This year's Enduro World Series (EWS) ended better than it began for Whistler-based mountain biker Andréane Lanthier Nadeau.
After missing the first three races of the year due to a slow-healing wrist injury, the 25-year-old Quebec City native finished her season by landing on the podium for the second week in a row.
She took third place in the eighth and final round of the series, held in Finale Ligure, Italy on Sept. 29 and 30, with her time of 22 minutes, 15.82 seconds (22:15.83). She crossed the finish line just over 32 seconds behind winner Cecile Ravanel.
"The race in Finale was amazing. The venue is a dream, the Italian lifestyle, the beautiful piazza by the Mediterranean Sea, and the endless trails in the mountains," Lanthier Nadeau wrote in a message from Europe following the race.
Heading into the event, she was forced to draw on her only previous experience racing in Finale Ligure in 2015, after missing the series stop in both 2016 and 2017 due to injury.
"That race felt like a beating," she recalled. "It wasn't my style of tracks at the time and I felt overwhelmed by how precise your riding had to be in order to ride the technical trails. Three years later I knew my riding has evolved. I knew I could do it, but I was very nervous to see what my pace would be like compared to the rest of the field."
After finishing the first stage of the race in third despite suffering a crash on the course, Lanthier Nadeau, "knew my pace was there and that all there was left to do was to keep on pushing!"
Since beginning her season with a ninth-place finish in the cross-border race held in Austria and Slovenia as round four of the series, Lanthier Nadeau has been steadily climbing through the standings. She picked up a sixth place result in Ireland and a fourth-place finish at Crankworx Whistler before finally cracking the podium after finishing third in Aínsa-Sobrarbe, Spain on Sept. 23rd—her third podium at an EWS event since 2016.
Since beginning this season, "All I've wanted is to put my injuries behind me and feel free to ride my bike. Every race I had been getting closer to that and in Whistler was the first time I felt like myself on a bike again," she said.
Lanthier Nadeau finished 11th in the series' final rankings. This year's EWS pro women's field ended with a one-two punch for France: Ravanel, who was undefeated this year, came out on top in the overall standings, while Isabeau Courdurier followed in second—the same result she claimed during each of the series' eight races. Britain's Katy Winton took third overall.
Despite claiming five top-10 finishes, Lanthier Nadeau knew it would be difficult to crack the overall top 10 heading into her final event. "Looking at my improvements over the five rounds I competed in I am super happy and I can't wait to have a shot for (a) good overall (result) next year," she explained.
Lanthier Nadeau's Rocky Mountain / Race Face teammates were the top Canadians in the final round's men's division, as well. Whistler's Jesse Melamed placed eighth in Finale Ligure, while Squamish's Remi Gauvin followed close behind in 12th position. The consistent results also earned the trio a win in the eighth round's team standings.
Despite missing two rounds due to injury, Melamed was able to sneak into the top 10 in the overall EWS standings, finishing the season in ninth place. Gauvin followed in 12th. Australia's Sam Hill took the overall win this season, followed by French riders Damien Oton and Florian Nicolai, in second and third, respectively.