The mountain threw everything it had at racers and organizers during the sixth round of the Enduro World Series, held in the French Alps at Val d’Isere this weekend, including snow, an apocalyptic alpine storm, rolling fog, mud and sunshine, in equal measure.
The godfather of enduro mountain bike racing, and host for this round, Tribe Events’ Fred Glo, declared it to be one of the hardest weekends ever in the ten years he has been organizing enduro in the high mountains, offering thanks to the riders for adapting to the schedule and race modifications required to redress the wild weather.
Intense performances were delivered all around, on a course that started with a hike-a-bike to Bellevarde mountain’s 2800m summit, the start gate for the Olympic and World Championship downhill ski course.
After 1 hour and 7 minutes of intense racing in constantly changing conditions, the battle was finally declared for French enduro champion Jerome Clementz (Cannondale Overmountain) (1h07:03:711), with Australia’s Jared Graves (Yeti Fox) just 11 seconds behind (1h07:15:457), after making an epic recovery in the final stage to regain ground lost from a crash in stage 3.
The third fastest time overall was logged by Belgium’s Martin Maes (GT Factory Racing) (1h07:32:617) who proved that he’s not only the dominant force in the Junior race, but can match his pace with the open field.
The Men’s podium was rounded out by France’s Fabien Barel (Canyon Factory) with a combined time of 1h07:35:437.
Clementz, Barel and Remy Absalon (Team Commencal) (who placed 8th overall) combined forces to win the Enduro of Nations for France, with a seventeen minute lead over their Italian counterparts.
The women’s race was a back-and-forth duel between the UK’s Tracy Moseley (Trek Factory Racing) and France’s Anne Caroline Chausson (Ibis) with Chausson finally taking the win by a 17 second margin after Moseley incurred a time penalty.
Third and fourth ranked riders Anneke Beerten (Specialized) and Ines Thoma (Canyon Factory) got lost in the foggy conditions and failed to finish. French racer Cecile Ravanel took third.
The women’s trio of Chausson, Ravanel and Pauline Dieffenthaler (Cannondale Overmountain) won the Enduro of Nations for France, with a combined time that put them 15 minutes ahead of their closest contenders, Team Great Britain.
After two rounds of racing in North America, the sixth race in the Enduro World Series was a world away from the sunny seaside resort of Punta Ala where this season began, and continued to prove that riders shouldn’t be looking to enduro mountain bike racing if they want a cruisy day out.
Diversity, challenge and personal reward are all up for grabs, though, as Enduro World Series Managing Director Chris Ball says: “Enduro is a wild and challenging discipline in often wild and challenging environments. It was a savagely hard race for everyone, but that makes it all the more worthwhile.”
The final race in the series will take place in Finale Ligure, Italy, 19-20 October, where the first Enduro World Champion will be declared.
For a thorough recap of all the action, tune in for Dirt TV’s Official Highlights show on Tuesday.