Luke Meier-Smith has taken first blood in the inaugural UCI Mountain Bike Enduro World Cup in Maydena, Tasmania
Meier-Smith bounced into the all-new UCI Mountain Bike World Series with a win in his first senior race, fighting off strong challenges from a hugely-competitive field that featured the best enduro riders in the world but also stars of downhill dipping their toes into the format.
In a historic turning point for enduro racing, after 10 years of the Enduro World Series, the sport has taken the step up to full World Cup status and become one of six disciplines to be integrated into the brand-new UCI Mountain Bike World Series.
The tough six-stage race that opened proceedings took place among Tasmania’s stunning eucalyptus trees high above the Derwent Valley and saw riders cover some 54km, climb more than 1,200m and descend nearly 3,000m.
Tasmanian local - Nukeproof SRAM Factory Racing’s Dan Booker who won the first stage but a dominant Meier-Smith - who is reigning Australian downhill champ - was second and would go on to win three stages and never be outside the top four.
Booker, though, would also be consistent and never be further back than third on any stage, finishing the day with a second place overall and just five seconds off Meier-Smith’s blistering pace.
Another Australian downhill star, Connor Fearon of the Forbidden Synthesis team, would make it a home-nation podium after a day when he just kept getting faster - finishing with two third places on stages five and six.
Reigning champ Jesse Melamed (Canyon CLLCTV Factory Team) would have a day of mixed fortunes appearing to be on the pace but suffering a burped tyre on stage three and then fading towards the end of the race after hitting a tree - eventually finishing in 19th.
The U21 men saw a win for Tasmanian local Sascha Kim who took three stage wins. Giant Factory Off-Road Team’s Remy Meier-Smith was second after also taking three stage wins and Will Hynes in third made it another all-Australian podium.
The UCI Mountain Bike Enduro World Cup stays in Tasmania for round two, when it returns to the inimitable trails of Derby next weekend, (March 31 - April 1).
Photo Credit: UCI Mountain Bike World Series