres of climbing in cooking hot conditions.
"It's just for me, just being up there, being with my friends and enjoying the race," he said. "I don't put the same focus that I'm putting on EWS on these events. I can't do it.
"It's so intense when we are racing EWS."
While Kamloops conditions are quite different from Whistler's, Barelli said they're similar to his home country of France. In a fun twist, he'll be heading back home in about a week with his partner, Strand, to ride the Trans-Provence.
"It is a race, but it's more of an adventure and a social event," he said. "I'm doing it for that."
Whistler's Shane Gayton also found himself in the pro men's top 10 in sixth, while Leonie Picton scored the open women's win, her third of the year. Strand was fourth.
Local resident Cesar Gairin notched second in the 30-39 men, Jennifer McTavish won the U21 women's event, Jaya Guibert won the short course U21 women's race, Kasper Woolley took the short course U21 men's while Conrad Murdoch, Carter Krasny and Felix Abraham were fourth, sixth and eighth, respectively.
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