After a six week break, the Enduro World Series is back and this time it’s heading to Ireland for the Emerald Enduro.

Photos: Seb Schiek

Ireland first hosted an Enduro World Series last year and it was successful enough to be brought back for a second year. There were initial fears that the modest slopes of Carrick Mountain would be overshadowed the big mountain rounds that pepper the rest of the calendar, but the compact nature of the venue led to an event like no other with the famed Irish hospitality on full display all weekend.

The atmosphere is currently building in Wicklow with the teams piling into the village of Glenealy. The trails are all on strict lockdown until the race event to prevent any cheeky practicing, so, until it kicks off on Friday, here’s our preview:

2015 recap

The men’s race was won by local lad Greg Callaghan who was treated to a rockstar’s reception by the crowd wherever he rode. Local knowledge clearly paid dividends as he grabbed three out of seven stage wins.

Second place went to Justin Leov, who will be unfortunately missing from this round as he is out with glandualar fever, and Richie Rude came third.

The women’s race was won by Tracy Moseley who put nearly 30 seconds into Anne Caroline Chausson (who we know now was unfortunately very ill at the time). Third place went to Cecile Ravanel who currently leads the women’s field. The good news is that Tracy Moseley is down as a registered rider for this round and, if her scintillating form in the British Enduro Series is anything to go by, you can fully expect her to be right on pace to defend her crown.

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EWS_Wicklow_2015_A4A5309
Specialized EWS #2 Wicklow Ireland 2015
Specialized EWS #2 Wicklow Ireland 2015
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EWS_Wicklow_2015_14_2189

The trails

Emerald Enduro EWS Course Map 2016
Emerald Enduro Wicklow course map 2016

The trail map has been released and it looks like the riders will be hitting exactly the course as last year. This is no bad thing as Carrick Mountain provides seven typically Irish trails featuring everything from open rocky sections to rooty woodland singletrack. It’s probably best to leave your 170mm monster truck at home here though, this a venue that will suit something a bit more sprightly - around the 140-150mm travel mark

The trails will all be raced on one day in a 50 km loop. There is a total height loss of 1,750 metres (compared to over 3,000 in Corral) and an approximate GC time of 25-30 minutes. The trails certainly aren’t the longest of the year but they pack in intense technical challenges and sharp climbs to sap the riders throughout the day.

After bad luck with a flat tire in Rotorua, Florian Nicolai is looking for a top spot here in Ireland to keep Jerome on his toes.
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Stage two has to be the highlight. It’s the longest stage of the weekend and fires riders straight into a Danny-MacAskill-style rock section that will probably attract the densest concentration of crowds on the day.

Also keep an eye out for the steeper stages seven and eight, especially carnage corner that ruined so many racers' weekends last time out.

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EWS_Wicklow_2015_14_6816
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EWS_Wicklow_2015_A4A4003
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EWS_Wicklow_2015_14_1817
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EWS_Wicklow_2015_82A6827

Ones to watch

Two names have dominated this season so far – Richie Rude and Cecile Ravanel – so will they be challenged in Ireland?

Men’s

When Callaghan came down to the finish line after the last liaison, mayhem ensued.
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Once again Greg Callaghan will be the man to watch. As the pick of the current breed of Irish enduro racers he will be a crowd favourite and ready to charge from the second his tyres touch ground.

Richie Rude may have won the first two races of the year on steep, Alpine-style tracks but the man with anvil-sized calves will have no trouble hammering down the required power to do well in Wicklow

Beyond him you can expect the usual suspects to be pushing hard for the win - Martin Maes is coming into his own this year, Nico Vouilloz is as consistent as ever and Jerome Clementz always has the capacity to deliver a winning performance.

Of course the beauty of enduro is that there are so many riders capable of dialling in a win and a touch of the Irish luck could see a total wildcard snatch the win.

Women’s

Tracy Moseley – next round in the battle for the overall with Anne Caro.
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The return of Tracy Moseley will no doubt be weighing heavily on the minds of a women’s field that has had a respite from her dominating presence. Her early season results have been strong but is she missing the big race practice that’s needed to perform at the EWS?

It seems that both Casey Brown and Isabeau Courduier are starting to find podium form too and veteran Anneke Beerten is always there-or-there-abouts to give Ravanel a fight for her third win on the bounce,

Get involved

Spectators are welcome throughout the weekend with practice on Friday and Saturday and the race on Sunday. A day ticket will cost €5 but it’s free for Under 18s. A weekend ticket will cost €8.

For more information, click here.