After the Andorran stage, nearly 200 riders gathered in Cervinia to participate in the Highest Marathon DownHill in Europe. With particularly abundant snow from this winter, the transalpine station offered intense racing moments thanks to its glacier on which many participants exceeded 120km/h.
Since a decade, the international resort of Cervinia is the rendezvous for DownHill MTB lovers, with a warm welcome, its bike park and its slopes serviced by a network of first class ski lifts. Moreover sports enthusiasts can link their MTB stay with summer skiing. Franck PAROLIN (GIANT), Karim AMOUR (KONA) and Nicolas Filippi (GIANT) were favorites after their performance at Vallnord in Andorra, and motivated to be on the 1st march of the podium.
However Nicolas LAU (CUBE) winner here and new winner of the EUROP CUP 2011 could logically deny this supremacy. Same thing for the underdog Bryan Regnier (CG Racing Brigade Santa Cruz) who played a main role, not to mention the German David SCHMIED (Fatmodul XFusion) and the English James SHIRLEY (Orange Hope).
During the qualifications allowing each competitor to get his rank in a group level, Bryan Regnier (CG Racing Brigade Santa Cruz), set the fastest time of the first scratch race day: 0:16:14,400.
So we found the top 100 riders qualified for the first round of EUROP CUP whose departure would be given on the glacier of “Plateau Rosa” at 3500m high.
The quality of the mix snow/ice would favor some tricks : speed taking, countersteering, extreme braking. This is Bryan Regnier (CG Racing Brigade Santa Cruz) the most successful, taking the lead at the end of the glacier. The specificity of the track in Cervinia lies in a wide variety of courses. After the snow, we find a very mineral part, a sequence of obstacles made of huge boulders, soft and catchy pasture with large acceleration before a very aerial single track to finish on the main track leading to the heart of the resort.
Behind Bryan Regnier, a chasing group made of Nicolas LAU (CUBE), Franck PAROLIN (GIANT), Karim AMOUR (KONA), and David SCHMIED (Fatmodul XFusion) is following. Karim AMOUR (KONA) as Franck PAROLIN (GIANT) are still recovering from injury, but they held their position could not resist to the attacks from Nicolas LAU (CUBE), who took a good 2nd place.
While the KONA driver managed to keep a nice 3rd place overtaking a Franck PAROLIN (GIANT) who ensured the points, the German David SCHMIED (Fatmodul XFusion) took 5th place before the English James SHIRLEY (Orange Hope).
Despite the timing advanced by one hour for the second round, the sun was so generous that it was unfortunately impossible to start as high as in the morning.
You had to be very sharp to have the best possible exit strategy from the first part without falling. Nicolas LAU (CUBE) were the most skillful, he will dig a crucial difference that his opponents will not be able to recover. His direct competitor Bryan Regnier (CG Racing Brigade Santa Cruz) is in the chasing group, but takes the second position on a inspired Karim Amour.
David Schmied finished the second round of racing with a very promising fourth place, only 3sec behind Karim Amour. While Franck Parolin takes the 7th place, his size certainly was not an advantage in the part where the snow was soft.
The winner is Nicolas Lau at equal points on Bryan Regnier, the result of the second round giving the advantage over exequo.
In the women row, after a great 1st place in the first round for the Swiss rider Alba Wunderlin, she fails in the second round due to a puncture. It is the French Emilie Serre that mounts the first step. The English Rebeca Hyde, Lyndsey Carson and Sarah Anne Keenan are the followers.
The MAXIAVALANCHE is open to amateurs, who also play their race under the same conditions, as the best. Benoit Fellay for the first heat, and Alex Costa, who won the 2nd round overall. To notice the regularity of the young Mathieu Hebeurt confirming its very good result of Andorra with Arnaud Albezziano.
At the end of this magnificent stage in ideal conditions, no serious injuries have been experienced, the mountain rescue service which monitored the event was exceptionnal. The general classification of the EUROP CUP after the first two rounds: Franck Parolin, Karim Amour, David SCHMIED.
The organization of the MAXIAVALANCHE will meet you on the 3rd & 4th August, for the French stage.
Words & Pictures: Megavalanche PR