The Enduro World Series (EWS) announced today a new round of qualifying events that will offer riders a clear pathway on to the world stage of enduro mountain bike racing and it has named the Urge 3 Peaks Enduro in Dunedin, New Zealand, as one of those.
Urge 3 Peaks Enduro event director and Olympian Kashi Leuchs, of Dunedin, said he was surprised when he got the call from EWS managing director Chris Ball a few weeks ago.
"We didn't even know this kind of thing was being planned," he admitted. "But the concept certainly does make sense for the riders and its a real honour for us to be part of it."
The EWS had been aware for some time it needed a more transparent entry system for those riders devoted to enduro, but wanted to ensure it could create a fair and open structure before its introduction. They believed this had now been achieved with the roll out of 18 new Enduro World Series Qualifier events for the upcoming year – two in New Zealand. The Giant Toa Enduro, held in Rotorua as part of the Crankworx festival each March, will be the other New Zealand event to reach the qualifying status for EWS.
"I think it’s a big step forward for the sport as a whole," states EWS managing director Chris Ball.
Leuchs said this was great news for the Urge 3 Peaks Enduro.
"It's a huge team effort to put this race on and after four years of running it this is the perfect thing to make us all excited again. I'll be calling everyone together soon to discuss what fun things we can add and ways we can improve."
He said the event, which was supported by local club Mountain Biking Otago, already fitted into the mold of world enduro events. "We don't see the need to change the formula too much to be honest," Leuchs said. "We have lots of capacity to grow the numbers without sacrificing quality, so it should just mean even more fun."
The Urge 3 Peaks Enduro has become as iconic for the Dunedin trails it uses as it has for the culture of the event and this is something Leuchs said he would preserve now the event had EWS Qualifier status.
"A few years back Tom Bradshaw and I made a really conscious decision that the Urge 3 Peaks needed to remain focused on its core – the grassroots riders. We will make sure this doesn't change."
"Of course we do expect more international riders will take part and some of these riders might have a lot at stake, but that's just going to add to the fun for the rest of us watching them battle it out."
For Leuchs, the announcement is a tip of the cap for his personal endeavour to promote enduro racing in New Zealand. "I am buzzing on it right now," he smiles. "Really though it won't change the most important stuff, which is simply seeing everyone out there having fun on their bikes, hanging out and fizzing after their runs. That's why I do it."
The first test for the qualifying series events will come this week with the Giant Toa Enduro taking place at Crankworx Rotorua. The Urge 3 Peaks Enduro will take place in Dunedin on December 3-4, 2016.