The Giant Factory Off-Road Team wrapped up its 2017 Enduro World Series campaign Sunday, finishing at the traditional final round venue of Finale Ligure, Italy. Led by Josh Carlson and Liv Cycling Rae Morrison, the team posted some strong results in front of large crowds lining the steep, technical trails running from the Apennine mountains down toward the Ligurian Sea.
Round 8 featured two physically demanding race days, each covering more than 50 kilometers and over 1300 meters of climbing. The terrain varied from lush, damp high-mountain trails to sharp rocks and loose dirt at the lower elevations near town.
Carlson started out strong on his Reign Advanced team bike, posting a top-10 finish on Day 1 (8th on Stage 3). “The stages were exceptionally physical,” said the Australian who lives and trains in Vancouver, Canada. “After some solid weeks at home training after Crankworx Whistler, I felt great and was stoked to be riding well and back closer to the front of the field.”
Carlson, who wore the new Giant Line trail shoe throughout the two-day race, finished 15th for the weekend. And despite missing the first two races of the season, he ended up finishing 33rd overall in the 2017 EWS.
“The level is so high right now, so 15th was an awesome finish to one of the toughest seasons I’ve ever had,” Carlson said. “Once again my Reign was perfect on the varied terrain—from wild, rough stages on Saturday to the pedal-fest sprints on Sunday. It’s been a massive year and I can’t thank everyone enough on the Giant Factory Off-Road Team for making it possible.”
Carlson’s teammate McKay Vezina of Canada also put in a strong performance at Finale Ligure, overcoming some crashes to finish 22nd. “To end the season here in Finale is always amazing,” said Vezina, whose best result was 20th on the final stage. “The tracks this year were a little different, but they were awesome to ride and race. I had some up-and-down moments, but overall I’m happy with my result.”
Representing the Liv women’s brand and riding her Hail Advanced team bike, Morrison posted another top-10 finish (9th on the weekend) to wrap up her first full EWS season with the team finishing a strong 10th overall for the year. The New Zealander had to overcome some crashes and injuries this season, but finished on a high note in Italy.
“What a way to end the season,” Morrison said. “Big rocky hills, thousands of spectators, incredible atmosphere and some of the best pizza and gelato on this planet. It’s been a rollercoaster of a season but I’m super happy to be top-10 in this race and in the overall.”