Hattie Harnden takes silver in La Thuile with a final stage surge

Hattie Harnden capped a brilliant race with a victory on the Queen Stage

Hattie Harnden scored one of the biggest results of her young elite career Wednesday, taking silver at the third Enduro World Series race of the season in La Thuile. She steadily improved throughout the day, taking 7th, 6th and 5th on the first three stages, respectively, before a massive final run to win the lengthy Queen Stage and vault herself onto the podium.

That last stage was a monster — 4.18 kilometers long and 718 meters of descent. Harnden won it with a time of 10:33.83, 10 seconds faster than second place Melanie Pugin, who won the overall.

“I’m still processing. It feels amazing.” Harnden said after the race. “I started a bit steady but I picked up as the day went on, and just got better and better. I wasn’t expecting anything coming into the last stage, but I did a lot better than I thought.”

Hattie putting on a show for a very damp crowd.

The conditions for the race were sunny through the first three stages, but as Harnden rode the transition to Stage 4, she began getting pelted by sideways rain and hail from an approaching thunderstorm. She didn’t mind the weather: “You slide around a bit more and it’s a little bit more unpredictable. I think it makes it a bit more exciting.”

Thankfully, the worst of the storm stayed away for her run. As Harnden went down the mountain, she could feel she was in the midst of a special performance.

Post-race happy Hattie.

“There was a real fun, fast start to it, and then there was a small little pedally climb in the middle, and then it went back into real steep trails,” Harnden said. “I could see the person in front as I was going up the climb and I knew I’d been riding fast at the top. I was at that point where I was like, ‘Oh, I know I’m going fast. This is good.’ 

“I got to the bottom and I was waiting for the next person to come down knowing I thought I’d gone quite fast. So it was an exciting couple of minutes waiting at the bottom.”

Harnden’s race was especially impressive given she had just raced the U23 race at the XC World Cup in Les Gets, finishing 10th, four days earlier. She has kept up a busy racing schedule since the winter across cyclocross, XC and enduro events (with a bit of road camp mixed in). Harnden is used to a grind, and was well prepared heading into a busy week.

Today's forecast: Champagne showers.

“Honestly I did feel a little bit tired this morning, but then as I woke up, I was really excited to just be on my bike,” Harnden said. “I think resting for the World Cup last week really helped. It stopped me just going out and riding bike park laps all week [laughs] so I think having the two together has actually worked really well.” 

Harnden’s not done in La Thuile. She and her Trek Factory Racing teammates Florian Nicolai (34th on Thursday) and Pedro Burns (117th) will race a modified version of Thursday’s Queen Stage as a prologue on Saturday, then take on four more stages Sunday. All five stages make up EWS race No. 4.

Harnden knows she’s going to be sore after this weekend, but she’s ready to race.

“Rest day [Friday], and then back at it. Fingers crossed the body hangs on in there.”