Before the 2018 Enduro World Series kicks off in March, we present to you the winner of last year’s tipping game. The lucky winner was Salvador Laiz from Spain, who out of the 9,511 participants made the most accurate predictions, thus securing a Santa Cruz Hightower LT Team Replica.

The Santa Cruz Hightower LT Team Replica, that Mark Scott and Iago Garay rode at last year’s EWS is so sexy that we were very tempted to take part in the competition and make predictions ourselves. But of course, we managed to summon the willpower and self-sacrifice to hold ourselves back, and after X rounds Salvador came out on top. The bike is specced with the finest componentry available and is 100% race-proven. The suspension consists of a RockShox Lyrik fork and a matching Monarch Plus DebonAir shock. The new SRAM CODE brakes take care of slowing this bullet down, and making sure that all that power isn’t lost, the Santa Cruz rolls on Santa Cruz Reserve carbon wheels encased in MAXXIS Minion DHR II tires. With SRAM as the main sponsor of the team, it obviously comes equipped with a SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain, and a Reverb with a 1x remote.

The Santa Cruz Hightower LT Team Replica was handed over to its lucky new owner at LTM-Racing in San Sebastián de los Reyes, near Madrid.

Facts about the ENDURO-EWS tipping game

9,511 participants out of total 104 countries made 23,422 predictions. On average there were 2,930 predictions per round.

Most frequently predicted first place men: Richie Rude
Most frequently predicted first place women: Cécile Ravanel

All in all, there was only one participant whose predictions were 100% correct in one of the rounds: Mauricio P. from Ecuador. Mauricio was tied with Salvador at the end, so a lucky draw had to decide. Click here to find out how well you did.

Interview with Salvador Laiz

How did you get into mountain biking?
My first ever mountain bike was a Bianchi (I can’t remember which model it was), in 1991 or 1992 when I was 18 (45 now). MTB was booming in Spain at that time. I gave it a try and ended up racing XC until 1998.

What bike’s have you ridden in the past?
After that entry level Bianchi (which I managed to break on a bad crash after a drop), my first “real” bike was a Specialized S-Works (steel, hardtail) which I raced during the 90’s. Then I turned wiser and focused on the ‘have fun on the bike’ and began to buy Metas from Commençal. Now I have a Meta v4.

How did you win the tipping game?/What was your winning strategy?
I tried placing predictions for the first time in 2016, just for fun, but it didn’t go well that season. The 2017 season was a difficult one, with all that rain on the first events, and lots of mechanicals and injuries the rest of the year. On women’s races, I went for the ‘logical podiums’ all season (Ravanel-Courdurier-Winton), and it paid up. Men’s podiums were tough to pin, with lots of top level riders. My choices at first were Graves, Rude and Maes, but then I had to change to Dailly, Sam Hill and some randoms. Lots of luck, I guess, as there was a tie at the end of the game, and the dice rolled my number.

What would you say about your new Santa Cruz?/What have been your personal highlights?
I was given the bike on Jan, 13, but I have managed to take some 8 rides or so.
That morning was my first ever time on a 29er, and it was a blast! Pedro from LTMRacing (Spanish distributor) and Emilio from Blacktown Trails (a trail guiding business in Madrid) took me to a trail area near El Escorial, and after the first run, I was immediately used to the bike, asking for more, even when the snow began to fall. The bike feels super light, handles nicely, climbs very well and it’s a pleasure going down! I’d say it’s easy to go fast, up and down.

I only miss a coil sprung fork (the Lyrik is awesome, it’s just personal preference due to too many years riding with coils).

Do you have any exciting plans this year with your bike?
The crew have been planning a 5 day trip in the Cantabrian Mountains between Asturias and León for some time now, but we just haven’t found the time. Real high-quality trails. We’ll try 100% this year.

Salvador, we wish you all the best in the 2018 season, and lots of fun on your new bike for many years to come!


For more information about Santa Cruz head to santacruzbicycles.com

Words: Valentin Rühl Photos: Santa Cruz