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High Speed - Race Day 1, EWS Aspen 2017

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In keeping with what had become tradition at the Enduro World Series this season, no sooner than the last practice session ended, the skies opened up to dump a massive amount of moisture on what had been dry and dusty trails. Riders awoke to list rain and sitting water from the deluge that came down overnight, and just like that, it looked as if it was going to be another muddy battle here in Aspen. Luckily though this was not to be the case.The dirt in Colorado is so dry and loose that it literally sucks up moisture before your eyes, and add some sun to the mix and you have hero dirt under your tires before it's even time for lunch. And while the early starters had a rough go of it in some slippery and sticky trails, the top men and women contested each of the day's three stages with primo conditions.For the women, it would once again be Cecile Ravanel who dominated the day. Even a slow start by taking fourth on stage one didn't slow her down en route to a thirty-one second lead over Isabeau Courdurier by day's end. Casey Brown made a return to EWS racing this weekend and sits just seven seconds behind Isabeau and just in front of Anita Gehrig and Katy Winton. And while a win may be out of reach, the riders stacked in the top six all have a legitimate shot at getting on the podium with one day of racing still to come.The men's race saw Sam Hill start the day with a stage win to silence the critics who said he would suffer in the altitude. Proving once again that the myth of Sam not being strong on the pedals is just that. A myth. Of course, the real story of the day was two time defending World Champion, Richie Rude, finally finding his form and top speed. He absolutely dominated stage 2 with a winning margin of ten seconds despite a crash. He crashed again in stage 3, dumping mud and dirt out of his helmet at the finish line, but still finished the day almost nine seconds clear of Hill. If Richie can stay on his bike tomorrow it doesn't look like anyone will be able to touch him. Martin Maes, Jared Graves, and Damien Oton round out the top 5, while series front runners Adrein Dailly and Greg Callaghan sit much further back. And with a tight race between the top three in the overall series, the struggles of Dailly and Callaghan bode very well for Sam Hill.Day two of racing kicks off with a massive stage, followed by lots of fresh cut gnarly goodness in the afternoon. Racing is racing and as they say, anything can still happen.
Florian Nicolai peers out the window as the rain keeps falling early in the morning.
Florian Nicolai peers out the window as the rain keeps falling early in the morning.
Yesterday dust and today mud to start things off.
Yesterday dust, and today mud to start things off.
The clouds eventually broke and the sun would begin to dry the trails at a rapid rate.
The clouds eventually broke and the sun would begin to dry the trails at a rapid rate.
Better than TV and Breakfast - the view out the accommodation window.
Better than TV and Breakfast - the view out the accommodation window.
ALN prepping for a big day in Aspen.
Andreane Lanthier-Nadeau prepping for a big day in Aspen.
Justin Frey getting suspension dialed in the SRAM pits.
Justin Frey getting his suspension dialed in the SRAM pits.
Chris Ball our fearless leader took a spill but still smiling.
Chris Ball, the Enduro World Series fearless leader took a bad spill on track earlier in the week but he's still smiling and making sure all the details are buttoned up on the hill.
Big rains last night meant mud spikes up front today for some.
Big rains last night meant mud spikes up front today for some.
Tubal Davis finds out how slick the woods are on stage 1.
Jubal Davis finds out how slick the woods are on stage 1.
10th on the day for Bex Baraona.
10th on the day for Bex Baraona.
ALN started off the day near the front but would finish up in 6th.
Andreane Lanthier-Nadeau started off the day near the front, but would finish up in 6th.
Caro Gehrig sits 9th.
Caro Gehrig sits 9th.
Jerome Clements blazes past in the blink of an eye.
Jerome Clementz blazes past in the blink of an eye.
Thunderstorms threatened as riders rolled out of Snowmass and headed over to Aspen Moutain for stage 2. Luckily nothing but a few drops fell all day.
Thunderstorms threatened as riders rolled out of Snowmass and headed over to Aspen Moutain for stage 2. Luckily nothing but a few drops fell all day.
6th for Robin Wallner and only 10 seconds back of that ever elusive first podium.
6th for Robin Wallner and only 10 seconds back of that ever elusive first podium.
Casey Brown is clearly well rested up she sits in third at the end of day one.
Casey Brown is clearly well rested up, she sits in third at the end of day one.
Isabeau Courdurier came out swinging with a win on stage one but was over taken by Cecile by days end.
Isabeau Courdurier came out swinging with a win on stage one, but was over taken by Cecile by days end.
Yeti s Duncan Nason took the lead today for the junior men.
Yeti's Duncan Nason took the lead today for the junior men.
Jesse Melamed says the stages on day 2 will suit him better and he is looking to move up from his current place in 10th.
Jesse Melamed says the stages on day 2 will suit him better and he is looking to move up from his current place in 10th.
9th for Curtis Keene after coming back from a broken collarbone suffered in Madeira.
9th for Curtis Keene after coming back from a broken collarbone suffered in Madeira.
back in the mix and only 11 seconds out of the lead Jared Graves was happy with his day.
Back in the mix and only 11 seconds out of the lead, Jared Graves was happy with his day.
Isabeau was all smiles after her stage one finish.
