With the opening round of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship set to roar into life in just a few days’ time, event organiser Paulo Moreira has pulled out all the stops to make the 2021 edition of Extreme XL Lagares both challenging and memorable.
After a tough 2020, which saw the iconic Hard Enduro race postponed and eventually cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, organiser Paulo Moreira and his team have refused to allow the Penafiel mountains to lie silent for another year. In what Paulo describes as a ‘race for the riders’ the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship opener promises to be a true test for all competitors, with numerous new twists and trails added in for good measure.
Against the odds we’re going racing this weekend and it’s promising to be spectacular…
Paolo, what can we expect to see this weekend in Portugal?
Paulo Moreira: “Naturally, we’ve altered the event format to comply with the government restrictions in place. Yes, we won’t race the streets of Porto, but we’ve placed the focus more on the mountains and in the dirt. We’ve Endurocross racing and a spectacular Prologue hill climb that will make a great warm up for Sunday’s Main Race. Our amateur riders will do one event each day during Friday, Saturday and Sunday, while the Pro class will do both the Endurocross and Prologue on Saturday, and of course the main race on Sunday.”
So, this is very much an edition of Extreme XL Lagares for the rider – ensuring they can race at a world class venue during this pandemic?
“Exactly! With the course we’ve built, I know the riders are going to love it, so to me that’s the most important thing. And while the spectators can’t be here in person, with the Red Bull Media House coverage lined up, it’s the next best thing. It’s going to be a memorable, amazing race for sure.”
Unfortunately, we won’t see spectators at this weekend’s race!
“It was a tough decision to do the race without spectators because we’ve always tried to create a truly enjoyable atmosphere with the public at Extreme XL Lagares. So, doing it behind closed doors isn’t in the spirit of the event, but necessary so we can give the riders a race.”
How are things looking for Sunday’s Main Race – it’s a new course for 2021, right?
“Riders are in for a good time on Sunday. Instead of the multi-lap format from 2019, we’ve marked out a 71-kilometre lap. It’s also 50 per cent new terrain compared to previous years, so the riding will be great. The Pro class will have to ride the toughest sections with easier routes added in for the other classes. We hope the biggest benefit, especially for the top classes, will be less traffic and no back markers to overtake. With a better flow of riding it will be more enjoyable for everyone.”
Will it still feature the typical rocky riverbed terrain Extreme XL Lagares is famous for?
“One thing guaranteed is the rocky riverbeds the area is famous for. We’ve got some classic sections in and there will be lots of new sections to watch out for too. Tapping into new areas have also allowed us to add in new climbs and descents. Trust me, it’s 100 per cent Hard Enduro!”
What riders do you think will excel on Sunday?
“I think you will need to be the complete rider to win on Sunday. Yes, technical skills will be an advantage and possibly long legs, depending on how deep the rivers get! But you will need to be tough to go the distance and ride smart to save your bike too.”
The opening round of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship takes place at Extreme XL Lagares on May 7-9.