The final round of the 2023 Enduro World Cup took place in one of the most renowned bike parks in the Alps. It marked the end of a long season that began in March and was interrupted by two extended breaks. The playground in Châtel presented varied tracks in the freeride kingdom. While the morning offered natural stages, freshly carved through the forest, the afternoon profile radically shifted to more bike park-like stages on permanent tracks.

This round had more stages than the others. Riders competed in seven timed descents (eight for the e-bike category, which also included two ‘power stages’). The total race time remained the same or even shorter, but this format required good management due to more starts and more intensity in the timed sections. 

Practice was logically spread over two days, starting with the last stages of the race. The riders faced extremely slippery terrain, and building confidence was a key step to start the week. At the same time, the pressure began to build for our French riders, always eager to perform, especially in front of their home crowd.

Alex's Battle to Maintain His Spot in the Overall Classification

While the end of 2022 was a success for Alex Rudeau, securing first place at the EWS in Loudenvielle, his return to competition early this year was challenging. His results in Tasmania did not meet his expectations, with a P12 and P22.

For a competitor, it is often after disappointments that the most significant progress is made. Alex methodically and coolly analysed his experience and identified areas for improvement upon returning to Europe. This effort paid off as he was the most consistent rider in the second and third blocks of racing, landing on the podium every race weekend.

Certainly, due to rigorous technical and physical training, it was mainly a mental feat for him, reaching this level for the first time. He managed the pressure, the expectations of his entourage and fans, and adapted to varying tracks and weather conditions, showing impressive consistency and a broad skill set necessary for a top-level athlete.

With a slim chance of victory but a strong desire to stay on the podium, Alex and the team approached the weekend. Jesse Melamed and Rhys Verner were only 42 and 96 points behind, respectively. For those not familiar with the points system, that's very close! He started the day in second place but could drop to fourth without a stellar performance.

And he delivered an excellent race! With a special stage win and two other podium finishes, he again demonstrated his speed and commitment. He therefore concludes his second season with the COMMENCAL Enduro Project team in third place in the overall ranking. He was the most frequent elite male rider on the podiums this year.

Another Top 5 for Mathieu Ruffray

Mat had a challenging year. Despite a strong start in Pietra Ligure with a top 5, the rest of the season was a complex internal battle. He struggled to fully showcase his potential. The pressure he feels during major events is something he finds hard to manage.

His eagerness to excel and give his all sometimes backfires: he pushes hard to gain seconds but ends up making mistakes that cost him dearly in time.

The race in Loudenvielle 15 days ago was particularly hard for him, and he came into this weekend with added pressure. After deeply reflecting on his racing strategy, he reversed his fortunes and almost had a flawless weekend. He found good rhythm during practice, thoroughly enjoying the technical tracks he excels on. By maintaining the right pace, he built solid confidence.

On race day he started strong, holding onto second place in the overall classification until the fifth stage. He even achieved his very first stage win! Ultimately, he finished fourth in this highly competitive e-bike race. This performance will undoubtedly provide additional motivation for him and the team as they prepare for 2024.

A Mixed Race for the Teammates 

Shining every weekend remains a challenging feat. For Guillaume Larbeyou and Louis Jeandel, Châtel was a mixed bag. However, we're confident they'll draw lessons from this experience for the future. We should highlight Guillaume's determination, finishing the race despite suffering from acute sinusitis!

A Well-Deserved Rest

Now, it's back to Andorra HQ for cleaning, organizing, information sharing, season debriefing, and of course, a rest phase for the whole team. There is a feeling of tremendous satisfaction amongst the COMMENCAL Enduro Project structure, diving deep into the action. We've built a team capable of high performance, designed a bike that's both easy to handle and fast on all terrain, and ignited strong momentum here at COMMENCAL.


Photos : Sven Martin
Riders : Alex Rudeau, Mathieu Ruffray, Louis Jeandel, Guillaume Larbeyou