Jesse Melamed was one rider away from claiming his first-ever Enduro World Series win.
But he received a bit of a Rude awakening.
The local rider was denied in his bid to capture the big one, the SRAM Canadian Open Enduro, in front of an adoring crowd on Sunday. He still easily beat his career-best sixth, also set at Whistler in 2013, and claimed his first EWS podium.
Sitting on the hot seat reserved for the overall leader for several riders, Melamed managed to hold off a stiff challenge from Vancouver resident Josh Carlson, finding himself 1.52 seconds clear.
"It was hot, actually. That sun was pretty hot," he said of sitting in the top spot. "It was pretty nerve-wracking."
But 2015 champion Richie Rude, behind the eight ball after flatting in Stage 2, made up plenty of time by winning the next three stages, including the final one from Top of the World by nearly 15 seconds. The win, by roughly seven seconds over Melamed, was his fourth in six outings this year and helped to extend his overall lead.
"Stage 2 was going well and then I flatted. I thought it was kind of over then," he said. "We had three more stages left and I tried to pull through and stay focused.
"You go through the whole day and then you've still got to remember you've got a 20-minute stage at the end. You can lose minutes or you can make up 30 seconds."
Melamed acknowledged he had visions of gold while waiting for the final results to come in, and even when Rude's day seems dead and buried, the proverbial zombie can still emerge.
"I heard Richie flatted and so Martin (Maes), after he came down, I thought I had it," he said. "(With) Richie, I count it as a win because what can I do against him? What can anyone do against him?"
On the women's side, the Cecile Ravanel show continued as to make mincemeat of her competition. Ravanel, seeking her first EWS overall title, knocked off runner-up and fellow Frenchwoman Isabeau Coudurier by 56.5 seconds and Canadian Casey Brown by just over a full minute.
Like Rude, Ravanel had a bit of a rough start before roaring back to win the final three stages.
"It was a tough day for me. I had mechanical problems in Stage 1 and lost four seconds of the lead. I flatted in Stage 2 and lost 47 seconds," she said. "Onto Stage 3, I ran it like a cross-country. I got there one minute before my start and I was totally tired.
"At the end, it was a happy ending... It's a pretty tough race."
Not surprisingly, Ravanel has the overall lead on the strength of five wins and a second-place showing in her lone non-triumph.
Full results are available on www.crankworx.com.
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