The Giant Factory Off-Road Team kicked off its 2018 Enduro World Series campaign in Chile, with Josh Carlson and Rae Morrison both scoring top-10 finishes in the arid, high altitude terrain of the Andes mountains.
The first EWS race of the year, held at the La Parva Ski Resort, 26km east of Santiago, challenged riders with its loose, rocky terrain and extreme track conditions. They faced six grueling stages over two days, and attrition played a role with crashes and mechanicals affecting many of the contenders.
“Chile delivered again with a wild weekend of racing,” Carlson said. “It was a tough weekend to hold it all together and limit mistakes. I crashed on Stage 2 and messed up my pinky finger, which made Sunday’s racing even harder to manage.”
Despite the setback, Carlson still raced well on his Reign Advanced throughout the final three stages on Sunday. He taped up his finger and went on to post his best stage finish, eighth, on the final stage to climb into seventh overall for the weekend.
“My Reign Advanced and new DVO suspension was amazing all weekend long,” Carlson said. “This race was as much a test of bikes and gear as it was the body.”
Carlson’s teammate Mckay Vezina had a strong start on Saturday, including a seventh-place finish on Stage 3, but lost some time with a big crash and mechanical troubles on day two. After damaging his rear derailleur, Vezina was forced to finish a stage with no chain and then run 6km and 1500 vertical feet up a rocky, switchback trail in his Giant Line shoes, as fellow riders helped push his bike to the start of the next stage.
“I am super happy with my result considering my mechanical on day two, and some of the other challenges I faced throughout the weekend,” Vezina said. “I know my form is there and I can’t wait for the next round in Colombia this weekend.”
Morrison, representing the women’s Liv brand, also had a strong performance on her Liv Hail Advanced, kicking off her 2018 EWS campaign on a high note with an eighth place overall. Morrison, who finished 10th overall in last year’s series, had two sixth-place stage finishes in Chile.
This week the team heads to Manizales, Colombia, for Round 2 or the EWS.