Hattie Harnden cleaned up in Burke, winning three of six stages for another overall win
Hattie Harnden is really enjoying her time in North America.
A week after visiting the famed slopes of Whistler and winning with a final stage comeback, Harnden went across the continent to Burke, Vermont, and secured her second win in a row. This time, she left no doubt that she was the strongest rider in the field. After taking fourth in the Pro Stage on Saturday, she won the first stage of Sunday (Stage 2 on the weekend) by a whopping 17 seconds to vault to the top of elite women’s overall standings. From there, she never trailed again.
“It was amazing, like just a solid day from start to finish,” Harnden said after the race. “I just rode my best and tried to be smooth. I tried to hit all my lines. I didn’t have any big mistakes.”
Harnden has now won four EWS races in just a little more than a season-and-a-half of racing as an elite. In that span, she has proven she can win on any type of track. Burke particularly suited her, however, with long pedaling sections that rewarded her stellar fitness. In addition to her big result on a relatively flat Stage 2, she also won the Queen Stage — a lengthy Stage 5 that featured several short climbs — by 10 seconds over Morgane Charre.
To round out her hat trick of stage wins, Harnden pipped fellow Brit Ella Connolly by 1.68 seconds on a fast Stage 4. Her overall winning margin of 32.4 seconds is the largest by any women’s rider so far this year, pairing nicely with her winning margin of 4.44 seconds in Whistler, so far the smallest of the year.
In sum, Harnden just keeps finding new ways to win west of the Atlantic.
“I don’t know how I do it, but hopefully it carries over next week in Sugarloaf,” Harnden said. “This is my first time racing enduro in North America, so I had no idea what to expect.”
Unlike in Whistler, Harnden was almost assured an overall win if she simply made it down the last stage cleanly. However, she didn’t know that. Harnden knew she was having a good day, but she deliberately did not receive time updates from her mechanic Andy Lund to help keep her focus on her riding.
The final stage was the same as Saturday’s Pro Stage, so Harnden knew that she had room for improvement. She ended up taking second, 3.5 seconds behind Charre, to wrap up another incredible weekend.
“I was quite nervous before the last stage, but I knew I could do a better job of it than yesterday with the mistake I made,” Harnden said. “I knew I just needed to ride a solid stage. I knew the speed was there. I just rode the best I could and it was enough.”
Harnden and teammate Pedro Burns, who finished 48th in the elite men’s category after starting his Sunday with a crash, now head to Sugarloaf in Maine to complete their North American block. The course has plenty of flow and jumps, giving riders yet another chance to show off their versatility.
Pulling off a third win in a row would be a tough task for Harnden, but there’s no denying that she’s in a groove. She’d be more than happy to make weeks like these a habit.