This year’s WEMBO – the World 24hr Solo Championship – was back were it started in 2012 at Finale Ligure, Italy. Finale is renowned for its All Mountain and Enduro trails, all of which make for a pretty brutal 24hr course on a lightweight XC bike. Add the super loose and dusty trails, the baking daytime sun of the Italian Riviera, and 270m climbing per 10km lap, and it meant the racers and their pit crews were in for a testing time.
The whole event had an air of Italianesque organised chaos with no-one clear of the exact course or the race structure even after the starting gun. However, bar the timing system not functioning for the majority of the race, it all came together with a brilliant atmosphere. Particular highlights were the pits strewn within the wooded sections of singletrack which made for some close up cheering and heckling, and the all night party on the final toboggan descent.
Out of the 400 competitors from 40 countries were over 30 Brits, the biggest showing from a single country bar the Italians. They did us proud too with several podiums including our own Rachel Sokal fifth in the female elite (and UK-based Iwona Szymd in third). In the men’s elite, current European champion Matt Jones came in a solid ninth after a tricky time through the night. Steve Day retained his single speed crown ahead of Andy Howett in third. Brits gave a very strong showing with Carwyn Davies, Max Suttie, Gillian Pratt, and Peter Nadin all category winners. Along with that, Nigel Smith was second, Mike Hancock third, and Donna Waring fourth in their age group categories.
The overall men’s elite race was taken by Canadian Cory Wallace by a lap from eight-times winner and reigning champion Australian Jason English. The women’s elite race also saw the defending champion pushed into second with Australia’s Liz Smith missing out to the brilliantly named local rider Gaia Ravaioli.
Next year’s race is back at Relentless at Fort William, where the autumn British weather should give a mighty home advantage to our racing contingent.
(Words by Rachel Sokal, images by Olly Townsend).
Below are some podium results, with a few other UK placings highlighted too. Finishing position on the left, number of laps on the right. For full results check out http://www.durt.com.au/events/wembo2017/
1 Cory Wallace (CAN) 38 laps
2 Jason English (AUS) 37
3 Josh Tostado (USA) 36
9 Matt Jones (GBR) 33
1 Gaia Ravaioli (ITA) 32 laps
2 Liz Smith (AUS) 32
3 Iwona Szymnd (POL) 31
5 Rachel Sokal (GBR) 29
11 Naomi Freirich (GBR) 13
Men’s Single Speed:
1 Steve Day (GBR) 32 laps
2 All Area Bikers (BEL) 29
3 Andy Howett (GBR) 27
Edit: Nigel Smith, another Brit who placed second in the M35-39 category, has been in touch with links to WEMBO’s own results. Individual category results here, and overall results here. Amazing effort from all contenders!