Hattie Harnden wins first ever elite EWS race!

At 20 years old, Hattie Harnden has established herself as a force

Just like Thursday in La Thuile, Hattie Harnden entered the final stage of Sunday’s Enduro World Series sitting just outside of the medals. And just like Thursday, Harnden proceeded to give a monster performance, this time vaulting all the way from fourth in the standings to first and earning the first elite EWS win of her career.

Harnden won the final stage — the longest of the race — by more than 9.5 seconds over second place Melanie Pugin, who won the overall at the first EWS race in La Thuile on Thursday. With that dominant margin, Harnden also pipped Pugin for the overall win by just 0.98 seconds.

The weather was beautiful in La Thuile, unlike Thursday's stormy ride.

Harnden was fourth in Saturday’s prologue stage, then won Stage 2 — the first stage on Sunday — to move into second place overall. She remained in contention for the race win after taking second on Stage 3, but then she suffered a small disaster on the penultimate stage: A slide out crash before finishing eighth. Harnden entered the final stage fourth overall.

“Winning the first stage was not what I thought was gonna happen after, on Thursday, kind of building up into the stages and getting better as the day went on,” Harnden said after the race. “I thought [the crash] took me out of it, with it being so tight among the women. The last one I just gave it my all and I didn’t expect it to happen. It was a long wait at the bottom.”

A hard earned top step.

Harnden won the final stage of the day just like she did Thursday on a modified version of the same course. The track suited the sensibilities of a rider who also is also very comfortable on an XC or cyclocross track.

“It had a small little climb in it. But I even messed the climb up so I’m glad I went fast everywhere else, I guess,” Harnden laughed. “Yeah, I love that stage, like I had a lot of fun on it on Thursday, and it was the longest one of the day, which I really like. I just gave it some beans and it went well.”

Sunday was the pinnacle (thus far) of Harnden’s steadily upward trajectory at each EWS race this season. In her elite racing debut, Harnden took ninth in Val di Fassa, including a stage win, despite several crashes. A few days later, she stayed upright and took third overall. She improved again in La Thuile, taking silver on Thursday before Sunday’s gold.

The full TFR enduro squad. Florian Nicolai (far left) took 18th in the men's race, while Pedro Burns (far right) took 33rd.

Harnden believed she had a chance to win entering the day after using Saturday’s prologue to gauge her form.

“Racing the pro stage last night like, you kind of can size yourself up against everyone else, and I knew I felt OK. Like the body was still working well, and I was still hanging on,” Harnden said. “I thought I could do well, but on the day you never know. You could have a crash, or anything could happen. So it just really depends where the chips fall.”

The win caps a busy week for Harnden, who took 10th in the U23 race at the XC World Cup in Les Gets last Sunday before her double dose of EWS races. She’ll race the British XC national championships in two weeks before taking a well-deserved break from racing.

Chocolate milk is for champions.

“In total I’ll have six weeks at home. So just getting some good training and plenty of long runs on the bike. Our mountains aren’t as big, but I’ll try,” Harnden said. “I think a nice chunk of time at home before the next one will do the mind and the body some real good. It’s a time I really enjoy. As much as I love being away racing with my second family, I do love going home.”

For now, Harnden’s going to enjoy her crowning moment, though she doesn’t have plans for the celebration just yet.

“I’m just busy packing at the moment,” Harnden laughed. “I’m having pizza and I’ve drank lots of chocolate milk, so that’s all I’ve got to so far.”