Isabeau was all smiles after her stage one finish.
Back on form and dominating despite two big crashes. It s good to see Richie Rude out front again.
Back on form and dominating despite two big crashes. It's good to see Richie Rude out front again.
Richie Rude was on a tear today perhaps we will see him return to dominant form Da
Richie Rude was on a tear today, perhaps we will see him return to dominant form?
Katy Winton sits in fifth after day one. She will be looking to pick up the pace tomorrow.
Katy Winton sits in fifth after day one. She will be looking to pick up the pace tomorrow.
No bar humps today for Jared Graves. He was all business and sits 3rd overall with three stages left to go.
No bar humps today for Jared Graves. He was all business and sits 3rd overall with three stages left to go.
Shawn Neer dips into the slick on stage one.
Shawn Neer dips into the slick on stage one.
Grubby proving he still is the thunder from down under when it comes to the EWS. Graves sits in fourth.
Grubby proving he still is the thunder from down under when it comes to the EWS. Graves sits in fourth.
Killian Callaghan sits in second at the end of day one for the junior men.
Killian Callaghan sits in second at the end of day one for the junior men.
Former XC racer turned World Cup downhiller Kenta Gallagher is trying his hand at the EWS for the first time.
Former XC racer turned World Cup downhiller, Kenta Gallagher is trying his hand at the EWS for the first time.
Mark Scott toughed it out day despite getting a bit ill from the altitude at the top of stage 2.
Mark Scott toughed it out despite getting a bit ill from the altitude at the top of stage 2.
Rae Morrison started strong but would fade at the end of the day to finish outside the top 10.
Rae Morrison started strong but would fade at the end of the day to finish outside the top 10.
Remy Abalone leaves the aspens behind and pins it across one of the many high speed traverses on stage 2.
Remy Absalon leaves the aspens behind and pins it across one of the many high speed traverses on stage 2.
Francois Bailly-Maitre took eighth place today with a sixth place on stage two. Trans Provence clearly helping him with these longer stages.
Francois Bailly-Maitre took eighth place today, with a sixth place on stage two. Trans-Provence clearly helped him with these longer stages.
4th today for Anita Gehrig and only three seconds behind Casey Brown in 3rd.
4th today for Anita Gehrig and only three seconds behind Casey Brown in 3rd.
 it s a long way up to the top of two I wonder if this is enough bananas
"It's a long way up to the top of two, I wonder if this is enough bananas?"
It takes this many Bananas to keep the rest of the field fueled.
It takes this many bananas to keep the rest of the field fueled.
Bananas everywhere today.
Bananas everywhere today.
Ines Thoma sits 8th
Ines Thoma sits 8th
Cody Kelley feeling the flow on stage three.
Cody Kelley feeling the flow on stage three.
Cecile Ravanel putting the power down on stage three. Ravanel holds a 38 second lead at the end of day one.
Cecile Ravanel putting the power down on stage three. Ravanel holds a 38-second lead at the end of day one.
Martin Maes sits in third after day one. It s good to see Martin on the move.
Martin Maes sits in third after day one. It's good to see Martin on the move.
Adrien Dailly airing it out on stage two.
Adrien Dailly airing it out on stage two.
4rth for Damien Oton after day one and very much within striking distance of the podium with one day of racing still to come.
5th for Damien Oton after day one, and very much within striking distance of the podium with one day of racing still to come.
5th for Damien Oton and ready to battle it out another day.
Damien Oton ready to battle it out another day.
Jerome riders the dirt ribbon between the aspens on stage 2.
Jerome riders the dirt ribbon between the aspens on stage 2.
Theo Galy railing corners in the hero dirt on stage 3.
Theo Galy railing corners in the hero dirt on stage 3.
Adrien Dailly has his work cut out for him if he wants to leave Aspen with his current series lead still intact.
Adrien Dailly has his work cut out for him if he wants to leave Aspen with his current series lead still intact.
A dented rim and slow leak slowed Adrien Dailly down on stage 2 and he finished the day twenty two seconds back in 7th.
A dented rim and slow leak slowed Adrien Dailly down on stage 2, and he finished the day twenty-two seconds back in 7th.
Jared Graves checking to be sure that all is straight.
Jared Graves checking to be sure that all is straight.
Sam Hill proving all the doubters wrong. Winning stages and sitting 2nd overall just 8 seconds behind Richie Rude.
Sam Hill proving all the doubters wrong. Winning stages and sitting 2nd overall just 8 seconds behind Richie Rude.
With his rivals in the championship struggling Sam Hill knows a strong final day will land him in the series lead.
With his rivals in the championship struggling, Sam Hill knows a strong final day will land him in the series lead.
It was a big day out for Richie Rude.
It was a big day out for Richie Rude.
Winton and Brown happy to be done with a long day of riding.
Winton and Brown, happy to be done with a long day of riding.
Aspen 2017 has been all time so far.
Aspen 2017 has been all time so far.
Those clouds meant we would be seeing hero dirt later in the day.
The day ended much as it began. Will it rain again overnight or will we see the dust return on Sunday?
Shred lather rinse repeat. Tomorrow it happens all over again.
Shred, lather, rinse, repeat. Tomorrow it happens all over again.