Today was the first day of competition in the Andes Pacifico Race.
The first thing everyone asked in the morning was “how did you sleep”…. It was soon obvious that all the riders were nervous and a good nights sleep had been impossible!. At 7:30 am the first competitors began boarding the Aguila lift to take them upto La Parva Ski Center at 2800 meters, which led to the sector called Piuquenes and then onto Valle Amarillo.
The SS1 began with a fast section and then entered a Singletrack section with no grip (#antigrip) before reaching a rocky area with more than a few little drops! Many riders had crashed on this challenging section of trail. Then the track ended with a section of more than 30 “switchbacks”, boiling brakes and testing skills. This gave the riders a taster of what was coming for the rest of the day . Very loose terrain, dusty and long descents and singletrack mainly traveled by mules.
The SS2 began with a fluid path which was very open, allowing for scarily high speeds. In this Special Stage our friend Chris Ball, told us that he loved the area and had been enjoying the fluidity of the path and amazing views showing the immensity of the Andes.
The SS3 was a classic, known by every enduro or downhill rider in Chile. Today for the second time in history this single track was used for a competition. We are talking about the famous ‘turn 16’ and ‘turn 14’. These two singletrack made a special stage that lasted almost 7 minutes, included the infamous uphill on turn 14 . The circuit as always has lots of stones and ditches, and many had grown larger which made the riders sweat.
At the end of this special stage, riders happily arrived at the food supply area where Santa Cruz and Mountain Works gave mechanical assistance, supplied parts and even accompanied the fruits brought by the organization with sandwiches, nuts and Red Bull . Then came the longest liason and uphill of all the races. Sven Martin mentioned that bikes should have a motor to do that type of climb. 1200 meters of altitude made all the competitors suffer. But all this had a reward which was the special SS4 Nido de Condores – Santuario that would sap the last of the energy out of the riders . Unanimously all riders categorized this SS as the most complex of the day as 1,100 meters of vertical and over 16 minutes left everyone exhausted.
The end of the special stage was in the picnic area of the Nature Sanctuary where the river provided recovery to tired muscles and washed off the dust that had accumulated on the bikes.
The big winner of the day was the World Champion Jerome Clementz who took the lead with a time of 45:29 minutes, with the Chilean National Champion Nico Prudencio arriving in 46:23 minutes. Third place went to François Bailly- Maitre with a time of 47:27 minutes.
For more race results check here: Link
Words: Eduardo de Solminihac | Pictures: Gary Perkin, Sven Martin Dave Trumpore and Claudio Olguin