This weekend Zakarias Johansen (NOR – Specialized Nordic) and Raphaela Richter (GER – Radon Magura Factory Team) were crowned the winners of the second stop of this year’s Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series.

Hier testen die Ingenieure selbst: Ghost-Entwicklerin Tina Kutschki auf einer der 6 Stages.
Doing the testing themselves! Ghost-engineer Tina Kutschki riding one of the six stages.

For the fourth time the Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series returned to Willingen for another race embedded into the BIKE Festival among lots of other competitions like Downhill, a pump track competition and even a marathon.

André Kleindienst vom Bergamont Hayes Factory Team vor dem Start.
André Kleindienst of the Bergamont Hayes Factory Team confident at the race start.

350 riders from 13 nations competed on 6 stages along the 37-kilometer course, covering 1100 metres of difference in altitude. Stages four and five were just added to the competition and therefore completely new for all riders, and also the other stages had been previously modified for the occasion, creating a perfect and versatile course that promised loads of fun.

Im Rahmen des gleichzeitig stattfindenden Festivals zog es auch zahlreiche Hersteller ins Hochsauerland.
Many manufacturers were also present in the expo area in Hochsauerland.

After registrations and some last organisational issues, it was time for the first obligatory training session. While the weather seemed to be at its best at first, a heavy shower in the evening and during the whole night had the track completely soaked with water just in time for Sunday’s race. Especially the loose forest soil at the newly added stages posed quite an obstacle for all riders. Even after it had ceased to rain on Sunday morning it was just not warm enough for the track to dry in time for the race.

Trotz einiger Regenfälle waren die Strecken relativ Trocken.
Despite a few raindrops, the trails remained pretty dry.

At the end of the day it seemed that Zakarias Johansen (NOR – Specialized Nordic) knew best how to cope with these conditions and he once more proved his skills after he already took the second place in Treuchtlingen. The young Norwegian set a time of 11:10.48 minutes and finished with a 13-second lead over Christian Textor (GER – Team Bulls) who finished in second place. Textor’s result did not exactly come as a surprise after he already finished in third in Treuchtlingen, but now he definitely has proven that it was the right decision to turn from Downhill to Enduro. Gustav Wildhaber (SUI – Cube Action Team), who also competed in the iXS European Downhill Cup this weekend, finished in third place.

Laura Brethauer vom NS Bikes Team
Laura Brethauer of the NS Bikes Team.

In the Elite Women category, Raphaela Richter (GER – Radon Magura Factory Team) once more succeeded and clearly defined her role as the odds-on favourite this season. Veronika Brüechle (GER – Stevens MTB Racing Team) finished in second place and Lisa Policzka (GER – Ghost Riot Racing) completed the podium in third.

Die Siegerin der Womens-Category: Raphaela Richter.
Winner of the women’s category: Raphaela Richter.

Fastest rider of the Masters category was André Kleindienst (GER – Bergamont Hayes Team), pushing Benny Herold (GER – Giant Germany Offroad Team) into second place, while Marcel Ziegler (GER – Bike House Weiser) finished in third place.

Finish Stage 6 - SSES Willingen 2016

The race in Willingen was the perfect follow-up for the opening of the season in Treuchtlingen. The race has officially been established as an annual part of the BIKE festival and will definitely return for another round next season!

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Words & Photos: Racement