In a day where unpredictable mountain weather would challenge race organisers nerves, once again the best in the sport united to provide exhilarating racing and close finishes in Round 6 of the Enduro World Series. Despite the changeable weather, Val d’Isere was the perfect host delivering both challenging riding and astonishing vistas, proving yet more trail diversity in the evolving series.
The day was dominated by challenging mountain weather, but the event was concluded in the sun!
Some riders adopted cut off spikes for the mud of stage 2, but the grip was better than expected.
Again the forecasts were unpredictable, dark and foreboding clouds moving through the alpine peaks provided glimpses of the fresh snow that had fell overnight. To make the most of the time available the organiser sent riders up for the second run of stage 2 that had to be cancelled from day 1. Again riders headed up into the brooding weather, this time many were armed with cut off spikes and tear offs, but the conditions were better than expected and grip was much improved. It was easy to spot those with fierce tyres as the grassy turns at the bottom of the stage were a spike riders dream.
Jerome Clementz utilised his smooth, fast style to take the win with a time of 12:57.513, followed by Justin Leov 12:59.982 and Fabien Barel 13:06.114. Jared Graves came in 7th with a time of 13:24.771
Anne Caroline took the win in the ladies with a time of 14:40.447, Tracy Moseley followed with 14:56.170 and Cecile Ravanel was not far behind with a time of 15:26.227
If mustaches were worth points, this guy would be leading the series, serious steez
With concerns over the weather, again the event was put on hold and riders waited around the feed tent for news of whether stage 3 would get the green light. Some riders were growing impatient but there are always difficult decisions to be made by organisers, who not only have to consider the progress of the event, but also the safety of riders and marshals on the alpine course. Finally a favorable window was found in the weather and the race was back on! It would be in a shortened format, with just one timed run on stage 3 and the loss of the mass start nation’s race. Seeing the general exhaustion on riders faces after the end of Stage 3, there were few complaints about not having to go back up again for a mass start.
With a break in the weather predicted, riders headed back to the peak for Stage 3.
Stage 3 was a true test of the enduro rider, what with all the lift assistance there may have been feelings that the event was just an event for downhillers, however the addition of at least a minute of full on climbing blasted those concerns out of the water. Stage 3 is a stage that would be won and lost on the pedals!
Stage 3 was all about power, you had to work hard to gain places, this is enduro, not downhill!!
Conditions were finally drying out and speeds were high!
As riders exited the lift a short transfer to a small chairlift took them to the start of Stage 3. Dropping from the morning’s snow dusted peak, the break in the weather had cleared the trails and grip was good. Starting out on fast and bermed bike park trails, riders were soon spat out onto narrow, flat corners and loose rocky sections as the stage joined alpine footpaths. Riders hit familiar terrain as they rejoined a short section of Stage 1, but there was no time to take it easy as the trail split again and a long lung bursting climb began over the alpine pasture. This is where winter preparation counted and power on the pedals was everything. The stage then dived under the Espace Killy lift into tight forest switchbacks which would test skills and nerve! A final sprint through town brought riders to the finish line and applause from the gathered fans and curious residents.
Jerome’s smooth style was no match for the powerhouse Graves.
Lewis Kirkwood of the IBIS UK Enduro Team cutting turns in the woods!
The massive power of Jared Graves took him to the win on stage 3, anyone who saw him chase down Jerome in the closing stages would bear testament to his strength, with a time of 17:07.878, just behind was Francoise Bailly-Maitre 17:31.585, and Rene Wildhaber 17:33.972 (despite broken ribs). Jerome Clementz came 7th with a time of 17:46:743.
Anne Caroline took the win with a time of 20:03:244, Tracy Moseley followed with 20:12.929, Cecile Ravanel was not far behind with a time of 20:49.188
Even though Jared led day 2, he could not pull back on Jeromes amazing time advantage from day 1 and had to settle for 2nd overall. Anne Caroline and Tracey Moseley ran a close race but in the end Anne Caro’s strength on day 2 took the win! Tracy incurred a 30 second penalty for forgetting to reattach her back number, a mistake that cost her the podium! Anneka Beerten and Ines Thoma decided not to compete today after getting lost in the fog on day 1.. Martin Maes actually would have taken third overall, but his junior status excluded him from the main podium.
Masters Podium: 1st Yannick Senechal 2nd Primoz Strancar 3rd Francois Boulin
What was evident though, both in the racing and the smiles on the rider’s faces is that Enduro has taken yet another confident step forward. Enduro should always stand for bringing people together, looking at the camaraderie and spirit on the podiums, the crew behind the Enduro World Series should be proud of the way they are steering development of the sport. Long live enduro!
Words and Photos: Trev Worsey