Anneke Beerten is Hungry for an EWS Win

A new team, a new bike, a new chance. After two seasons of misfortune Anneke Beerten is back in full health and with a clear goal. ‘I want to win an EWS.’

It is the third time the Enduro World Series kicks off in dusty Chile, a place Anneke has both good and bad memories of. She did well there in the past. In 2016 the Dutch enduro racer came out swinging in Corral claiming two stage wins and a second place for the entire race. That same trip though, she also caught a virus which put her down for the rest of the season and marked the start of two years filled with illness and injuries. So it is not a déjà vu Anneke is looking for. It is revanche she’s after.

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Anneke Beerten is Hungry for an EWS Win

Photos by Ian Matteson/Alchemy Bicycles

A new team, a new bike, a new chance. After two seasons of misfortune Anneke Beerten is back in full health and with a clear goal. ‘I want to win an EWS.’

It is the third time the Enduro World Series kicks off in dusty Chile, a place Anneke has both good and bad memories of. She did well there in the past. In 2016 the Dutch enduro racer came out swinging in Corral claiming two stage wins and a second place for the entire race. That same trip though, she also caught a virus which put her down for the rest of the season and marked the start of two years filled with illness and injuries. So it is not a déjà vu Anneke is looking for. It is revanche she’s after.

‘2015 was a great year for me’, Anneke says. ‘I won the World Championships four cross, was crowned Queen of Crankworx, won the European Enduro Championships and ended third in the EWS overall. So compared to that 2016 and 2017, when I struggled with a virus and a shoulder injury, were pretty disappointing and I don’t want to end my career like that.’

The successive seasons of health issues definitely got to Anneke at times. ‘You constantly feel the need to prove yourself and show everyone like, “hey, I can still ride a bike you know”. In hindsight I underestimated the virus. I kept pushing too hard and taking way too little rest. At Crankworx in Les Gets I felt so weak that I told my mechanic I was about to faint. I still tried to ride the pump track, but didn’t even qualify. I couldn’t even remember the last time that happened.’

At 35 years of age Anneke is ‘not the youngest anymore’, as she puts it herself. It lead her to think about the goals she’d still like to achieve before hanging up her race shoes. ‘I really want to win an EWS’, she says. ‘Of course I’d love to take the overall title, but that is incredibly difficult due to the variety in races. So for now my goal is to win a race either this year or the next and take it further from there.’

To reach that goal Anneke switched teams during the off-season. Together with stylish American Cody Kelley she’ll be forming the all new Alchemy Factory Racing team, which was launched this January. ‘Things at GT weren’t running smoothly so I decided mid season last year already that I’d be looking for a change for 2018’, Anneke explains.

Around that same time, bike industry veteran Joe Stanish made the move from Enve Composites to Alchemy Bicycles to start a new position as chief operating officer and help the Denver based company grow. He figured a new EWS team would be a great tool to promote the companies existing and upcoming bikes.

Joe had originally planned to initiate the new team in 2019, but the window to get Cody and Anneke was pretty short. ‘It all happened a lot earlier than anticipated, but it seemed as a great opportunity’, he says. ‘We have a new bike coming up and we have a great existing bike that is capable to race the EWS, so we looked at our marketing budget and decided this was a good use of that.’ Thanks to his long career in the industry he was able to pull together the sponsorship needed to go racing in time. ‘But it’s definitely been a busy couple a months’, he laughs.

To Anneke the establishment of an all new team seemed like a great challenge. ‘I’ve known Cody for a while. He’s a very talented rider and with Enve, Maxxis, Shimano and Fox the product list is really strong as well’, she says. What really got her excited though, is the new bike Alchemy is working on.

‘Alchemy is developing a 29’er and I personally always liked the big wheels. I used to ride one at Specialized and it was something I missed at GT, so when Joe revealed their plans I immediately said I’d love to help with the development and ride it.’

The bike will be released at Sea Otter this April and look very similar as the current Arktos, Joe says, although the industrial design will be totally new. It will be slightly longer and slacker than the current 650b version and will have 140 millimeter suspension travel in the rear and the option to run either a 150 or 160 millimeter fork. ‘It will also have an integrated chain guide, which personally I think is an improvement’, Joe adds.

The 29’er is not the only new bike Alchemy is developing. The company has two new bikes ‘on the planning board’ which Anneke and Cody will help design. ‘One of which will shock a lot of people’, Joe says. He won’t give any details, but does confirm the company ‘might be foraying’ into new disciplines and that it is not a downhill bike. ‘It is exciting stuff. We plan on making some noise’, he grins.

Anneke will start the season aboard the current Arktos, but will switch to the 29’er after Sea Otter and ride it for the third round of the EWS in Olargues, France, while Cody will stay on the 650b version. It’s a perfect combination for Alchemy.

Anneke and her mechanic Joe Binatena, better known as Bike Co Joe due to the large amount of Joe’s on the team, have spend the last few months looking for the perfect setup. ‘The new bike has been a big change, pretty much everything is different’, she says. ‘The Arktos is a full carbon bike, while I rode an aluminum bike and wheels for the last few seasons so it feels very different. It’s also the first time I’ll ride on Maxxis tires.’ Anneke is on a large frame instead of a medium, because the sizing of the Arktos is slightly smaller than her previous bikes. ‘I feel very confident on it though. As soon as I got on it I was amazed by how well it rolls.’

If the next two years will be her last two years of racing is uncertain. ‘It’s a difficult question. I still enjoy riding bikes, especially with the new team. So as long as I’m having fun I’d like to keep riding, but at the same time I don’t want to keep on going without results for too long’, she says.

Will she smash it again in Chile this weekend? ‘I’ve definitely put in the hours this off-season, even more than in previous years’, Anneke says. ‘Of course, the competition hasn’t sat still either and it’s hard to estimate where I stand, because I didn’t really compete last two seasons. But I feel good. Ready to prove I can still ride a bike.’