Giant Factory Off-Road Team rider Marcelo Gutierrez gave the home fans something to cheer for when he won the prologue stage and finished second overall at Round 2 of the Enduro World Series in Manizales, Colombia.
With the EWS visiting Colombia for the first time, the seven-time DH national champion in this Central American country made a special appearance, taking a break from his downhill racing and training to give enduro racing a try. The two-day event started with a unique urban downhill on Day 1, then continued with more traditional enduro racing in wet, muddy jungle terrain on Day 2.
Living up to his “Urban Legend” nickname, Gutierrez—who is always a favorite in the Urban DH events that typically feature narrow alleyways, steep stairways and man-made features and jumps—rode his Reign Advanced team bike to victory in Saturday’s prologue stage in the streets of Manizales. Thousands of fans turned out to cheer on Gutierrez, and the race was televised live in Colombia.
“The energy and support of the people gave me the motivation to give everything,” Gutierrez said. “Having this event in my backyard is a dream. “
Day 2 presented a completely different set of challenges for Gutierrez and his teammates Josh Carlson, Mckay Vezina and Rae Morrison. Heavy rain made for treacherous conditions in the 8-stage race through dense jungle terrain. Vezina was unfortunately sidelined after crashing in practice and requiring 6 stitches in his knee. Morrison, representing the women’s Liv brand, also experience bad luck, dealing with an acute asthma attack and a crash that caused her to abandon.
Carlson, persevering with a cold throughout the weekend, fought through the conditions to finish 27th overall, finishing on a high note with a 4th place finish on Stage 8.
“This week was a tough one,” said Carlson, who finished top-10 a week earlier at Round 1 in Chile. “The weather made the race extremely hard and the trail conditions were diabolical.”
Gutierrez agreed, but he’s a little more accustomed to the wet, muddy conditions. “This might have been the most rain we’ve seen in a weekend,” he said. “That totally changed the game, made pedaling and riding really difficult, both physically and mentally.”
“Second place for the weekend leaves me completely satisfied,” Gutierrez said. “Racing enduro is something completely different from what I usually do, so that’s a valuable podium finish to me. Millions of thanks to all the people who supported me, to the team and all the sponsors that made it possible to have this big party in my hometown.”