Sun, sea, Italian food and some of the best trails in the world, it’s hard to think of a better place to round out the 2014 Enduro World Series than Finale Ligure. Hype before the weekend centred on some big names from across mountain biking turning their skills to enduro, as well as the long-anticipated return of a few familiar faces to the mix.


After five rounds across Europe and North America without him, Fabien Barel was back and the Canyon Factory Enduro Team was finally whole again! Still undergoing therapy for the cracked vertebra sustained from his crash in Chile back in April, Fabien wanted to use the final round of the EWS to check his form, see how his rehab was coming along and get a feel for competing again. What happened next over those two days of racing was simply unbelievable.


Right from the first stage it was obvious that almost half a year out of action had done nothing to dampen Fab’s racing instincts. He was on it. After setting the fastest time on the opening stage, he kept things consistent through the rest of the day to finish within a second of the top spot:

“Just coming back to racing was a victory for me today and when I saw I was in the lead I couldn’t believe it. It’s just amazing. The emotion is hard to explain but I put all my passion and all my heart into today. I’ve been back on the bike for three weeks now and I thought if I can get in the top 20 that would be great. Being at the front is just unreal.”


Despite getting a little wild and losing time on Stage 1, Joe Barnes fought back to win Stage 2 on terrain that played to his strengths. The Top Chief rounded out the weekend with a flourish, taking 3rd and 2nd on the final two stages to secure 8th place in the race and 7th spot in the overall rankings for the season:
“That was my kind of race this weekend. I slid out on Stage 1 but kept it nice and smooth on Stage 2. The second day was even better for me and I was able to improve my position a little and defend my spot in the overall against the other riders. Finishing in 7th for the season is ace, I’m well happy with that!”


Ludo May was out of action with a broken arm but that didn’t stop him from supporting the team, especially on one of the crucial sections of Stage 6 when the riders were flat out. Ines Thoma was feeling the effects of her Trans Provence-winning ride from the week before but benefitted from the extra support taking 5th on the weekend for 5th in the overall and her place in the elite of female mountain biking:

“I felt a bit like an old lady on the second day. I’m still recovering from Trans Provence so 2 1⁄2 hours of climbing this morning was horrible. Seeing Ludo standing next to the track just screaming his head off at me made me want to push even further though. Getting 5th in the end made it all worth it!”


There are no words to describe the reaction when news came through that Fabien had taken the win by a margin of nine seconds. It was a high-intensity cocktail of utter shock, huge relief and massive excitement. Emotions were running high as Fabien took to the stage for the prize ceremony after a tough year on the sidelines:
“I’m not the type of person to have tears in my eyes and this was twice the case this weekend. […] I’ve been back on the bike for not even a month now and I’ve been training the last three weeks especially on my core fitness to allow my back to hold on this weekend. […] I spent two months just laying down in my bed and looking at the ceiling. There are a lot of things running through your mind. […]Being here this weekend was just a huge positive energy boost for me. Putting it all-in like on the first stage yesterday gave me even more motivation and I tried to be better on the other stages. This morning when I woke up I was like, ‘well, yesterday was just like a victory and today is just a bonus!’ […] If there’s something I can say after today, it’s this: whatever has happened to you in your life – don ́t ever give up. Whatever you want to do, whatever you dream about – just do it!”


Looking back to that crash at EWS Round 1 in Chile, it was touch and go as to whether Fabien would ever ride a mountain bike again, let alone compete. If anyone had predicted then that he would come back to win the final round of the season, you’d tell them to get a grip. The fact that someone could do it is still unimaginable. The fact that it was Fabien who did do it is no real surprise. For a guy who has little left to prove over a long and successful career, the first weekend in October 2014 will have to go down as one of the highlights.

The Canyon Factory Enduro Team and the Canyon Crew congratulates Jared Graves and Tracy Mosley for taking the EWS overall rankings.
For us, the action doesn’t stop quite yet. We’re off to the south of France to end the season in style at Roc d’Azur. Come and drop by if you’re going to be there!

Words: CFET PR | Pictures: Jeremie Reullier & Matt Wragg

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