The long awaited Round 2 of the new Enduro World Series.
Different country, different format.
Dan and Martin acquitted themselves well at Round 1 with 5th and 4th places respectively, can they better those results whilst maintaining consistency over technical 5 stages with a cumulative descent of 10,000 m?
Riders: Dan Atherton, Martin Maes
Mechanics: Matteo Nati
Support : Alan Milway
Bikes: Dan and Martin will be riding the GT Force a bike that they both feel immensely comfortable with and are excited to ride.
The course won’t be revealed until the weekend but we do know that about 300 riders will tackle 5 stages based around the forests and grazing land of Val d’Alos. On Friday all riders will have chance to walk the course and choose lines but the bike park has been closed all week and there’ll be no riding on the course until Saturday – a format that organisers claim levels the playing field and brings riding skill and instinct sharply into focus.
The start of each liaison will be accessed primarily from two of the Le Seignus resort’s chairlifts, with an untimed first lap for each stage offering a kind of live practice. If you include the timed practise runs the riders will total 10,000 metres of cumulative vertical drop and more than an hour of cumulative race time so fitness will still be an important factor.
Cool, mostly sunny with 10 % chance of rain forecast today and 0% for the weekend. If the forecast holds true conditions will be very favourable.
Neither of the GT Factory Racing riders have ridden at Val d’Alos before. Dan is renowned as one of the world’s finest bike handlers so media expectations are high even though he has said that this isn’t his favourite format. Similarly Martin’s success last round has led commentators to label him “The Belgian wunderkind”.
At Punta Ala Dan rode a considered and practically flawless race based on some intense practise runs and spent a lot of time with Martin practising lines and putting in shadowing runs – not an option this weekend. The riders will be up against stars from all disciplines including last round victor Fabien Barel, BMX legend Jared Graves, Nico Vouilloz, Steve Peat, Curtis Keene, Remy Absalon, Nico Lau and Jerome Clémentz.
Clementz and Absalon have both won here before, in fact over the last decade the Val d’Alos men’s race has only been won by five racers: Karim Amour, Willy Balaud, Alex Balaud, Remy and Jerome.
Current situation – team perspectives
Dan: “I’ve never raced Val d’Alos before so it will be interesting to see how the French riders especially approach this course and this format – there’s a lot of heritage attached to both here – Val d’Alos seems to be the home of French Enduro and this format is old-school, some say the real deal, original Enduro. It’s not my favourite format but Martin will fly at it”
Martin: “This will be the first time for me at Val d’Allos, I’m looking forward to racing with Dan and my brother Tom and to working with Matteo again – school has been pretty hard for me this last few weeks so I can’t wait to get on that bike and show what I can really do”.