Epic Extreme XL Lagares Hard Enduro race report and rider quotes from round one of the 2019 World Enduro Super Series.
Mario Roman achieved a long-held ambition in taking victory at Extreme XL Lagares overall victory. After coming close in 2016 and two DNFs since, the Spaniard knew what Lagares main race needed and put on a determined late race charge to top the podium ahead of team-mate Wade Young, with early race leader Manuel Lettenbichler third.
“I feel amazing, it’s so good to get the win.” Said Roman at the Lagares finish line. “In 2016 I finished about a minute behind Alfredo and then two years in a row I had mechanical issues with my bike, but I always believed in myself and knew I could do it this year.”
Extreme Lagares main race in a nutshell:
- Sunday’s Hard Enduro feature race followed two days of action-packed Endurocross and City Prologue racing.
- 300 competitors began the race with over 50 Pro riders completing two laps compared to the amateur’s single lap.
- Fastest seeded rider, Alfredo Gomez led the field away with Taddy Blazusiak leading out the pursuing pack 15 seconds later.
- At the first major riverbed rock step, Blazusiak had reeled Gomez in to lead overall with Manuel Lettenbichler hot on his heels having also caught and overtaken Gomez.
- Setting an insanely fast pace, Lettenbichler moved into the lead mid-lap and opened up a five-minute advantage over Wade Young with Billy Bolt, Jonny Walker and Graham Jarvis all in tow.
- Lettenbichler began lap two six minutes clear but Mario Roman and Young had other ideas and impressively upped their pace, picked off the KTM and Husky riders and reeled in the Lettenbichler, who appeared to have run out of steam at the crucial moment.
- Roman put his Sherco to the front with a relentless pace through the increasingly treacherous conditions to claim victory and the opening win of the WESS season.
Mario Roman’s rise from well-outside the podium to race win during the thick of the two, two-hour laps, on the infamous rocky streams was all about belief in his pace: “On the first lap I was lying fifth or sixth and I couldn’t see the top two guys, but as the race went on, I started to feel stronger and was able to push 100% and pass the others one-by-one. The track was so much more difficult on the second lap and I knew I would be able to make up time on those tricky sections.”
Wade Young finished four minutes behind as runner-up after a difficult mid-race: “It feels great to get second today. At one point I was down in sixth and I was lacking some confidence after struggling in one of the rivers – that spent a lot of my energy. I came back strong though and towards the end people were starting to get tired and I was able to dig a little deeper and keep going.”
Graham Jarvis initially looked to have snatched third from Manuel Lettenbichler on corrected time, but the German was awarded time he lost on lap one due to a track marking error and finished on the podium.
“I am so happy with my result and overall I had a really good race.” Explained Lettenbichler. “I didn’t realise at first the gap to the others was so big. I tried to stick to the same pace on the second lap, but Mario and Wade must have been flying.
“I had to stop to move a bridge on the first lap so that cost me some time, but thankfully they have awarded that back to me and I have come away with third. It would have been nice to get the win, especially after leading for over half of the race.”
Graham Jarvis had to be content in fourth by a very narrow 10 seconds behind Letti. Strong race-pace of the top four riders meant Jarvis, along with the podium guys, stretched a gap on their rivals.
“I’m really happy with how things went today,” explained Graham. “Especially as I haven’t really been on the bike for the past two weeks due to some niggling little injuries.
“I was feeling a bit tense on the first lap but loosened up on the second and was able to up my pace a little. The bike felt great today and I was really able to attack the gnarly stuff – some of it I was able to get up in one go.
“The course was as challenging as ever – there was even a new gully for this year that was about half a mile long. I had fun though and it feels good to get a top result, even if I did just miss out on the podium.”
Graham’s next event will be the ErzbergRodeo as he will sit out round two of WESS, Trefle Lozerien, this coming weekend.
“I’m so happy with my result,” said WESS Champion and 2018 Lagares winner, Billy Bolt after completing the top five on his first race back after major leg injury over winter.
“It’s been a long three days, but I got to the finish. I didn’t really have a plan coming into today’s race, I just wanted to try and stick with the other guys for as long as I could.
“My pace on the first lap was good, I just didn’t quite have the energy to keep up when we got back into the technical stuff on the second lap. I gritted my teeth and kept going, but it was quite a lonely second lap to be honest.
“I’m over the moon with the result – it feels like a win. Six weeks ago, it didn’t look like I would be ready to ride here after my injury, so to be able to finish with such a strong result feels amazing.”
Rounding out the top six was Jonny Walker who will have to wait another year to claim his maiden Lagares victory.
“That was seriously tough out there.” Said Jonny Walker t the finish. “I had a crash really early on and that didn’t help. I’m still struggling with my grip strength and even though my speed is there, I’m not able to push quite as hard as I would like.
“I was able to stay with the front runners on the first lap but then coming around on the second lap I got stuck in one of the rivers and lost some time.
“I had some good battles out there and I have to be happy with sixth, but I know I still have some work to do before I’m back at 100%.”
Three-time Extreme Lagares winner and Saturday’s prologue winner, Alfredo Gomez looked confident heading into the main race but says mistakes cost him: “It was very tricky out there, one of the toughest day’s riding I have had for a long time. It was so slippery, and I had quite a few crashes.
“I set off first and unfortunately lost sometime early on when I made a mistake. I think three riders passed me and then we got into the first river and I struggled to stay with them. It’s a shame because yesterday my pace was so good and to come away with the Prologue win felt great. Today I just couldn’t get comfortable with things. We have a week until the next race so I will try to recover as best as I can and get prepared for France.”
Taddy Blazusiak was happy to get to the finish in the tough conditions, albeit getting close to an hour down on Mario Roman’s finishing time: “Overall, I’m happy with my ride today, it was really tough and very long.” Said Taddy.
“I got a rock in my eye when trying to pass a lapper and that put me off for a bit. It was just one of those tough days, but this is WESS and it’s all about collecting points when things don’t quite go your way.
“I led the race a little early on, which was fine, but I struggled a little when we got to the rivers. It was so slippery and the second time through was even more tricky. I got to the finish in one piece, which is the main thing. Soon we’ll be straight into classic enduro at Le Trefle. It means I’ll be back on the 350, which should suit me as it’s what I have been riding all SuperEnduro season.”
For full Lagares 2019 results listings check out our ‘Results Feed’ post.
2019 World Enduro Super Series Standings (after round 1):
- Mario Roman (Sherco - ESP) 1000 points
- Wade Young (Sherco - RSA) 850 pts
- Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM - GER) 770 pts
- Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna - GBR) 690 pts
- Billy Bolt (Husqvarna - GB) 610 pts
- Jonny Walker (KTM - GB) 570 pts
- Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna - ESP) 530 pts
- Taddy Blazusiak (KTM - POL) 490 pts
- Travis Teasdale (KTM - RSA) 460 pts
- Jonathan Richardson (Husqvarna - GB) 430 pts
The World Enduro Super Series moves swiftly north into France for round two at Le Trefle Lozerien Classic Enduro next weekend, May 17-19.Photo credit: Future7Media Jon PearsonEnduro21 Editor and Bike Testerjon.firstname.lastname@example.org