Hattie Harnden opens Enduro World Cup with a big win in Finale Ligure

Hattie already has the World Cup win that eluded her in 2023

Hattie Harnden had never thrived in Finale Ligure before. But she proved that any struggles in the past were simply circumstantial. She smashed the field during the Round 1 of the Enduro World Cup on Saturday, winning two of four stages for the overall win. After just missing out on a World Cup win in 2023, Harnden quickly put herself back on top.

“I’ve never really thrived in Finale,” Harnden said. “There has always been a bit of friction and it’s never really quite clicked. So it feels good to finally get over that hurdle.”

Harnden said she was a bit nervous entering the race. New season anxiety aside, she has also spent the last four weeks recovering from a foot injury suffering during a muddy downhill race. Though she was confident that she could start the race, how the foot held up during a long day in Finale remained to be seen.

Hattie Harnden smashed her first World Cup race of 2024.

Back on top of the podium after missing a World Cup win in 2023.

But Harnden thrived on the most taxing stage of the race. Stage 3 was the longest at more than seven kilometers, and featured a mean climb three-quarters of the way through. Harnden hammered it, winning the stage by more than 20 seconds on her way to winning the overall by 8.63 seconds over second-place Isabeau Courdurier. 

“I think the stage played to my strengths,” Harnden said. “I know I’ve been training really hard, and I know I have really good fitness at the moment, so I definitely wasn’t worried about that stage. And I knew I could claw a bit of time back.”

Hattie had no problem with the heat and physicality of Finale.

With a good lead, Harnden was able to ride safely and keep her rivals at bay on the fourth and final stage. (The originally scheduled Stage 4 was canceled for the elite riders due to a crash among the Women’s U21 riders, so the day ended by racing Stage 5 after Stage 3.) She had zero issues on her Slash throughout the day. 

“I physically did a really good race and tactically did quite a good race. I think I would say I attacked where I knew it played to my strengths, and tried to make the biggest dent,” Harnden said. “And then in the last stage, it sounds really bad, but I just didn’t do anything stupid. And I just did enough to win. I just didn’t want to muck it up, basically.”

Team Hattie.

Harnden raced just her third World Cup on the new Trek Slash, released last September. With even more time to get to know the bike, she’s riding more comfortably than ever.

“We had everything super dialed,” Harnden said. “After riding the bike in practice, we didn’t make any changes. We were just happy with our starting place and with all the settings and everything. We just kind of went with it. At that point, you just gotta ride fast.”

Harnden won’t have much time to bask in her win. Round 2 of the Enduro World Cup will take place in Bielsko-Biala, Poland, this weekend. The course is brand new to the World Cup circuit, which should lead to wide open racing.

Emily Carrick-Anderson didn't have the race she wanted, but she'll quickly have another shot in Poland.

“I’m super excited that we’re all going to a new venue,” Harnden said. “It’s really interesting when it’s a new venue for everyone. I think it can mix up the results a little bit. And it’s always quite cool to start from scratch and have something new in front of you. I feel like that’s what enduro was always about: Going to new places and exploring.”

Harnden’s new teammate, Emily Carrick-Anderson, didn’t have the Trek Future Racing debut she hoped for. She was forced to pull out of the race after Stage 3 due to the heat. But she and Harnden will have plenty more chances to show out this season, starting next week in a stunning new location.